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Dogs Make a Splash in a TriBeCa Pool That’s Just For Them

By Julie Shapiro | June 29, 2010 4:38pm | Updated on June 30, 2010 6:52am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

TRIBECA — Pooches who want to doggy paddle their way through the dog days of summer are in luck — TriBeCa has an indoor swimming pool just for them.

The 8,000-gallon pool at Water4Dogs on Worth Street has everything a dog needs to take a dip, from life vests to water toys. The pool, which opened in 2008, is the only one in the city to offer exercise classes, birthday parties and water therapy for dogs recovering from illnesses and injuries.  

“People can’t imagine dogs enjoying a swimming pool, but they really love it,” said Keiko Brown, 37, a therapist at Water4Dogs who brings her two miniature dachshunds in for swims.

New York can be a difficult place for dogs to live, added Jean Marie Cooper, 38, the licensed veterinary technician who runs Water4Dogs. Small apartments and busy schedules mean many dogs don’t get enough exercise, and concrete sidewalks are rough on dogs’ joints.

Cooper said swimming is a good alternative because the water builds muscle by providing resistance, but at the same time it is gentle on the joints. Cooper keeps the pool a toasty 92 degrees, to relax the dogs’ muscles, and when the canines get tired of paddling around, they can take a break and get a massage.

“Exercise is good for them — it releases endorphins,” Cooper said. “They gain self-confidence, release tension and become more calm, well-adjusted dogs."

Half-hour pool sessions with a trained therapist cost $65, or owners can jump in the pool and work with their dogs themselves for $50 per half hour.

Barbara Feinstein, 55, an Upper West Side resident, spent more than $10,000 on water therapy after River, her spaniel-lab mix, was paralyzed while jumping off rocks. Over several months of intensive work in the pool, River learned to crawl and then to walk again, and Feinstein said the investment was well worth it.

“They’re miracle workers,” Feinstein said. “They did for River what Anne Sullivan did for Helen Keller.”

Water4Dogs isn't just for dogs. It also works with other injured animals, including cats. Six-year-old feline, Nazzanin, took a therapeutic dip last week after a stroke weakened her left side.

Water4Dogs shares space with a doggy day care, a vet and an air-conditioned “agility room” that includes a seesaw and an obstacle course. The recently opened RBC NYC coffee on the ground floor features a live pool cam so dog owners can grab a snack while watching their dogs work out.

Joelle Moore, 32, who lives in Chelsea, takes her 10-year-old Rottweiler, Samson, and 8-year-old pug, Tatiana, to Water4Dogs every week.  

“I want them to live the longest and happiest life possible,” she said. “It’s fun and it’s good for them. It’s an investment in their health.”