Monday, 31 October 2016

Pictures of a tailored and customised AchyPaw massage class.

If you've ever wondered how a dog transforms during an AchyPaw massage training session - look at these. 

George the Chihuahua's Mum contacted me recently to ask if I could teach her a relaxation massage routine to help him through the firework season and generally help calm him down when he is anxious. 

He is a 9 year old boy who does not respond to 'Little' George...he is a Great Dane in all but size. Helen asked if we could offer some Reiki calming initially before the session so Chris kindly sat in at the start. Helen has been on several of Elizabeth Whiter's courses at the Healing Animal Organisation so knew that George would be receptive. Not that George needed too much help with his relaxation. Within a few minutes, he was already droopy eyed and ready for the rest of his therapy. 
George at the start.  Chilled but not relaxed
George beginning to chill out during move No. 4

George during move No. 5 - eyes closing

George during the next moves - eyes even more closed

George and Mum thoroughly relaxed

George happily chilled.

I had devised an 11 move toolkit from which Helen could select the ones most appropriate and most acceptable to George. This gives them a truely adaptable and individual treatment plan. George was not keen on ear massage this morning, so we put that move back in the toolkit while he instantly responded to the next big long flowing effleurage technique. 

As the session progressed he found it harder and harder to keep his eyes open. The pictures show his progression into snooze land. His Mum was not far behind in chilled-outness. Which is a double result. 

We offer a variety of massage routines and workshops which are tailored to the needs of you and your dog. It is not a case of "one size fits all"...just like George. Please contact us if you'd like to learn any of our individual and customised massage routines.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Canine Calm & Comfort

Last night we held the first of our monthly Canine Calm & Comfort sessions @ Cup of Joe CafĂ© Kemp Town from AchyPaw and Touch of Reiki Saltdean. 

The aim is to introduce owners and their dogs to a smorgasbord of holistic therapeutic techniques for their dogs. Some will be demonstrated, others will be guided practice. All will be fun. 

We focussed on some simple but effective calming massage moves yesterday evening with Halloween and November 5th fireworks just around the corner – as ably demonstrated by Mr Sam and his Asda Thunder Shirt in the previous post. I introduced the new Zebra massage technique that I recently discovered and adapted to be appropriate for relaxation. The dogs that have experienced that particular technique in my daily work have l-o-v-e-d it. And young rescue dog Kosti was no exception. He came in boisterous and excitable but ended up chilled and relaxed. 

 Louise demonstrated canine self-selection of macerated oils which our Sarah adores to show people how good she is at it. Again, Kosti really enjoyed trying that out. We’ve just received some feedback “It was lovely to meet you! Such sweet gentle energy you have. Many thanks to you and Les for a most fun and informative evening. Kosti is the most chilled out dog ever right now. He's so happy and relaxed! I am definitely going to get into a daily massage routine with him….I look forward to spending time on the website learning more too”

Our menu for next month’s session on November 18th at 18:00 will be some adding more massage techniques to the routine plus a demonstration from Lou of energy healing. Come and join us. 

Our venue
Sam and Sarah being Ying and Yang

How am I meant to massage you that way Sam?

Kosti processing the oils he has just selected

Sam still calm and comforted

Kosti after his massage routine

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

AchyPaw Canine Mobility Advice

An important element of what I do is education….or maybe the term should be awareness. Nothing is really rocket science but it is just making the Mums and Dads of the dogs I see, aware of environmental or daily living changes they can make to help the mobility of their pet. 

The classic one is flooring, and I’ve mentioned this one many times. Wooden floors are lovely and easy to keep clean, but little paws, older paws, arthritic legs, find them tricky to keep their footing and sometimes slip and slide. Mats and rugs help enormously. You don’t have to carpet the whole house, but adding ‘islands’ of rugs as places the dogs can use to get up or lie down on, can make such a difference. Doing the homework each dog parent is given – tailored massage routines that can be done daily – help enormously as well as doing the appropriate recommended exercises. 

AchyPaw Mobility Advice

Poppy’s Mum has done EVERYTHING I suggested since my first visit last week. I was met today with “Poppy loves walking over the poles, she really lifts her hind leg to get over them, can you show me again the Incline exercise?” She showed me the little buggy she bought for £15 from the Friday Ad which she uses so that Poppy can be pushed to the park while her other dogs walk along side, and can then get out to play with her brother and sister. This means Poppy doesn’t get tired before she actually reaches the Park and her siblings don’t feel like they are missing out on their exercise. Everyone is happy and it has really benefitted her mobility. Poppy's Mum showed me the 'half steps' I suggested she bought so that Poppy could get in and out of the garden more comfortably.  She is even going to buy some more.  As I sat down on the floor to work with Poppy I had to move away the lavender heat pad that Mum had bought for Poppy to be placed over her hips after a walk to help ease out her muscles (not hot, just gentle warm heat). She has even bought a new bed for Poppy with sides so that she can fit the new memory foam mattress inside and Poppy can sleep on the floor without any draughts aggravating her arthritis. Add to that the daily massage she gives Poppy and I think the entire check list has been checked and some. And that’s just the first week. 

