Pukekohe’s Ann Barrington-Pace swims with dogs for a living.
Setting up her business, Hydro-Pet, was no easy feat. Her husband Keith spent nearly 1000 hours digging a hole in the garage floor by hand, to accommodate the purpose-built pool.
The company opened at the end of March and now Ann is living her dream.
Her canine hydrotherapy rehabilitation centre focuses on the holistic treatment of a dog’s ailments, by swimming them in the heated pool.
“It’s beneficial because it’s non weight bearing, and it’s enjoyable for the dog and it stimulates the mind as well. After a session the dog is noticeably in less pain and sleeps better.
“There are some conditions that you will never be able to eliminate, but you can give the dog a better quality of life,” she said
She added swimming was also great for working dogs, dogs with energy to burn, and as a learning experience for puppies.
Ann was a police officer in the United Kingdom, but she became “disheartened” with the job, and a friend, who owned a hydrotherapy centre, said she should start one too.
“I never thought it was something I would do, but once I started the training, I realised I had quite a passion for it.
“In my days off I would travel across the country on a five-hour drive and start my hydrotherapy training.”
Once she was fully qualified, she and her family moved to New Zealand and purchased a home, and had her sights set on renovating the kitchen.
“We couldn’t start the pool straight away because we didn’t have the finances. I sort of let the dream go.”
However, she was offered a discount on a pool, and she mentioned it to Keith.
“He said what do you want, a kitchen or a hydro? And it had to be the hydro.”
At this stage there are no regulatory standards for owning a canine hydrotherapy business, which Ann wants to change. She also hopes to grow her business into the best hydrotherapy centre she can.
“In five years’ time I want to be the best in Australasia. I hope to have a few other clinics and to possibly start looking at teaching hydro, and definitely want to have it regulated by then.”