Could this work be about a hotel with a thousand attractions, where people could leave their dogs and cats comfortable while they enjoyed a well-deserved day of rest? Yes, it could be, but it wouldn’t be the same.
At Quinta Monte dos Vendavais, in Cascais, veterinarian Patricia Duarte leads the way, along with physical therapy assistant Alda Malveiro, welcoming dogs referenced by veterinarians or by the simple option of the owners, who these days are more aware of their animals’ well-being.
Cats are nowhere to be seen. Not because the centre couldn’t receive them, but because it is not frequent. This means dogs run the show, dogs that suffered accidents and carry with them a number of ailments, dogs whose lack of physical exercise maximized the obesity problems, as well as those that are simply old. These are the main reasons that lead people to seek this farm, established in 1984 by Orlando Almeida, and that provides this service in the field of physiotherapy and physical Animal Rehabilitation since 2004.
In the room used for the centre’s services we find the appropriate conditions for the clinical specificity of each animal. On one side is the part connected to hydrotherapy, consisting of a pool and underwater treadmill equipped with heated water. The equipment is indifferent to some, who exercise with the confident air of one who does it every day and that it is piece of cake, but scary for others, something you can tell by the uneasiness in the their eyes and movements and even a loud bark.
Regardless of the state of mind, nothing else matters other than a quick and full recovery. If the end of each exercise brings a biscuit, then, it was worth it. In one of these moments, between words and gentle gestures that seek to convey reassurance to animals to the proper development of exercise, Patricia, who has 16 years of experience – three of them on the farm – tells us that the “work in the water is excellent because it does not lead to stress on the joints, allowing for an exercise without pain.” The thesis is proven in time. Slow but steady, the pit bull Onyx shows how.
On the other side are spaces for exercise, massage and electro-stimulation. On one wall are the photographs of “house dogs” or the dogs that regularly go to the centre, serving as an incentive to the dogs, and why not also to the owners, reminding them of the work practiced there and that the investment effectively improved the quality of life of that animal.
At the end of yet another session, the routine always starts with an invigorating bath. More relaxed, it is time to dry the dog’s fur. The warm wind of the dryer machine leaves them ready to start over tomorrow. In this process, the empathy between dog and employee provides for more than once an unexpected lick in gratitude. After stroking their heads and comforting their minds, now is the time for goodbyes and to return home. One of the phrases that Patricia keeps in mind was said to her at the end of a successful treatment, a heartfelt “thanks for everything that you did for us”. “The ‘us’ may be lame, but it’s very rewarding,” confided the veterinarian.
Now it’s time to sweep away the clumps of fur, wash the floor, put the wet towels in the laundry basket, hang the life jackets out to dry, clean the glass of the rectangular unit which is the water treadmill, and cover the pool. Get everything ready. Until the next lick.