Testimonials

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Belle
belleI cannot speak highly enough of the service provided to our beloved fourteen year old dalmatian, Belle by Mark.

He is a consummate professional who is strong yet gentle and his presence in the pool is calm and reassuring to the dogs entrusted to his care.

There is no doubt that Belle benefited considerably from her regular swimming sessions with Mark enabling her to remain mobile on her hind legs for much longer.


Rosa a Belgian Shepherd
This canine hydrotherapy is excellent. I cannot praise it enough. Mark is wonderful with my dog, very patient. Rosa is a Belgian Shepherd rescue, not the easiest of dogs to handle as she is very nervous. But, with Mark’s endeavours over the last, possibly two years??? Rosa has gained in confidence and absolutely loves the water now. She is a good swimmer. Her body is really getting the benefit of this treatment. I asked my vet if he would recommend hydrotherapy for Rosa, as a preventative or delaying measure against hip dysplasia or arthritis, both of which are conditions which Shepherds can get. He said it was an unusual request but he had no problem with recommending it for her. I have never looked back. She is a very healthy dog and loves her football exercises which we do with her in our locality. She moves easily, passes, tackles, dribbles and loads of other techniques. This is mostly due to the care and attention which Mark has given her. She trusts Mark and gets really excited each time we approach his premises in our car. KS


Milo a West Highland White Terrier (Lameness)

We would like to thank Mark so much for his help with our loved and sadly missed Westie Milo. He gave our little boy more years because of his ability to treat Milo. Milo loved Mark and his swimming and would bark all the way there. Mark is such an amazing Hydrotherapist and who we see as a great friend. He helped Milo so much when he was at his lowest point. We would highly recommend him because of his passion and love towards our dog.


Honey a Cairn Terrier (Cruciate Ligament Tear)

Honey tore a rear leg cruciate ligament 8 years ago and received surgery for it which ” did the job” but not without a great deal of trauma to all concerned! She approaches 11 years this autumn, and tore the other back cruciate earlier on in the year., for which she was again about to undergo surgery… until we heard about Mark! The surgery was postponed and she underwent a series of therapy sessions with him. It was obvious from the start that he had an incredible way with the dogs and she worshipped him. She is now back to her old self, with newly grown muscle around the tear enabling her to lead her usual very active Cairn life! She is definitely suffering from withdrawal symptoms and we shall be back to “top up” her strength! Can’t recommend this service enough! Thankyou, Mark!


Dasie a Labrador Cross (Cruciate Ligament Tear)

My lab cross Daisy tore her ligament in December 2009. She underwent surgery to repair it and I was concerned that she may not make a good recovery as she was 11 years old at the time. The vet who operated warned that it would be a long healing process and recommended hydrotherapy. She gave me Mark’s details and I arranged an appointment as soon as I could. The snow in January made it difficult to get there but as soon as we could me and Daisy turned up to be greeted by a cheerful, reassuring Mark. He looked after Daisy well and it wasn’t too long before we could drop our sessions to once a fortnight. Daisy had maintenance swims for approx 18 months in total. Daisy was an old lady and often could be stubborn but Mark was always able to adapt and and even coax her to perform in the pool. Thank you Mark


Lexie an Airedale Terrier (Post Leg Surgery to Damaged Hip)

Lexie damaged her hip by slipping on ice when a pup. After surgery to repair the damage Hydrotherapy was advised by our vet. Lexie does not enjoy being out of her depth but Mark managed the sessions perfectly and looked after her to the extent that Lexie was soon swimming unaided. Still not liking it too much but strong leg movement to get to the side reallyhelped with her recovery. I hope we never need to use Marks excellent services again but if we do need to I would have no hesitation in going to Holmarsh. I recommend Mark wholeheartedly.


Hunter a Labrabdor Retriever (Hip Dyspalsia)

We originally took Hunter to see Mark for fun & fitness, he has loved it from the word go! As soon as the tyres hit the gravel car park he is shaking and whining with excitement & I am ashamed to say that is the point whereIi loose control of him!

Hunter recently had x-rays which revealed hip dysplasia but no arthritis as yet & we can only assume the hydrotherapy has helped prevent his condition being a lot worse, Hunter loves Mark and he is brilliant with him, now we know about the hips we will be returning for regular sessions of hydrotherapy

Thanks Mark, you do a fantastic job


Dylan a Dalmatian (Peripheral Neuropathy)

Our 11 y.o. Dalmatian Dylan was referred to Mark after receiving a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, an inflammatory condition causing weakness and lack of co-ordination in his back legs. In addition, Dylan had been suffering from an underactive thyroid, which had also contributed to his muscle weakness.

Mark has a wonderfully gentle way with dogs, and won Dylan’s trust right from the start. Dylan loved the water. Starting with very short sessions of a minute or two at a time, with rests in between, Mark gradually built up the amount of time Dylan was swimming, gently helping him to extend his weak back legs and to get the muscles working. Swimming was the only form of exercise in which these muscles can be fully extended, and we saw a big improvement within only a few weeks. Neuropathy can be a difficult condition to treat, but the swimming was hugely beneficial and it was not long before Dylan was considerably stronger in his back legs, and had better control over them.

