Wizard of Paws Physical Rehabilitation for Animals
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Wizard of Paws
Physical Rehabilitation for Animals
Full service wellness and rehabilitation programs for your canine companion
Wizard of Paws

155 Westchester Road, Colchester, CT 06415 | directions | 860-267-9191

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Get On The Ball
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Get On The Ball


My name is Sheila and I’m an “agility junkie”. This is my story about how I got “on the ball”!

In my mind, the year 2009 will always be linked to a series of doggie disasters that struck, one after the other. First, tragically and quite unexpectedly, I lost my competition dog just as she was coming into her prime. Then two month later, not altogether unexpectedly, I lost my senior dog. That left my puppy, Kip. Kip is a field bred Golden Retriever with a fine pedigree, selected for the characteristics that would make her a great agility dog. Working with Kip was what kept me going through the summer of 2009. I could see that she had the drive and the intelligence that I had hoped for. Sadly, in November she developed hind limb lameness and x-rays confirmed that she had significant dysplasia of the right hip.

Because Kip was only 6 months old at the time of diagnosis she was considered a candidate for a triple pelvic osteotomy. She met all the criteria and although we would have to travel to Calgary ( 7 hours away) for the surgery I felt that it was a good option. She had one good hip and the surgery would stabilize the other hip so that she would be able to lead an active, if not a competitive life. To be honest I really thought this diagnosis was the third and therefore the last in this string of disasters. How wrong I was!

The next blow came when we went to pick Kip up after her TPO surgery. We learned that in the course of the procedure, there had been damage to the sciatic nerve – a rare and potentially serious complication. Kip had no sensation and no movement in her right hind leg and in her case it was many weeks before she recovered function. The final blow came when we took Kip in for follow up xrays two weeks after the surgery. The films showed that the left hip was now subluxed and would also require surgery.

Taking Kip back to Calgary for that second procedure was very difficult. The decision fell squarely "between a rock and a hard place". The window of opportunity for this surgery is narrow and the best outcomes are achieved when it is done before 10 months of age. Kip still had significant deficits on the right and after the second surgery she would be further disabled. But without the surgery I knew she would face a whole lifetime of disability.

Thankfully, our luck was about to change. While she was in hospital for the second surgery Kip was assessed by a rehab veterinarian. The rehab vet found there was significant neurogenic atrophy on the right and profound weakness of the core muscles. She provided us with an exercise program and as Kip’s strength began to improve she recommended that we get her “on the ball”.

Our ball arrived at the end of April. At first I had to lift Kip up and she would just lie on it while I bounced it and rolled it back and forth. It was not long before she could sit and then stand on the ball. We used functional activities along with the ball and Kip’s strength and confidence grew steadily. By June she was back in structured obedience classes, swimming and going for short hikes. In July she attended an agility camp for puppies where she was the star of the body awareness classes!

Kip is now 21 months old. She is in a regular agility program and we use the ball as an ongoing part of her training. She is fit and strong and runs like the wind. Every time I see her wrestling with our new puppy, a 10 month old border collie rescue, or watch as she chases him across a field it makes me smile.

I am still an "agility junkie". At this point I don’t know whether Kip will ever compete in agility but I’m not going to set any arbitrary limits on what she can do. We will just continue to work on building her strength, her coordination and her skills and see where that takes us. I credit the ball work for much of Kip’s recovery and the ball will always be a key element of her program.

Oh, and the puppy… he’s "on the ball" too!

Many thanks, Debbie, for all your videos which we have relied on and returned to over and over again. Thanks too, for helping us to get our ball – I believe it has made all the difference.

Sheila & Kip



Why I'm so excited about your "Get On the Ball" Program

Dandy Before Get On The BallDandy After Get On The Ball
This was Dandy in September 2006.        This was Dandy one year later.

My goal is to keep those legs strong and straight for the rest of his life.

Destinty & DandyThank you,
Mary Ann, Destiny & Dandy

Bree now sports the doggie equivalent of 6 pack abs!

Bree on the BallI just want to tell you that Bree now sports the doggie equivalent of 6 pack abs! The ballwork has done wonders for her. She can stand, sit up (beg). I do her leg lifts on the ball and anything that requires balance. Exercise along with laser treatments have broken up the scar tissue along her psoas muscle.

