This article appears in the August issue of 400 Life magazine.
When Tina Johnson’s dog had knee surgery eight years ago, she scoured for animal hospitals in the area that offer canine rehab to help with her pet’s recovery, but she found that the closest rehab available was in Atlanta.
“I lived up here, and I just didn’t want to do the drive,” Johnson said. “It’s an expensive thing to do anyhow, so to have to add the drive.”
After going into work at Crestview Animal Hospital, Johnson suggested to owner and veterinarian Dr. David Sewell that they needed to have their own rehab center to better help animals in need in Forsyth County.
After looking into what all they would need to do to open one, she ended up back in school to become a vet technician and then at the University of Tennessee to earn her Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner certificate, starting what later became a much larger expansion at Crestview aimed at helping clients make sure their pets are receiving the best products and care.
Johnson finally opened up the rehab center at Crestview in May, and the animal hospital also just opened up a new retail store in the same building on Wednesday, July 15, to start offering a convenient place where clients can ask questions about and purchase products for their pets recommended by their vet.
Faith Coddington, a vet technician at Crestview, said that she is excited to be managing and opening the new store, which is right next to the rehab center. This way, anyone coming from the center can also stop at the store and pick up any food, treats, toys and even care products that will help them continue to care for their pets at home.
Johnson said that, despite a slow opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been seeing new clients coming into the rehab center every week, trying to help their dogs with weight loss, recovery, joint pain, strength-building, balance and other issues.
One of the main pieces of equipment that Johnson uses to help dogs with exercise and canine rehab is an underwater treadmill. She can treat dogs of any size by placing them on the treadmill, which sits inside of a tank, and then slowly filling the tank with warm water up from the bottom. Once the water gets to a certain point, she stops filling it and starts to help the dog to walk along the treadmill.
“When we put them in the underwater treadmill, they have less weight because of the buoyancy of the water, so by allowing them to have that buoyancy, they don’t have to put as much stress on their joints,” Johnson said. “And they’re able to get a good walk in without the added stress and pain of if they were outside carrying all of their weight.”
Johnson said that even dogs that usually do not like being in the water end up going through with the underwater treadmill exercise and even enjoy it. It is a purposefully slow process with each new client to make sure that each dog feels comfortable and relaxed as they are getting used to the new environment, and Johnson always recommends that the owners stay to help cheer on their pup as well.
Although she has mostly treated dogs so far, Johnson emphasized that the rehab center is available for all kinds of pets. Even for animals who would not be relaxed or calm in water, they have a variety of other exercises and equipment for pets who need help with their physical health, including laser therapy, passive range of motion exercises, massages, therapy balls, wobble boards, and more.
“It’s really nice to able to do this,” Johnson said. “It’s a big thing to be able to help the animals out, and I’m seeing a lot of success.”
Johnson said that one of her clients did not even notice how much stronger their dog had gotten from their exercises in the underwater treadmill until taking their dog to the groomer.
“The owner came in and said you know I took her to the groomer, and normally the groomer has to put the dog up on a ramp to get them on the grooming table,” Johnson said. “They have to totally assist that dog up that ramp. She said when I took her in the groomer said, ‘Hey, what have you been doing with your dog? The dog went right up the ramp no problem and got on the table.’”
Coddington is trying to help animals and their owners in similar ways through Crestview’s new retail store, called Vetted Pet. A boutique-style little shop with its own entrance next to the rehab center, Vetted Pet offers specific products that are actually used in the animal hospital and recommended by the hospital’s veterinarians.
“Basically, [Sewell’s] thought process is that there’s best products, and that’s basically what is recommended through here,” Coddington said. “Your pet has been vetted, so it’s had a look over by a doctor and this is what we think is the best thing for your baby.”
Though she said that their prices are not as low as a giant pet retail store like Petco or Petsmart, Coddington said that the store is meant to make shopping and figuring out what is best for their pets easier for clients. Crestview vets and vet assistants have always tried to point out products to clients to go find and try out to help with their pets’ health, but Coddington said that, especially with so many products to choose from, finding the right product can still be difficult at other stores.
“Say you just want to go in for a shampoo, and you have 30 shampoos you have to pick from and you don’t know which one is the right one or the best one or something of that nature because there are … tons of them,” Coddington said. “So basically, [Sewell’s] whole thought is to make it so that there are your three very top options when it comes to a retail basis.
“So basically, you can come in here and those are the products that are going to be just borderline just before prescription-recommended products. So it’s easy to choose from, it’s easy to figure out, and you don’t have to be mish-mashing ingredients and figuring it out and all the mumbo jumbo — it’s all pretty much done for you.”
The Vetted Pet is offering a variety of products, including pet foods, healthy treats, different toys, health supplements, harnesses and leashes, harnesses and slings for dogs going through rehab, and more.
Both Coddington and Johnson are excited about the expansion at Crestview Animal Hospital and all of the new services and products that they have on hand to offer to clients, and now, residents such as Johnson have options for keeping their pets healthy close to home.