Very heart-warming…well done Poppy’s Mum.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

World Arthritis Day

#WorldArthritisDay matters to dogs as well. 

Osteoarthritis as a diagnosis for your dog always sounds scary. But regular visits to your vet with appropriate advice and medication plus the addition of massage, suitable exercises, advice and education, the scariness can be helped. 

Take Poppy – a 13 year old Jack Russell terrier who was referred to me by Guy from Coastway Vets with a whole series of scary sounding symptoms including hind leg weakness with slight response to medication, severe arthritis in both knees shown by X-rays which were also bony and ossified, lumbar/sacral joint of the spine showing some spondylosis which is in turn pinching the femoral nerve which is causing her right hind leg to drag. He wanted me to go along and add physical therapy to her treatment plan to ease out her discomfort and try and give her some confidence back. 

I spread my massage mat on the floor and sat on it, as usual, until the dog approaches me. Normally this takes a few minutes. But Poppy saw the mat, saw me on it and strolled across the mat to sit in my lap with her back leaning toward me. Her Mum said “Oh….she doesn’t do that to anyone. Is that normal behaviour for a dog who hasn’t seen you before?”. I replied “Erm…..well…..yes actually but not normally with such speed and confidence”. It’s not magic, it’s just dogs sense things we don’t. They don’t faff about with polite conversation and cups of tea. Once they have decided that you’re there to help it is “OK…you’re here…I’m here…get going” 

Poppy did not move for 60 minutes except to shuffle around in my lap a little. But after an hour she got up and trotted off to the garden. And that trot was a lot more mobile than when she first strolled onto the massage mat. 

I was chatting to her Mum arranging dates for the next visit when we noticed Poppy walking back and sitting on the massage mat. Down I went giving her a little extra before I left. I used the mat to show her Mum some appropriate exercises she can do to help with her balance and proprioception. Poppy then got off the mat while I folded it up for transport. As I was putting my shoes back on, Poppy returned to sit on the folded up massage mat. It took us 15 minutes for her to finally return to her usual bed. Her Mum repeated the original question “Is that normal behaviour for a dog?” My reply this time was “Erm…well…sometimes yes”. It is why I always prefer to massage dogs on a ‘special’ place like my massage mat and not in their own bed. It is a place they can associate with therapy whether it is from me or from their Mums and Dads. It is not the sleeping place, or the feeding place, or the petting place but the Therapy Place. Luther shows his displeasure at me leaving by remaining on the mat AND holding on to me. Ralph shows his displeasure at the end of a session by sitting on me so I can’t get up but when I do, he shuffles to the front door so I can’t actually get out of his house. Equally as persistent as little Poppy and equally endearing. 

Hopefully, with regular massage sessions from me, daily massage moments from her Mum, some gentle exercises to stretch out her back and rebalance her hips, Poppy will be able to manage her arthritis and have a better quality of life.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Granulomatous meningoencephalitis

Granulomatous meningoencephalitis – not a condition that rolls off the tongue. But in small breed female dogs between 6 months and 10 years of age, it is actually more common than it sounds which is why is it shortened to GME. It is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system and can affect a dog in a variety of ways depending on which part of the nervous system is affected. It also tends to show its symptoms very rapidly. 

Hattie’s Mum came home the other week to find her collapsed. A rush to the local vets resulted in a recommendation to Fitzpatrick Referrals (the Supervet) where the condition was diagnosed as “inflammatory disease of the nervous system of unidentified aetiology but most likely to be GEM” and treated with chemotherapy and prednisone. 

A couple of days after the chemo- and steroid therapy started to work, Hattie was getting better but her mobility was an issue, particularly along the right hand side and her front leg was displaying considerable paralysis. She was given some physiotherapy exercises and her Mum was advised that this needed to be continued daily. Which is where I came in. A round about referral from the Supervet via a recommendation from Paws, Play and Stay. 

I went over to visit Hattie at her home and, although she was bouncy and active, she was clearly ataxic as though she didn’t really know where her right limbs were. She bounded happily to greet me but decided that it was easier to talk to me sitting down, which is where I sat with her. She absolutely loved her massage immediately falling asleep purring – mind you, Mum is a massage therapist so she has had some Mum Therapy already. 

As you can see in the picture, her right front leg is held at an angle and she tends to knuckle with that paw. She does know where it is as, when I held it, she would press against me. And when we placed it correctly she would walk with it but then ‘forgot’ it was there. 

With Hattie, the aim was all about rehabilitation and devising exercises she can do which will help her relearn where her right legs are so that she starts to use them again. Hattie loves her food, even more so now that she is on steroid medication. At the moment, she can’t afford to put on too much weight. An exercise routine for her had to be constructed that her Mum could do without using treats. Fortunately, we’ve got quite a portfolio of active exercises and it was a case of going through the ones which would benefit her condition and could be performed treat-less. We came up with about half a dozen. It doesn’t sound a lot, but these exercises, when performed with care and consideration, can be quite fun and not a chore for the dog and a little goes a long way toward rebuilding lasting rehabilitation. Add to that mix a few appropriate massage techniques and her muscles and joints should start to show some progress. 

Hopefully, when I return, she will be less wobbly and starting to walk with more confidence.