Whose Dog Is That At The Studio?

luckyIf you have ever been to our studio in Austin, there is a great chance that you have met one of our greeters, or mascots of CORE. From 2005 through 2010 we had a wonderful white boxer named Lucky Dawg, who I rescued while living in LA. The first thing I did when I opened my studio was to start bringing my sweet boxer to work with me every day. Lucky loved this new adventure as she had tremendous separation anxiety at home alone. She quickly settled into her role of greeting the clients as they arrived for Physical Therapy or Pilates/Gyrotonic personal training. The staff and the clients loved her so much as she brightened everyone’s day!

So someone asked where I got the idea to bring my dog to work and I had a quick response. In 1997, I was working at an Inpatient Rehab Hospital for a clinical rotation back in South Louisiana, a place that patients lived after a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury and things of that nature for 3 hours of rehab a day. Once a month was dog day and there was about 3-4 therapy dogs that came to the hospital for the day. It was the ONLY day of the month that most of the patients gave any effort what so ever. They would reach out to pet the dogs, walk them (in reality I was walking the patient, that thought they were walking the dog) and engage 100%. It was a very powerful sight and I always remembered this and stored in my mind for later in life when I would maybe have my own PT clinic.

Back to Lucky girl! She became the celebrity of CORE and we would even have friends and family of patients stop in to meet her on their own. She was the center of attention as soon as the patient walked into the door, but she actually made each patient feel like the center of attention, breaking barriers and building trust. Its AMAZING the power of a good ole dog!

Lucky was diagnosed with cancer and was given 6 months to live. It was devastating news, but the entire CORE family loved that dog, so much so, that she lived for another 4 years. She died peacefully in her sleep on a Saturday night, the night the staff got together for a Christmas card picture. She was so happy and loving it at the studio that night, playing with the team and their families. And then she was gone. Monday was terrible with tears flowing all day from the staff and clients. Tuesday was no better!

reeceAnd then on Tuesday night, I found Reece at 4 months old. She was the most chilled boxer puppy I had ever met, which is why we picked her from the litter. So the tears of sadness were replaced with tears of joy as the team and clients met Reece on Wednesday. Reece has taken over the job like a boss and can be found at CORE every morning. Now, she chooses to stay home after lunch because my kids get home and the party begins. So if you only come in the afternoons, you must stop in to meet Reece one morning.

That was a crazy couple of days and folks ask me how I got another dog so quickly after Lucky Dawg passed. Well, years earlier I was told she was dying and I mourned her for 6 months, then a year and then finally decided to enjoy every second with her instead of mourn her. That was the best decision and then when she died peacefully without having to make decisions at the vet, I was at peace. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt like crazy, but I was happy for the 4 years with her instead of just 6 months.

And Reece has been nothing but an amazing furry friend since. She brings comfort and joy to our team as well as our clients, many of whom are suffering with pain. A little focus on a dog in the lobby can go a long way for getting a patient to relax prior to PT or training.

That is the story of why I bring my dog to work every day for dog day at CORE.

Co-Owner / Physical Therapist at CORE Therapy and Pilates
Stephen graduated with a Masters in Physical Therapy in 1998 from LSUMC in New Orleans and is a licensed physical therapist in Texas since 2004. Immediately interested in hands-on therapy, he began to study with Brian Mulligan and became certified in the Maitland Australian Approach in 2003. Stephen has since studied the fascial system through John F Barnes Myofascial Release. Stephen completed a comprehensive Pilates training in 2002 and the GYROTONIC Expansion System® in 2009. The combined treatment of manual therapy with mind-body awareness exercises using Pilates and Gyrotonic concepts was the start of his whole-body treatment approach.
Stephen Dunn