Monday, 24 September 2018

Bob's story of his first canine massage session

Sometimes a new dog comes along and the therapy session follows the textbook. 

In fact, I think Bob wrote the textbook. Bob is a young Collie with occasional rear leg issues. He is part of Sarah’s group of dog friends .  She describes him as quite non-collie in that he is chilled and laid back with only the occasional mad zoomie. At his Mum’s work, people come up to sit with Bob and just zen-out for a while. 

His Mum wanted a therapy session to check him out. During the initial palpating part of the session, Bob stood quite still and processed the whole thing. “What’s this? This is unusual. I’ll just sit here and see how this goes” 

But it worked. His stiff back was giving off loads of heat already. Once we got further into the session it went (in Bob’s voice).... 

  • “Ok…that was lovely but I’ll just go for a walk round the sofa” 
  • “And hello I’m back”
  • “Ok…I’ll go for a walk again” 
  • “And bring back my toy to hold” 
  • “Ok…I’ll go and sit by Mum and rest against the sofa” 
  • “Oh this is nice, I’ll just close my eyes” 
  • “Ok, that was an ouchy bit, I’ll open my eyes” “No I won’t…I’ll close them again” 
  • “Hmm…I’m sliding down onto the floor” 
  • “Ok, I’ll just stay here and sleep” 
  • “You’ve done that side Dr Les…here…I’ll roll over for you” 
  • “All done? Ok, I’ll pose for the pictures with my trusty blue ball”
  • “I feel like a stretch….oooooo… l-o-n-g stretch” 
  • “And I’ll do another one – ‘coz I can now” 
  • “Are you leaving? Not if I stay sitting on your massage bed and look up at you adoringly” 
  • "Ok…I’ll just curl up on the sofa…bye” 
We know our job is done for the time being, as Bob’s Mum will now be able to use this knowledge and physical therapy to support him throughout every stage of his life. But she also knows there are professionals she can call on if Bob starts to display and more wobbles. 

You don’t need to wait until your dog has mobility issues or arthritis, you can help them manage their health at an early age and maintain that through to silver faced years.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Support your dog throughout every stage of their life...

...don't just wait until they are senior or suffer from arthritis. You can help manage and maintain their mobility at an early age. 

We love working with our senior boys and girls but equally enjoy working with the newbies. Frank is only 10 months old but had already had 4 homes. His current carers adopted him 5 months ago. Not surprisingly he was initially not happy with other dogs as he had missed out on much puppy socialization. 

He is now a lot better and goes to Debbie Peters of Schooling 4 Dogs to help catch-up with his training. Recently she noticed his back seemed a bit stiff and sent a video to our colleague Cathie Forbes who, in turn, referred him to us as we are more local. 

By the way, 10/10 to Debbie for taking the video. It helped us see what she meant. Videos are great. They help you explain your concerns to your therapist or vet and they give you comparators for monitoring progress or change. My phone is full of videos of our Sarah walking which I can show to her specialist vet to explain what I see every day - we only see him twice a year and this way he can monitor her progress.

Frank is a Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross and as cute as a button. Chris was able to visit quite quickly after we received the vet agreement form (another benefit of having two therapists in the team). 

There didn’t seem to be any specifically out-of-balance issue with Frank on initial palpation although he did have a trigger point found in his shoulder. Despite being energetic and bouncy, Chris was able to perform a full massage routine on him which released a lot of fur and tension and created a lot of yawns. One of the things both Chris and his owners noticed was that, when walking on the massage mat, he held his back relaxed. On the floor, however, he hunched slightly. He also learnt that he could use the cushion to jump on the sofa and then our massage mat to get back down again rather than the wooden floor. Runners, mobility islands and mats will be re-instated. 

Chris demonstrated some back-stretching exercises and our special quick-but-efficient warm-up/cool-down Locomotion. Although no specific issues were found, Chris recommended that if the stiffness continues or they are worried, the vet should be the next port of call. 

