How young is too young to learn canine massage? I’ve never really thought about it until the other day when I had an enquiry from a Mum of a young dog who wanted to come along to one of my workshops. I’ve successfully worked with several dogs under the age of 1 and even had a couple come along to a workshop who were 6 months old. One of those ended up fast asleep in the middle of the room after 45 minutes and only interrupted the class with his snoring, while another was too excited about being in a room with lots of other dogs.
But there are plenty of human Mum and Baby massage groups and workshops available. In fact, Chris’s new grandson, the gorgeous smiley Caleb, went to such a class to improve his motor co-ordination and general body awareness. So why not Mums and Puppies?
I felt it best to give the Mum a call and see why she wanted the session and to learn more about her dog. We had a 45 minute chat – very thorough.
As to The Why, the puppy was her first dog, she had only had cats before. She felt she didn’t really know anything about dogs – how they work, how they bond, how they play and, most importantly, how to look after them physically.
As to The Who, the puppy was a Labrador. His name was Sherlock. He was black. He was cute. He was 18 weeks old.
Well…let’s be honest, she had me at puppy. Then at Labrador. Then again at Sherlock. I was putty by that time.
OK…let’s go for it. We felt that the puppy would struggle sitting still, or laying still, in a class format so Mum decided to bring him here. From Streatham in London. A long way to come. That’s dedication for you and a Mum who really wants to go that extra mile (literally in this case) to help her and her dog.
I collected Mum, her Mum and Sherlock at the station rather than making them get a taxi or bus. Well….I wanted to see this smasher first hand. He was sitting very politely by the kerb waiting for his transport. Oh….love at first sight. He even sat in my car happily watching the Brighton traffic go past. I don’t think he was listening to my commentary about the Royal Pavilion or the Pier or Roedean or the Lido….he just was in awe of the world.
During our trip home, I was asking his Mum more about The Why. It turns out that Sherlock has been rather poorly in his 18 weeks with lots of tummy issues, ear problems and has been on antibiotics more times than not. Mobility wise he is fine but he could do with some Sherlock Down Time to help his insides recover and heal. His Mum said “he always looks sad. I want to be able to help him”.
That did it for me. This was going to be success if it took all afternoon.
As it happened, we didn’t need all afternoon. We ran through the massage techniques that could be performed on a puppy which would help keep those growing muscles in top condition and others than could help him relax. We used both Sarah and Sam, the magic demo dogs, to try things out while Sherlock entertained himself chewing the carpet.
Then it was his turn. Unexpectedly, Sherlock remained in one place throughout the first run through of the routine. A bit of wriggling but no getting up to see what is over there. Remarkable.
We then took him in the garden for a wee and a leg stretch before checking out what his Mum had remembered. This was the defining moment of my canine career I reckon. Sherlock, remember EIGHTEEN weeks, just flopped in his Mum’s lap, smiled and fell asleep. Yes, there were tears. I might have joined in.
Was he happy? You bet he was. Was he relaxed? Well he was snoring like a good ‘un. Was his Mum now his best friend ever? Just look at the pictures. Listen to the accompanying video posts.
This worked largely because his Mum wanted it to. So much. She needed to know that she and Sherlock will now be a life team. And I think they will. All it took was 3 massage techniques to change his life and hopefully start him on his road to recovery. His Mum performed those three over and over while he snoozed peacefully grinning with an occasional endearing toe stretch.
My day with Sherlock is certainly going in my book of Top Ten Canine Massage Moments.