Mark is 100% dedicated to helping the dogs referred to him, and I would recommend Holmarsh to anyone, whether to treat an injury or illness, or just for your dog to have fun and healthy exercise in the water.

Thank you Mark for all you have done for Dylan.


Samson a Rottweiler (TTO Surgery to Right Leg)

Samson has just finished his course of 10 sessions after having TTO surgery on his ruptured cruciate ligament. He’s a bit of an old pro at this given that he’d had surgery on the other leg 5 years ago. He did go for hydrotherapy (not with Mark) after his first op but never really enjoyed the swimming at all.

I was apprehensive about how he’d get on this time but Mark was so patient with him and got in the pool with him; this was a huge change from our previous experience. After Samson’s first session he absolutely loved it! In fact he loved it so much that his teeth would chatter with excitement as we were approaching every Tuesday night! He loved (too much!!!) chasing after the tennis ball in the pool and soon got the idea that if he held on to it, he wouldn’t have to work so hard to chase it again!! (Mark did have that one covered in the end, hanging on to the ball until his last swim of the session!)

Samson soon started using his leg properly and was pushing out using his full extended leg by halfway through his course. His fitness is great now and his walking, trotting (and I’ve just let him run in the last week) is wonderful. You wouldn’t tell that there’d been anything wrong with him.

Mark works incredibly hard and has the ability to make your dog feel like he’s the only one he sees. Samson adored being towel dried after his session and the compulsory biscuit when he’d finished. He will miss his swimming sessions now and I fully expect him to be waiting at the front door next Tuesday night with his arm bands and swimming goggles ready to go!

We’d highly recommend Mark for his effective, friendly and patient approach.


Molly & Bella (Cruciate TTO x 2 and Hip Displasia)

My 2 beloved 7 year old Labs (litter sisters) joined our home 10 months ago via Lab Rescue; having done everything together I did not expect the absolute purgatory of each of them snapping a cruicate ligament and undergoing the major TTO surgery (implants and bone surgery) within 4 weeks of one another, xrays revealed damage to another cruciate, Hip Displasia for both and other bits of arthritis! Highly recommended by our Osteo specialist Vet, we were referred to Mark and Molly (water baby) was swimming under Mark’s gentle care within 4 weeks of her op! Mark is meticulous with his animal care from the moment he sees vet’s notes to meeting his patients, making them have a pre swim “wee” in his special outdoor exercise lane (good sniffs – allow 5 mins extra for this – dogs will always wee) always checking their health, heart, weight and general well being at the start of every hour long session and constantly providing encouragement and reassurance throughout. Molly responded so well to Mark’s corrective methods that within 3 weeks she was walking better than we had seen her ever and by week 4 was on “jets” in the pool, her 3rd ball (sorry) and her muscle wastage had much improved! Her big sister Bella is no water baby unless she can feel the sand underfoot, she is 3′ taller than Molly, thus a gangly girl who was very unenthusiastic/panicky at her first session despite having sung loudly as Molly had all the attention in the previous hour. It was a difficult session for Bella and demonstrated what session 1 is about – establishing a bond between Mark and the patient, introduction to water and getting to trust Mark in a different environment and one for Bella where she was totally out of her depth – not even Marmite biscuits helped much that day, Sessions 2/3 was much happier and progress was evident and by session 4 it was “jets”, you would have thought she was at Champney’s from the happy look on her face – then Mark made her exercise her hips and knees to good effect, but he is so careful to push the dog but knows exactly when each should stop too, regardless of if they are having fun! At sessions 6 and 8, we have girls who sing far too loudly for the last 2 miles in the car, Mark is “family” and Bella thinks she might like to be a Water Baby, after all, she throughly enjoys her swims and is walking better than ever, ditto for Molly’s overall mobility – notwithstanding you have to bribe her to get out of the pool!
Mark, we are sorry that your pool and facility is covered in a net-full of black hair after the “Twins” have shed undercoat, had their warm shower and clean individual fluffy towel dry, but when we arrive it never looks as if you have had a patient either it is sooo clean and tidy, even if we saw them leave as we arrived. After 4.5 months of putting our lives on hold and setting up our dogs for their future mobility, we still have a way to go but without doubt Mark Challenger has taken over from where the Vet did his marvellous work to give the girls their best chance of making the best of their different mobility skills, getting fit and hopefully in a few months being able to play properly together again (we have hidden the ball chucker
– not to be used ever again for them) and next time there is snow they will be able to play in it. My girls are so happy, they love walks again not just a “plod” and are smiling again, so therefore so are we, Mark, Thank You.


Archie (Post Surgery /Lameness)

Thanks to Mark and the hydrotherapy sessions we now have our happy bouncy boy back.

Archie was not recovering from his surgery as expected, and was very lame. Exercise was forbidden so he had quite a miserable 6 months. Before opting for further ops/investigations we were advised to try hydrotherapy and (touch wood) have not looked back!