Bree WeavingI work Bree once or twice a week on the ball to maintain. She is doing well in agility, very happy to be back working and I am keeping her at her preferred jump height of 16". It's not worth it to take her back to 20/22" as she is very happy where she is...she can go faster that way :).

I still have her on a light trial schedule...only 1 run a day...and she has just gotten back on the AFrame since the injury...it was the last piece of equipment to bring her back to.

I work my younger female on the ball also...may as well get her started on the right foot.

Thanks for all your help,

Ann & Bree

Praise for "Get on the Ball" Seminar

Lance On The BallI attended your Get On the Ball seminar in Toledo, Ohio last year with my Dalmatian, Lance.  I have been working him and Sarge, my 13 year old Dalmatian, on the ball for most of the winter and I wanted to tell you how amazed I am at the difference in both of them.

Lance is developing great muscles in his rear and his core is so strong he looks like a body builder to me. 

Sarge was beginning to lose bladder control and he was having hard time going up and down steps.  When I started him on the ball he was like a wet noodle on it. He couldn’t hold a sit or a down—his legs just slid out from under him. Now he can sit on the ball for over 8 minutes, he does some bouncing side to side, sit-to-downs, and a few other moves. 

Sarge with the ballHe has not had one accident in the house since we started. At the training center he started to pee because I didn't let him out quick enough, but he was able to stop himself which would have never happened a month ago! Sarge is also able to go on our long walks again—before he could barley do one mile. Now, if its not to cold out, he can do four miles with Lance and me.

Thank you so much for such a great concept!  I recommend your ball all the time when people ask how I keep Lance in shape. I tell them to get a BALL and give them your website. 


Praise for "Get on the Ball" Seminar

It was excellent to attend your seminar yesterday in Seekonk. I learned a lot and now have the confidence to work Bug On The Ball by myself. I really enjoyed yesterday's seminars - particularly the Structure and Get On The Ball portions. When I got home last night bug offered to hop up on the ball by himself!

Julie and Bug

Hi Deb!
I love the ball work!  With the exception of three days, I have worked
the dogs on the ball every day since your seminar - they get fed their
dinner on it -- ranging between 5 and 10 minutes. It took me three days just to get Sophie onto the ball but she's fine now.

Goretta, Kelsey, and Sophie

WOW! A big thanks for today's awesome "Get on the Ball" seminar!

I am so glad I was able to attend and I was beyond thrilled with the seminar content, style and presentation. Debbie's knowledge and love of dogs was evident in all she shared with us today. I can't wait to get started with all 3 of my dogs and I am so excited to have something to do with my girls that will be great exercise, conditioning, a confidence builder...and I don't even have to leave the house on these cold winter days :)

Once explained by Debbie, all of these exercises seem so simple, yet so powerful!! As an additional bonus, today's seminar has even inspired me to "get on the ball" and I will be using the ball for myself as well :)

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, Lise & Marcy, for taking the time to co-ordinate this seminar and for sharing the wonderful Debbie Gross Saunders with all of us!

Patti G.

Praise for The Ball

I wanted to post my results so far with my two dogs doing Theraball work with them this winter. I have been religiously doing sessions with them 3 times per week. They are now doing 10 minute sessions. One of my dogs seemed to have a weak back as she would often have trigger points along her lower back after hard exercise. Now, the trigger points are far and few between!! (I also have a regimen I do with her on cool down and massage moves for her back specifically). My other dog had lost A LOT of rear leg muscle mass - even when she was more active last summer - she seemed to be loosing muscle - I wondered if it was because she was now 8 years old. But her muscle in her rear legs has gained dramatically!!

My dogs enjoy the heck out of their ball sessions - of course, lots of treats involved, so why not! ;-)

Thanks Debbie and Cleanrun for publishing the ongoing articles on ball work. Each one has given me another little exercise I hadn't thought of to do with them while on the ball.

Tracy, Maggie & Haley

Morgan and Connor demonstrate TheraBall Exercises
ConnorMorgan On The Ball

Purchase a Pezzi Ball at the Wizard of Paws online store

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