By maintaining his balance, as Frank matures this should help him avoid having issues. This is what Cathie and I will be discussing in our winter workshops on ““Supporting your dog to reach their full potential through every stage of their life”. Give me a call if you’d like to come along.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Benefits of maintenance therapy for senior dogs

Seeing the results of our maintenance physical therapy is heart-warming. Seeing it with the senior boys and girls is even more. 

When Chris was asked to take over the treatment of glamorous silver faced Pudding in July, she had a sore back, stiffness due to her osteoarthritis, she struggled on first rising and was generally unsteady and wobbly. 

He has been visiting her every two weeks since then. 

Continued teamwork from Chris, Pudding’s Mum and Dad doing their homework and Sarah from Hounds on the Downs making sure Pudding gets the opportunity to use her new improved mobility skills during her walks, has made such a difference. A multi-faceted treatment plan involving all the carers has so many benefits. 

This video on our AchyPaw YouTube channel here says everything of why we do what we do. And it makes us smile.

Friday, 24 August 2018

What do the dogs do after we leave?

Rather than asking the carers to bring their dogs to us, we typically do home visits. There are a number of reasons for this including the dog feeling more relaxed and comfortable in their own home and for us to have a look at their environment to see, and suggest, if any simple adaptations could make their mobile life easier. 

But what happens when we leave? 

Do the dogs feel uber flexy and go round frantically hopping on and off furniture? 

Do they rush around the garden weeing and getting rid of all those waste products we helped shift during the lymphatic drainage part of the therapy? 

Do they wait at the front door for us to come back again and continue working with them? Or do they just flop down and go to sleep? 

I think the majority seem to do the latter. We frequently get snoozey, dozey, dopey and eyes closed photos sent to us afterwards. We don’t take that as an insult in a “they’ve gone now, we can go to sleep” way, but more in a “I can barely keep my eyes open after that massage” way. 

Proof needed? Here are Flint & Alfie after their second session with us. We had similar pictures after their first visit so it must be real. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Multi-faceted therapy routines in dogs

Vet Eili Dettering used to treat Feebee for her arthritis with acupuncture and laser. When our Sarah had a mobility flare up a couple of months ago, I asked her to visit for laser therapy. We started with weekly sessions and are now working our way to maintenance monthly sessions. Her treatments helped turn our Sarah around and now she is back to levels of the start of the year. 

Eili has two dogs of her own who she wanted us to look at in a Double Therapist Friday session at AchyPaw HQ. When she arrived with Louie & Benny, our Sarah looked most put out that she was here for them and not for her. She sulked – throughout. 

Louie is a 6 year old Whippet who was rescued at 9 months. He is rather anxious and recently, when starting to get up, the hind end took a while to catch up with the front. He was diagnosed with mild hip dysplasia of the right hip. He is now no more than 5% lame and, as his Mum said “only a vet would see it”. 

He has been to a physiotherapist who confirmed the neck and front girdle was tight which is likely compensatory for his rear end issues. He goes to hydrotherapy at Roundstone Canine Hydrotherapy in Angmering but he would only use his front end and floated with the rear. That wasn’t quite the point of the exercise! Luckily, they have a water treadmill which meant he had to use the hind legs. 

His brother Benny is also a rescue and is a 3 year old Lurcher. He’s quite an athlete with no particular issues, except that he likes to be ‘part of the group’ so his Mum brought him along so he didn’t feel left out. A good maintenance massage wouldn’t do him any harm anyway. Louie chose Chris while Benny was outside exploring the garden (which later meant our Sam had to go out and pee on all the spots that Benny had pee-d on originally. Sarah followed the two boys later and left her mark on top – that’s our girl.) 

Louie was very tight from his mid back forward – muscles and fascia. It didn’t take long for Chris to work his Back Magic and ease out the tension allowing him to massage Louie all over sorting out his tight muscles. 