We are now coming to the end of Archie’s course and the change in him both in the pool and out is remarkable. Archie is very nervous of anything new, but Mark is very patient and the sessions are always great fun for the dog – Archie just loves his swims now. Mark is also helping us with some obedience issues we have with Archie – which has all aided his recovery – so we can’t thank him enough.


Max the Golden Retriever (Cruciate problems)

Having seen Mark when Max had his first TPLO op he is now about to go back to try to prevent having to have an op on the other knee.

Mark’s set up is fantastic & his patience & professionalism are first class. Max will love getting better by visiting Mark.

We recomend Mark most highly.

Chance a little brown terrier (naughtiness)

Mark is even better, if that is possible,at training than at treatment. He has helped me turn my little terrier round when I thought that I might have to return her to the rescue centre which would have been very sad since I am at least her sixth owner.

With the help of Mark and a spray collar I now have her listening to me and following me even through distractions and this is after only 2 sessions.

I now have a very good little Agility dog in the making and one who is much happier now that she is being good.


May a Whippet Lurcher (Shoulder Injury / Soft Tissue – Wasted Muscle)

May is not the easiest dog in the world to handle but with Mark’s calm and caring approach she took to the water like the proverbial duck. Each time she managed to work for longer and each week her shoulder improved. She is now fully recovered and ready to go back to her agility work.
I cannot praise Mark too highly.
PS A friend and I took 3 lurchers, one spaniel, 2 terriers and Rex down to Studland yesterday and May swam in the sea – chasing seagulls. She went in further than the spaniel. All your fault!


Tally the Labrador (Lameness / Cruciate Damage)

We first went to Mark to build Tally’s muscle in a rear leg following months of lameness,(key hole investigation showed cruciate damage) in the hope that this would be enough so that major surgery would not be needed .
Tally enjoyed his swims from day one and was fairly chilled , and quite lazy but Mark was able to encourage “work” with being in the water with him and the water jets.
Mark monitored Tally’s condition well and when improvement was slower than expected he advised us to return to the vets.His cruciate ligament had worsened inspite of the therapy.Mark was great in reassuring me when I was worried about consenting to the surgery. He was proved right the surgery has been successful and Tally got the opportunity to swim again with Mark, this time there were no false starts and he completed his therapy and continues to make good progress. We all miss our trips to Mark.
Thank you


Henry the Rottweiler (Spinal Cord Operation)

I cannot thank Mark enough for everything he has done for Henry at Holmarsh. It is a lovely set up, impeccably clean & Mark’s calming attitude emanates to even the most nervous dog. I came to Mark with Henry, a huge 2 yr old male Rottie, just the biggest softie in the world, who had undergone a five & a half hour spinal cord operation.
After the operation he went steadily down hill & I thought I was going to lose him as he could barely stand up. Mark has had nothing but patience & understanding with Henry since day one. As he gets in the pool with every dog, he gives them the encouragement & reassurance that they need. I put Henry’s huge progress down to Mark’s expertise & experience. I now have a dog who has a quality of life again & who can run around playing with his pals. Henry adores Mark & still happily attends regular hydrotherapy to continue his rehabilitation & keep up his muscle tone. I would highly recommend Mark at Holmarsh to anyone.
Thanks Mark.


Brook the Boxer (Operation for torn knee tendon)

We were advised to take Brook for hydrotherapy which would exercise her knee and build up the leg muscle without her weight on it . At the beginning of her treatment Brook was very nervous, but Marks calm reassurance soon won her over.
He gets into the pool and is by her side throughout the treatment, giving rests between each swim, also monitoring her pulse making sure she was not at all stressed. By the end of her ten sessions she loved Mark and he even got kisses
from her. He had done a brilliant job and got the leg muscle built up the same as the other one .
A BIG THANK YOU MARK
No hesitation in highly recommending you and your treatment to anyone


Plum the Jack Russell (Broken metacarpals)

In early January my playful but foolish Lurcher collided with my Jack Russell. She came off worse suffering fractured metacarpals in one of her hind paws, and consequently spent 2 months confined to the house with her leg bandaged in a splint. Although gradually the bones healed, her leg was very wasted and weak.
However, soon into her 10 session stint with Mark she made enormous headway. Mark took great care at her initial consultation to gain her trust, become friends and acclimatize her to a new experience. He was very calm and patient, and gave her lots of confidence so that she enjoyed her swimming immensely.
Her leg muscles bloomed and now she’s running in the fields again. There is no doubt that Mark’s hydrotherapy enhanced her recovery tenfold. Highly recommended


Harvey the Shorthaired Pointer (Mild spinal neurological damage leading to arthritis and weakness in left hind leg.)

Harvey, although not an enthusiastic water dog, has benefited greatly from Mark’s caring and and encouraging support. The pool is lovely, I would happily have gone in myself! The exercise is always tailored to what the dog can manage, with rest periods and a great deal of affection between Mark and Harvey. Our much loved dog has developed both muscle and confidence. This treatment works and we highly recommend it.


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