Friday, 22 March 2019

New indicator of canine physical therapy benefit - zoopharmacognosy choices

Roxy is a 10 and a half year old Labrador who was rescued a couple of years ago. Her Mum wanted to make sure her life continued to be full of enrichment and comfort. Mum Mel is a graduate of the Healing Animals Organisation and came along to both our Relax HAO modules – Levels 1 and 2. Roxy came to Level 2 and during the course transformed from a reactive vocal girl to “It’s can walk over and around me now…I’m so chilled, happy and relaxed” girl. 

She has started to limp occasionally on her left hip and sometimes checks herself before moving in a “I can do this….I just need to think about it first” way. The vet said that she is displaying general wear & tear with possible arthritis and stiffness on the back left leg. 

Despite being used to massage from Mum, my session was probably longer and more targetted than she has had in a while. She decided she needed breaks in between – which is fine. It allowed time to get her fur out of my beard. S
he seemed overall tight and stiff. Nothing specific but, as the vet said, general wear and tear. Regular targetted intentional massage and exercise should help her enormously. She also needed a lot of myofascial release over her body to free the restricted muscle movement. This will also help her to stand straighter and comfortable. 

By the end of the 90 minute session, she could barely keep her eyes open. Sitting was way too much effort and lying down preferable. One outcome that I’ve never had before – choice of oils. Along with other therapies, Mel practices zoopharmacognosy - self-medication by selecting and ingesting of offered oils. Roxy has been selecting oils for joint stiffness and pain recently. At the end of the therapy session, Mel offered her the same oils, but Roxy was having none of that. Instead she looked at me with a “Hey Dr Les…I’ll have more of what you’re offering please”. Clearly, she didn’t need the extra help of the oils. That will be a useful indicator for her manual therapy progress.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Sorry not sorry

We first visited Charley the handsome Labrador a few weeks ago after he’d had a fall. The plan was to treat him and then pass on some therapeutic skills to his Mum so she can help him recover and maintain his mobility. 

Chris visited Charley the other week to see how things were progressing and he was certainly better but still his usual vocal self. 

This time when Chris visited, he could see Charley through the window but he wasn’t barking. His look was “‘Oh ..... it’s Uncle Chris. I’ll just ignore him”. Now that is one chilled relaxed comfy dog. That’s usually a result for us but unfortunately Charley is the door alarm. As his Mum said “I can’t believe Charley didn’t bark at all! We don’t have a doorbell because we have a Charley” 

As far as his massage goes, his Mum wrote “Charley loves it and jumps on my bed every evening ready!”. One problem we had initially was getting to both sides – Charley used to prefer the same side every time. A trick I learned early on, to turn a dog over (you certainly do NOT want to flip them over) is to simply ask the dog. That tends to work. And it does with Charley…. “Oh he is one chilled boy now! And he DOES roll over to have the other side done. You were right.... I just had to ask him!” 

A well-known indicator of the benefit of massage is that the dog becomes more relaxed. A little less well-known indicator is that you then have to go and buy a door bell. 

Sorry not sorry. While I’m sorry about the latter, I’m not sorry at all that Charley is relaxed. Keep on Chilling Charley. Mum can buy a door bell down the local hardware store.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

One size does not fit all

Every dog we visit is different and unique. And we plan all treatment sessions in the same way. Each in different and tailored to that dog at that time. The plan might be different still on subsequent visits. There is no template, no prescription, no model. We adapt our therapy to match the needs of the dog. 

Gentleman Jack was seen by me at the end of last year. At that time, he was an up and down dog – 5 minutes with me, then would walk away, before coming back for another 5 minutes or so. Since then, his Mum has been working hard with him, getting him far more used to touch and physical therapy. But it is still on his terms – as and when. That’s perfectly fine. As and when is better than nothing at all. And Jack is learning to give himself to Mum when he is most in need. 

The recent visit was as though a lightbulb had gone off – still the occasional up and down but far more hands-on time especially when he was lying on the sofa. Then he just closed his eyes and snoozed. His therapy session was quite different from the first. 

He is 14 in a few days – hopefully with Mum and me helping him, Jack will keep offering me a different treatment plan and stay comfortable and moving for a long while yet.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Accessible & Affordable therapy for all dogs and their Mums and Dads

We aim to make canine physical therapy accessible and affordable to every dog and their Mum or Dad. When we read Charley’s story on the Hanover Dog page where his Mum was saying how he slipped in the mud and went down on his side I offered to help and try to see Charley as soon as we could. This entailed Chris making a couple of visits to their vets to deliver and then pick up the signed vet agreement form. But all was completed and Charley was booked in with us shortly afterwards. 

Charley is a 10 year old Chocolate Labrador with arthritis in most of his joints but particularly in his hips. After his fall, Charley cried out in pain and then couldn’t put any weight on his front paws. He had to be carried home by car and hobbled after that clearly in discomfort. 

Charley also likes to make it known that all conversation has to be about him. If not, he vocalises. That made the consultation and treatment session much fun. Every time I would ask him Mum something or show her a massage move that would help,  Charley wanted to join in the chat. 

But he needed help and he knew it. Charley is smart really. It took a while but gradually the vocalising slowed, then stopped and Charley ‘got it’. This was good. This is helping. This is oh so relieving. 

