Sky, a spastic and ecstatic Belgian Malinois, has lined herself up at the end of the pool dock at Dogmode’s aquatic center. It’s an apt name for the pup, especially after you see her owner toss her favorite toy into the air as she explodes down the dock and rockets into the air. There’s literally a moment where the Bernoulli effect begins to take place and Sky almost seems to be standing in mid-air. But instead gravity grabs hold and she falls with a terrific splash into the pool—26 feet from the dock― and emerges triumphant with her toy.
The pool is also a spot for dogs who are more interested in just splashing around―like Misty, a golden doodle, who walks out of the pool after some leisurely paddling. She approaches Dogmode operations director, Emily Maclin, and shakes off her damp fur all over her, as if it was a greeting. “I’m used to it,” Ms. Maclin says with a grin.
Dogmode is one of a number of unique pet services in Utah. Besides working on their doggy paddle, pets can also try out acupuncture or CBD treats for joint pain and anxiety. Ms. Maclin says the recently renovated indoor aquatic center has become a major attraction―as it is the only one in Utah with a diving dock. At the facility pets can come in for open swims, or dock diving lessons, all of which are streamed from cameras so their owners can be a part of the fun.
“Most are here for boarding and daycare but when we take them swimming we’ll shoot [the owners] a text, so they can watch while they’re on vacation,” Ms. Maclin says. The dock diving has become a big sensation and the facility in July hosted a dock diving competition as part of the North America Diving Dogs Association, that brought contestants from across the country.
Theresa Foster teaches the diving and also helps with orientations for dogs learning to use the pool for the first time. “They go nuts—it’s like Disneyland for them,” Ms. Foster says.
For the more mature doggos who may be past their diving and splashing years, there are also a number of unique health options available Utah pet owners might not be aware of like, acupuncture.
That’s right acupuncture.
Multiple care facilities on the Wasatch Front have actually begun offering this service with specialists preferring it over chemical treatments. According to Animal Care in West Bountiful, the treatment is very relaxing for arthritis because it helps constricted muscles to relax. The doctors there say some animals have been known to fall asleep during the treatment.
Dave Merrell, founder of Healthy Hemp Pets, also decided to look for more natural treatments for ailing dogs, when he worried about long term effects of medicines for his dog’s hip dysplasia. When he couldn’t find a product he liked, he decided to make his own—a special hemp infused hip and joint biscuit. He began to see improvement in his own dog and now distributes 18 different products in over 500 retailers.
They make topical CBD balms for horses, CBD oils infused with salmon oil, and the biscuits among other products. Mr. Merrell notes the products haven’t been clinically tested but clients are happy with the results and he’s tested them out himself. He gives some to his dog when they’re anxious about fireworks, and his ex-wife’s dog used the coconut-hemp oil to wean completely off the Phenobarbitals medications the dog was on for seizures.
But the success of the product doesn’t mean the company has been without it’s challenges.
Since they deal in CBD products, federal laws treat the company like a marijuana dispensary, making financial institutions wary of handling money that could potentially be seized by the government. “We’ve been kicked off our credit card processing seven times,” Mr. Merrell says. “But We finally got a permanent solution last week.”
The other challenge was the stigma of selling cannabis products, especially while being based in Utah. “At first people would say ‘you want to get my dog high?’” Mr. Merrell says. But now that they’ve established themselves more, people realize its about creature comforts, not pot for pets.
“Utahns have been very accepting of it,” he says.