Meanwhile Benny felt he had to hold onto Louie (see picture) while I was massaging him. 

Despite interruptions from our Sarah who glued her face to the treatment room window demanding that her Auntie Eili work on her and not the boys, we managed a full session including exercises and demonstration of things Eili could do quickly and regularly with them. 

With maintenance work and the other therapies the boys are having, this multi-faceted approach should help both enjoy their runs and walks without niggles and discomfort

Monday, 13 August 2018

Sunday Seniors day at St Leonards

Last New Years Eve, I was invited over to St. Leonards to help 13 year old Corkie and his Dad deal with Corkie’s newly diagnosed arthritis. Between us, we went through a special massage and exercise routine to help his mobility. Corkie already had his own Corkie Stair Lift in place. 

The other week, his Dad wrote that he has been spreading the good word of AchyPaw training to a couple of the local dog walkers who also have senior dogs and wondered whether I would be up to training them in one of their houses. Of course I would. 

Then the word passed round the Park dog walkers and we had to arrange a larger hall. Sunday, we had 12 dogs and their owners attending – the session had grown as real social media (i.e. talking to each other) worked the magic. The workshop became a spur-of-the-moment Senior Dog and Arthritis Awareness Session as the average age was 11 (9 dogs aged from 12 to 15). There were also a couple of youngsters who had their own mobility issues and one puppy who just wanted to learn how to be a Supple Senior. 

The pictures from the day can be found here 

Here’s a challenge then...if you and your chums belong to a local dog walking group, get in touch and we can look to arrange your own Park Walkers canine massage session. Let’s get everyone up to the level of the St Leonard’s Seniors (dogs not owners). 

Friday, 3 August 2018

Extra benefits of canine massage



All canine physical therapists have their list of massage benefits. Benefits such as improving mobility and gait, stimulation of the healing process, assisting pain relief and discomfort from stiffness, helping restore muscle tone and so much more. These are the physical benefits. Then there all the emotional and psychological ones. Such as relaxation and bonding,

It’s always good to add to that list. Palliative care is one such addition. This isn’t just for the dog, helping them remain comfortable and calm and as eased as possible, but also for the carer. When our dogs are in distress we all want to do something to help. By giving the carer a gentle but effective massage routine they can do with their dog, they know that they are helping and not just watching. And the dogs love it. 

Then there are the chance benefits such as Floc and her PooGate. She was constipated…very constipated. Her carer asked if massage could help. Couldn’t hurt I said. Lots of gentle massage over the stomach. Next two days….lots of texts from her Mum detailing the vast quantity of her resultant poos. 

And the psychological benefits such as Lord Nelson. When he was rescued he was very anxious and almost withdrawn. Physically he was tight – all over. He’d been confined in a cage too small for him before rescue and his body had simply fit to accommodate. He needed stretching. He joined his rescue brother in his new family. But his brother had his own problems being mildly autistic. He had random behaviours which came out of nowhere but also seemed to find it hard to read other dogs. He preferred to ignore and avoid them. 

Springer Spaniel Lord Nelson quickly learned to defer to his brother – a tactic that lead to a happy, content house. Recently his Dad wrote a couple of posts to me. The first was “Lord Nelson actually sprang over long grass several times on the Downs the other day. He used to just push through any undergrowth. That’s the first time I’ve seen. Amazing how regular therapy has given him a new life, including a much more cheerful character”. So that’s a physical and emotional benefit. 

The latest post from him was “Now this photo taken on our evening walk on Devil’s Dyke may not look very special to most, but it actually shows Nelson running ahead of Darcy back to me, something he would never do before. He used to totally defer to Darcy in everything. He’s just so much happier since the regular AchyPaw treatment and now a showing new personality, more cheeky, more assertive and so much more happy go lucky. Thank you for the AchyPaw treatment” 

“Being cheeky” and “being assertive” and “happy go lucky” are now added to my list of benefits from physical therapy.