Monday, 27 November 2017

2017 - a year of training milestones for us

We’ve had a lot of milestones this year with our teaching. We’ve delivered over 14 workshops and diploma courses this year plus dozens of 1 to 1 sessions. Thanks to Paws, Play & Stay for hosting many of those classes and Elizabeth Whiter with the Healing Animals Organisation for the Diploma courses. 

That’s hundreds of dog Mums and Dads in East & West Sussex (plus others who came from London and beyond) who understand what is going on under their dog’s fur and now have the skills to help maintain their health and well-being. 

We also had a diploma module with the most dogs attending ever – 19 in 2 days. And yesterday ended our teaching year with the biggest workshop of 2017 – 18 people attending. 

We were invited by the Sussex Pet Rescue ( to organise and deliver a workshop for their dog rescuers, fosterers, board members and even the founder of the SPR, Marcia Harris, who set up the organisation 50 years ago. The numbers who were interested, grew over the weeks and we filled up the hall. First time we’ve needed chairs in two rows too! 

 Dogs of all ages, from a newly rescued anxious puppy to senior dogs came along. All sizes and breeds. All levels of anxiety from very nervous to very chilled. The group started off with a ‘getting to know what’s under the fur’ session so that people could identify and pick up on any issues quicker rather than letting potential mobility problems become chronic and long-term. 

There was no fancy technology this time just a white board and pens. The pages quickly filled up with benefits of massage showing how this therapy can be used for so many different conditions and uses. Canine massage is truly multi-therapeutic and not for a single purpose only. We had dogs who needed help with their mobility due to their age or surgery. We had dogs who had been newly rescued and were quite anxious – although the littlest fella in the group decided that falling asleep on her foster Mums massage mat was far better than being nervous. We had dogs that needed a bit of stretching and myofascial release to ease out aches and strains. And we had dogs who just enjoyed it. 

We’d devised a special routine for the Sussex Pet Rescue comprising 13 massage techniques and the workshop finished with some Canine Pilates stretching the dogs out before their trips home. 

Thank you Sussex Pet Rescue, we’re looking forward to coming back to show more of your members how to help your lovely rescued dogs. 

All the pictures from the day can be viewed here


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

My Luther

My Luther 

Two years I was kindly invited to go and help Luther Weimaraner, who was then 10, by vet Guy from Coastway Vets. He and his Dads were almost at the end of the therapies they had left to offer Luther for his rear leg arthritis and resulting mobility issues. 

Philip, one of his Dads, wrote, Luther was “a HUGE dog, over 50k at one point but always fed and exercised and loved very much. 2015 wasn't great for Luther, prostate removal, stomach problems and then the diagnosis that he was very arthritic. I was devastated, not least because I hadn't noticed the change in him because we're together all the time…….I had to keep going into other rooms to cry about losing him so he didn't pick up on the vibe - you know that sounds strange to some people, but when you bond with another life, you bond” 

When Luther’s Dads heard of Guy’s suggestion of canine massage, they were a bit unsure – to put it mildly. Again, in Philip’s words “Guy said, "I know you'll think this ridiculous, but I know a chap who's a qualified dog masseur...and don't roll your eyes!" So I'm there, I've dabbled with massage, acupuncture, reflexology & Feng Shui, what did I have to lose? My best friend. So I called Dr Les kind of reluctantly. I mean I'm a realist, and the thought of paying to have my dog massaged.... But the universe gives you what you need - I'd known Dr Les for about twenty years, four times a week at the gym. He was a Dr at Brighton or Sussex Uni, and had helped me with some research for my job as a journalist but we had lost touch” 

On the first visit Luther looked sad, no other way to describe it really. But he still had enough spirit to eye me up suspiciously at the start. 

What to do with Luther? Answer : Just about EVERYTHING. He loved it. Philip said “From the first 6 weekly sessions, Luther wanted to eat again, go out, and didn't need the Tramadol. Les showed us how to learn his techniques and use them between visits” 

Two years on and Luther is still up and about. He is now swimming weekly in the Hydrotherapy pool at House of Hugo. His medication has been changed appropriately (Tramadol removed and Rimadyl added) and now he had added thyroid issues and peripheral neuropathy. But he still walks daily – he has an A Frame back end gait and rolls his right back leg out a bit while walking but that is his way now. He even runs to meet me. 

And I ADORE Luther. I really do. He and our girl, Sarah, are totally inspiring. They don’t moan, they get on with it. And that makes wanting to help them and their well-being even more special and important. To share that knowledge with a dog’s loving owners is a double bonus. 

