Winston splashes, he whines, he barks, he drinks the water. Then the three-month-old Australian Shepard cross keeps trudging along on the underwater treadmill.
Winston is one of many furry and winged patients at the Veterinary Mobility Center in Regina, a growing clinic that offers rehabilitation and physiotherapy for animals.
Regina dog rescue group CC RezQs picked up Winston, his mom and the rest of his litter on July 26.
"We at first thought he was paralyzed from the waist down because he couldn't walk and he couldn't move," said Stephanie Senger, one of three directors for CC RezQs.
"He kind of squirmed, but there wasn't a lot of mobility so we took him directly to the vet that day and found out that he's not paralyzed, there's just some mobility issues with his back legs."
Winston has become social media famous, thanks to progress videos on Instagram and Facebook.
When I first saw him, there was nothing ... he had no ab control at all. He couldn't use his trunk to stand himself up. We would have to hold him up. - Dr. Tara Hudye, Veterinary Mobility Center owner
The clinic is owned by Dr. Tara Hudye. She works with animals as small as a week-old kitten and as large as a 200-pound dog. Also one duck.
Hudye said people bring animals in for a variety of reasons. Some are getting less mobile in old age. Others have the pet equivalent of a sports injury, Then there are those like Winston,
"We do a lot of work with some of the rescues," she said.
Clinic grows at the same time the puppy progresses
Veterinary Mobility Center started out of the basement of Lakewood Animal Hospital in Northwest Regina. It moved into a new space on McAra Street in July to keep up with a growing patient-base. Hudye met Winston around that time.
"He's doing great," she said while gently helping him attempt to stand on his own. "When I first saw him, there was nothing, the was no tone ... he had no ab control at all. He couldn't use his trunk to stand himself up. We would have to hold him up," Hudye said. "So the fact this is all we have to help him with is huge."
Justine Heatherington,a certified rehab assistant veterinary nurse and a registered veterinary technician, works with Winston in the underwater treadmill machine.
"We've gotten to the point now that he has more muscle tone in his back legs. Before when he came in, he didn't really have any," she said.
Minimizing the expense of healing animals
Physiotherapy, when it's intensive, can be very expensive. Hudye said rehab and physio for humans and animals is very comparable But humans often have some level of insurance to help cover the cost.
The centre has a fund to help with the financial burden of helping rescues.
"Winston's physio bill should be catastrophic, but the relationship we have with Dr. Hudye and the clinic — we're really lucky," said Senger.
The rest of Winston's rehab is covered by The Archie Fund, names after a now-dead dog whose owners donated to Dr. Hudye. The only instruction that came with the money was to use it for dogs that needed it. One of the clinic's walls has a photo collage of all the animals the fund has helped.
"We like to give back and let the owners of Archie always see how a little help has grown," Hudye said.
The Veterinary Mobility Center will celebrate its grand opening Sunday, Sept 23 from 12 to 3 p.m. CST. All money raised will support the Archie Fund.
Social media superstar in turn helps other animals
Anyone hoping to adopt Winston will have to wait awhile. CCRezQs won`t put him up until its certain he won't need daily physiotherapy. Senger said she hopes that's sometime by the end of this year or early 2019.
Senger said Winston's social media fame has helped get the word about dog rescues.
"Because he's so little and his story is so sad, because every puppy should be able to run around and play and party like puppies do. Because he can't, i think he really tugs at the heartstrings," Senger said.
"Winston helps us to show that there's no intake too terrible for us to turn away or choose to not do what they need to get better."