By Kim Reader
This huge 11st hound is having swimming lessons to help him overcome his crippling fear of water that leaves him scared of his own bowl.
Saint Bernard Logan developed a phobia of water when he was a one-year-old pup and chased another dog’s ball into a lake not realising he would have to swim.
The incident left Logan, now three, so ‘traumatised’ that his owners Miranda Endersen, 38, and Gordon Endersen, 43, have not been able to get their giant dog into a bath since.
Scaredy pooch Logan even jumps if his water bowl moves and runs away from the hose pipe.
After deciding enough was enough, Miranda spoke to Logan’s vet who recommended taking the cowardly canine for swimming lessons.
Now just three lessons in, Miranda and Gordon have noticed a huge improvement in their pet, who has gone from splashing around and trying to escape the pool to swimming all by himself.
Miranda, of Banbridge, Northern Ireland, said: “I never imagined I would be taking my dog for swimming lessons but I am so proud of him.
“Between the first and third sessions you can see such a big difference. He’s gone from being a bit frantic and trying to grip to the edge of the pool to actually swimming on his own.
“At his first lesson it was like he didn’t even know how to doggy paddle. His back legs were moving like ours would when we do breaststroke. It was so weird to see.
“You just assume that all dogs know how to swim but not Logan.
“It’s actually been quite stressful watching. I’ve been like a protective mother because you can see this look of terror in his eyes but he’s getting there.
“He’s such a confident and laidback dog in every other way but sprinkle a bit of water near him and it’s all over. It’s awesome to see him overcoming his fears.”
Logan’s size may make him look fearless but the ‘big softy’ has been petrified of water since he ‘almost drowned’ in Camlough Lake, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in the summer of 2014.
But the Saint Bernard’s water phobia became even more of an issue when he developed a skin condition that requires regular washes.
Sales manager Miranda and her husband tried repeatedly to shampoo their enormous pooch but Logan put up a fight scarpering at the first hint of a bath.
And enough was enough when the couple’s bath time battle almost resulted in Gordon breaking his leg.
Logan’s vet recommended that Miranda and Gordon take their faint-hearted pet to Aqua Dog Hydrotherapy and Recreation Centre in Lisburn to face his fears.
For each 30-minute swimming lesson, Logan wears a life jacket to make him feel more secure and goes for a lap of the pool accompanied by his teachers before taking a break for lots of love and praise.
The course has been such a success so far that in his last session, Logan even managed a lap of the pool all by himself.
Miranda said: “Logan was so traumatised after the drowning incident at Camlough Lake. He jumped in after another dog’s ball and just started freaking out.
“Since then, he has been petrified of water. If his water bowl splashes or you get the hose out, he’s off. He’s having none of it.
“He has a skin condition which means he needs baths but we couldn’t give him one for two years.
“He’s so clever about the whole thing. As soon as he’d see you getting the shampoo or get any hint of bath time he’d do a runner.
“Gordon and I tried so hard but he’s a huge dog. He weighs 70kg so it’s not like you can just lift him up and put him in. It was so bad once Gordon almost broke his leg.
“When our vet suggested swimming lessons we figured we might as well go along and see what happens. It was hilarious seeing him in his little life jacket.
“He’s such a brave dog with everything else and he’s such a big character. It might seem ridiculous taking him for swimming lessons but who cares if it helps.”
As well as helping Logan cope with his phobia, hydrotherapy also has medical advantages as it is good for dogs’ joints.
Joanne Mulholland, who runs the Aqua Dog centre, praised the pooch for making ‘great progress’.
Joanne said: “Through the safe and controlled environment at Aqua Dog Hydrotherapy, we provide an ideal space for any breed of dog to learn to swim.
“In Logan’s case, he was very nervous in his first few sessions with us therefore we provide highly trained hydrotherapists who were able to assist him in the water. He is making great progress and we hope to build upon the confidence he has gained in the last few weeks.
“The medical benefits of hydrotherapy are extensive ranging from strengthening muscles and joints to improving cardiovascular endurance. A full list of medical benefits can be found on our website.
“In Logan’s case, larger breeds can benefit greatly from hydrotherapy with their large size and strain they put on their joints. Hydrotherapy improves this and can be ideal for if they get injured or on approaching old age.”