If you thought it was difficult administering physical therapy to a human, you should try getting an animal to do the necessary exercises. Woodstock Independent has a story about one woman who is helping animals get back into shape.

Mary Kay Dobbeck, a physical therapist who has been working at the Woodstock Veterinary Clinic for the past year-and-a-half, has been doing just that after decades working with human patients. Surprisingly, Dobbeck said therapy for human and animal patients is quite similar, as long as the patient is willing to work toward the goal.

“Physical therapy is physical therapy,” Dobbeck said. “Whether it’s a human or an animal, the principles remain the same. It’s just the mechanicals that are a little different.”

Woodstock Veterinary Clinic has recognized a need for such services in the area — with no other animal physical therapy services offered within 20 to 30 miles of the clinic — and is expanding its current building, in part, to meet that need.

The clinic has an exercise mat, exercise balls, tread mill and other workout equipment one might find at any gym or physical therapy office. The only difference is each piece of equipment is designed for dogs or cats.

Most animals are cautious at first, but Dobbeck said she has about a 98 percent success rate with her patients. Usually the first one or two sessions involve bonding with an animal, Dobbeck said, adding that once comfortable, the animal is usually excited for its workout.

Photo by Mish Sukharev

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