As if by magic, after an hour, he got up on the sofa allowing his Mum to sit next to him while he placed his head in her lap. We went through all the things that would help and could be added to a daily therapy routine. Meanwhile not a sound from Charley – just lots of “I love you Mum” eyes. 

He already has mats around the house but the food and water bowl needed raising. His Mum didn’t have anything of the right height so ended up holding his bowl up for him. Now that is a Star Mum. 

We went through some stretching techniques and exercises – Charley needed space opening up in his back and neck connection, increasing his movement & ease. This should help create a more fluid rotational movement in his spine making it more comfortable for him to stand. Charley LOVES our special Back Space technique and now demands it from his Mum, stretching forward like a giraffe. Sometimes this one move can help address so many other issues. 

Charley’s Mum wrote us a lovely review “Les was absolutely fantastic with Charley. He showed such love and patience. He has given us both hope that we can help his arthritis….I finally feel like I am doing something to help Charley through this.” 

I warned that Charley might become a Massage Diva – this typically takes a few days. Not our Charley. 2 hours later his Mum wrote “It is amazing! He is on my bed and I’m doing it now. If I stop, he lifts up his paw to touch me to carry on! …..He is so calm now. And he keeps rolling from side to side when he wants a change!” and then the following morning Charley himself wrote “Hi Uncle Les. It’s not even 10 o clock and I have had a warm up, a walk and a cool down. I did my tricks- you left your treats here (I don’t mind)I have had a long massage- my eyes actually rolled back my mum said! I am now going to sleep. Thank you for teaching my mum this- I love it!! ” 

His Mum said that her “worry face has been replaced by a big grin xx” and that through touch and knowing that she can help him rather than just watching him look uncomfortable “it’s like we have found each other all over again” 

This will be the start of Charley’s new life. An empowered Mum full of positivity and armed with the tools to help him. Can’t wish for a better outcome than that. 

Thanks Charley x

Monday, 28 January 2019

The best Before & After

Last week 14 year old Harry had a bit of a turn with a seizure or possible stroke. It left him all scrunched up. 

When his Mum Sarah from Hounds on the Downs sent me the Before picture everything about his posture suggested he needed some gentle stretching to ease his back and regain his confidence. I sent her some of our leg, back and neck stretches to try. 

The After picture is after they have done some of these gentle exercises – nothing intrusive just asking him to lean forward with a treat inducer. In this way, he is stretching himself, all Sarah had to do was to hold the treat in front of his nose making sure he his alignment was longways which will, in turn, make his weight equally balanced right and left, his back is straight, and his eyes are looking forward to ensure proper cervical alignment. 

Harry’s favourite vet nurse, Jay from Coastway, has also been involved with his recuperation, showing Sarah where she needs to concentrate on Harry. 

There is still a way to go but Sarah said he is looking less wobbly and moving much more comfortably. 

Cooperation and Teamwork (Harry, Mum, vet nurse Jay and us)
+ Education and Knowledge (Not just knowing but doing)
+ Perseverance (Not giving up)
+ Awareness (Knowing what signs to look for before issues become chronic) 

 = Great Big Result 

#notjustmassage #spreadtheword

Monday, 21 January 2019

Intention, intention, intention - Canine Massage Rule No.1

Among the ‘New for 2019’ dogs was Vintage Girl Rokit, a 13 year Lab who was referred to us by Guy of Coastway Vets with generalised osteoarthritis and stiff back. She also has Cushings and Vestibular Syndrome as well as a cyst in her neck. But she still manages her walks in the countryside every day. 

Why Rokit? Because she was very speedy when she was a puppy and her younger siblings couldn’t spell Rocket – hence Rokit. 

 I was told she can be a bit wary of new people who are touching her. But she rather seemed to take to me – putting her head straight down and shifting her body so I could get to all areas. I think she even knew what I was saying. “If you can’t get to the side she’s laying on, don’t worry – do that side another day” I said. To which she rolled over giving me access to the ‘other side’. Dogs are brilliant. 

Her Mum is a human massage therapist so had all the skills but just needed to think of Rokit, not as her best friend when working with her, but as a client. That way all her massage intuition and experience will flow naturally. Intention, intention, intention. So important. 

You can’t play at massage. There is not a prescription that fits every dog. It doesn’t follow the same pattern. You need empathy. You need the dog to know you’re there to help and not play. 

Using her existing massage skills and looking at her in a new way, Rokit’s Mum will be able to carry on all the good work. We ended up with some simple and fun stretching exercises before letting Rokit snooze off all that excitement. Vintage Girls need their beauty naps

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Creaks, ouchy bits and wobbles

11 year old Miniature Poodle Tilly's Mum described her issue as ‘creaking’ when she stretches and wondered if she would benefit from maintenance massage sessions. 

We love terms like ‘creaking’ and ‘ouchy bits’ as they not only perfectly describe what is going on, but describe how it must feel. I often get up from the floor after an hour working with a dog and feel creaky. My knees often get ouchy. Terms like that can bring home the discomfort our dogs might be undergoing. 

Tilly is quite an anxious dog with people she doesn’t know (she has a short list of OK people) but she sat in my lap shaking slightly. She wasn’t trying to get away at all, but keeping her eye on me just in case. Over the next few minutes the shakes started to subside until 10 minutes in we were like life long besties. No shakes, just sleepy eyes and relaxed yawns. 

When I went to leave, she was most put out, clambering up my leg to try and keep me behind for more. I think I’m now on her list of ‘nice people’.