These days with Luther, there is no faffing about. I walk in and he is down on the king-sized massage mat ready and waiting before I’ve got my jacket off. 30 minutes into the session, he gets up and turns over so I can work with the other side. Every time. Without fail. 

His Dads are really the best too. They have listened throughout. They probably know more about Luther’s muscles than they do about their own. I am sent videos of Luther walking weekly which I keep for comparative purposes. Luther’s new brother, Hugo, is also receiving massage from his Dads to keep him in top condition. 

I couldn’t ask for more really. A lovely receptive dog. Owners who take note of what I say and work with their dog daily. And two more years with a dog who is happy and comfortable. Once again, to quote Philip “Get your dog massaged? Oh please! But if you have an aging dog that seems a little stiff, you may know how it feels yourself, at least look into this service. But if you love your dog, it may be the best thing you can do for them”. If your vet suggests “It’s just arthritis”, give us a call and see how we can help you manage their condition. They may be getting older but they need not be put out to pasture yet.

Thank you My Luther 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Relax HAOK9 Massage Diploma - November 2017 Cohort

Twelve graduates from the Healing Animals Organisation became the 6th cohort to be awarded their Diploma in Relax HAOK9 Massage exclusively designed and delivered by AchyPaw Canine Massage. 

This time we had the most dogs ever to help these students learn their new skills – 19 dogs. Some stayed for the whole course, others were special guest stars. But it meant that the graduates went away with a rich diversity of knowledge in how to help and work with dogs of all conditions. 

We had puppies like Evie, we had senior dogs like Dempsey, we had first-timers like Zoe, we had returning guest stars like Perry, and we even had nervous rescue dogs ‘that don’t like men’ but ended up sitting happily in Chris’s arms. 

These fully professional therapists can now help dogs nationally, and internationally, using their new physical therapy skills to work alongside their existing energy and communication therapy skills. 

Welcome to this great new set of multi-modal therapists. 

The full set of pictures can be viewed here


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Avascular Necrosis and Complementary Therapy

Sonny’s Feedback 

In June of this year, I was invited over to help Sonny. He was then not even a year old but diagnosed with bilateral Avascular Necrosis affecting both hip joints. The vet decided the best plan for his recovery was Femoral head & neck excision. While this condition is common-ish in young dogs, to be affected with both legs at the same time is rarer. 

It meant that little Sonny could not enjoy being a puppy. He has only known wobbly gaits and compensation for his weak hind legs. The vets operated on one leg in May with the other hip booked in for 6 weeks later. 

His Mum wrote “It is very important that the muscle and scar tissue around these joints is built up to ensure as good a mobility as possible. Is this something you can help with?” She is already a Reiki practitioner and wanted to combine physical therapy with energy healing to give Sonny as much help as possible. He was also on anti-inflammatory medication. 

When I first visited him, he was walking with his hind legs closer together but was not showing any signs of gait discomfort placing both legs down equally. I guess he had never known anything different so was doing the dog thing of “Getting On With It” 

The session was more aimed at training for his Mum to build up the muscles of the leg that had been operated on to help support him for the operation on the other leg. Literally, to give him a leg to stand on! I often get asked what a fit muscle should look and feel like. 

 I use the analogy of a chicken fillet. A high-quality chicken fillet. A Waitrose or Marks & Spencer’s chicken fillet (although other supermarkets are available). The affected thigh muscles of Sonny looked more like a ham slice or lower quality fillet. They needed considerable building up. 

He had other compensatory issues, including tight neck and overused shoulder muscles. 

I devised a massage routine plus physiotherapy exercises for his Mum to perform daily. 

I recently had an email saying “I just thought you'd like an update on Sonny. The massage techniques and exercises you taught me were so helpful in his recovery. He went on to have the second surgery carried out in July from which he has recovered equally well using massage and exercise. He hasn't needed any further intervention and his Lidl chicken fillets as you called them are now looking like Tesco Finest!! We've just returned from a break on the Isle of Wight where he ran freely on the beach for hours on end. So a big thank you to you from us!!” 

I asked if it was OK to share this story and his Mum said “It can be very worrying for people who find their dog needs this operation, but it is generally very successful and Sonny is living proof!! If his story can help other owners that would be wonderful.” 

 She also sent some photos of Sonny post-operation and allowed me to share his before and after X-rays. Look at the way the femoral head was not fitting in the socket in the ‘before’ picture on the left and how the head was excised in the ‘after’ picture. Here are all the pictures – shared. 

Poor old Sonny had spent his puppy days with those ill-fitting joints. Physical therapy, massage, exercise, Reiki and medication all working to allow Sonny to run like the puppy he should be on the beach in the Isle of Wight. What a great transformation and testament to the power of complementary therapy.