Saturday, 30 December 2017

Going the extra mile to manage canine arthritis - meet the Corkie Stair Lift

I love the fact that we dog carers go to extra lengths to make our dogs comfy. The award of the year for 2017 has to go to Corkie’s Dad. He has built him a Corkie Stair Lift. 

Corkie is a 12 year rescue who spends all his time with his Dad. Recently he started to show signs of slowing down and discomfort so was taken to the vet who suggested there was some arthritis in his mid-spine. Shoulders and hips felt fine though. 

Corkie lives in a lovely house which unfortunately has many flights of narrow stairs to get to the top floor. There was no way his Dad could ask him to continue climbing those. He had to be carried. But it was a long way. His Dad would end up doing his own back in which would be bad news for both. Also, picking Corkie up the wrong way could make his spinal issues more uncomfortable. It would only need him to wriggle or twist and that would exacerbate his arthritis. Cue some wonderful resourceful inventiveness. His Dad came up with the Corkie Stair Lift (CSL). 

The inspiration was a basket used to carry things – but with an extra twist. CSL Mk1 was a bit heavy and clumsy. He’s now on CSL Mk2 which is a wooden lightweight open ended carrying frame with a fluffy cushion for Corkie to sit in. A treat is inserted into the frame. Corkie enters the frame. Corkie lies down. Dad carries Corkie in the CSL down the stairs. At the bottom, Corkie walks out of the CSL into the hall. No effort on his back. 

How amazing is that? Much admiration to Corkie’s Dad. 

Apparently CSL Mk3 is on the cards which will be a lighter slightly thinner version so Corkie fits snugly inside. Corkie’s Dad’s inventions are going to be bigger than Bitcoins next year! 

Meanwhile, Corkie is up for complementary therapy to help him manage his arthritis. He is already on supplements. As well as the CSL ©, carpets are now being used to cover the wooden floors. Food bowls are raised. And a ramp has been bought for the car. 

All that is left is a massage lesson – which was why I was called round. That was my job for the day. 

After a quick tour of Corkie’s body, his Dad started working with him. If Corkie could speak, he would have said “At last Dad….at last. That is sooooooo good”. Corkie is the new definition of receptive. We knew exactly where he needed his help – mainly along his stiff back muscles. Every time his Dad hit the spot Corkie closed his eyes in ecstasy and grinned. 

In fact, by the end of the 2 hour session, Corkie decided that anywhere was good. Anywhere and everywhere. Thighs. Shoulders. Neck. Chest. Just bring it on Dad. 
 When we’d finished, Corkie was prancing around the room looking so much happier and flexier. 

But this session was not all about Corkie. His Dad needed to feel that he could do something for Corkie. I think this was a result too as he said "I now feel inspired to help Corkie". That's my job done. 

With this early diagnosis from the vet, daily physical therapy from a wonderful inventive Dad after our guided instruction session, some recommendations on exercise and other therapies, plus Corkie's receptive nature, this little fella should be looking at a comfortable 2018 with lots of fun and walks.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Come on the Locomotion

Well…..there’s a first 

When we got to the Park this morning at 7:00, the temperature was below zero and it was very frosty. So, after getting the dogs out of the back of the car, we did our Locomotion routine on them. 

A lady, who’d just drawn up, got out of her car and said, in a quizzical unbelieving voice “Wait……did you just warm-up your dogs?” The reply came in stereo from us “Yes” in a why-not tone of voice. Chris had been warming-up Sarah and I’d been warming-up Sam. 

She was then more than interested to find out what we’d been doing. I explained that we designed the quickest effective warm-up routine in Sussex which we call The Locomotion. After waving my hands in the air, showing her how to do it, I explained that the dogs love it. It’s fast. It’s very warming. And if you sing a warmy-up song while doing it the dogs add to the routine by becoming bouncy. 

I explained the song lyrics doesn’t really matter – she started singing “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” If you turn up the volume on the video here , you’ll hear the booming voices of the Healing Animal Graduates with their rendition of the Locomotion. (Yes, the AchyPaw workshops are full of fun and interaction while you’re learning). Or you can simply make up your own song. Mine….it’s a rubby dubby song. 

As long as you warm your dog up before exercise – even a walk – especially on these cold days and nights, it can help to prevent injuries from cold muscles. Like our Locomotion routine, it doesn’t need to take ages, and the dogs get to expect it, even asking for it – standing still after they get out of the car until they’ve had their warm-up. They are clearly more sensible than us. 

My mission for 2018 has now expanded. Added to my first mission to help all caring owners become aware of early signs of arthritis or other mobility issues teaching them how to help their dogs before these problems become chronic, is to share and spread the importance of warming their dogs up, and, of course, cooling them down afterwards. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s efficient, it’s The Locomotion, it’s all part of our service.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Another review of our workshops

Our introduction to the Sussex Pet Rescue was through a training session I did early in the summer. There was a pleasant surprise yesterday to receive a copy of their latest Newsletter with an article about my session with Pearl (and her brother Archie). 

The article says "Pearl is our 10 year old Staffie adopted from the SPR 3 years ago. 

She had a very rough start in life, and, adding that to her age, we discovered she was starting to creak a bit as she went about her daily life. We decided to look for a way to help her tired bones get through the day. By chance we met Dr Les Ellam at a dog show where he was demonstrating massage techniques. We introduced Pearl to him and, when he began to massage her, she simply melted. 

After a lot of happy grunting from Pearl we managed to chat to Les and discovered, among a variety of classes etc, he did home visits. We arranged a day for him to visit and work with Pearl and our Beagle Archie. Les arrived and began with a very informative chat about a dog's anatomy and structure which was full of common sense and not the usual dry lecture. 

After 2 hours learning how to massage our dogs, taking their individual needs into account, he then showed us some warm-up and cool-down techniques to be used when exercising the dogs. 

In addition, my wife Sue, is disabled and Les showed her how to perform his techniques with the dogs sitting on her lap. Pearl and Archie probably had the best two hours of their lives and, as the photo shows, Pearl enjoyed a snooze afterwards. 

As a bonus, about 24 hours later, Les emailed a complete guide to everything we done with him including diagrams. 

We now spend about 15 minutes a day massaging the dogs and it is a great way to end the day with them. One complaint - they both spend a lot of time rolling around in front of us trying to get extra rubs!" 

I'll happily take that complaint!

Adding canine massage to your dog's daily routine can't start too early

When I started AchyPaw all those years ago, I mainly had requests to help with dogs who were already showing symptoms from their arthritis. But this year, I’ve had more people asking me to help their young dogs or dogs newly diagnosed with arthritis. They are trying to help early rather than waiting until the disease starts to maim and lead to mobility issues. All also want to learn a daily routine that they can use in between therapy sessions. 

Awareness of complementary ways to help arthritis and other mobility limiting issues is spreading. 

Imagine how wonderful it must be for a dog having Massage + Owner in one place. Dogs love massage. Dogs love their owners. And now their owners are helping them with physical therapy. What a powerful treatment. 

Now meet Daisy. She had pneumonia when she was only 18 months old which led to one third of a lung being removed. She is not yet 5 but after having X-rays for another problem, her vets discovered possible spondylosis and the beginning of arthritis. Her Mum said she is ‘clicky’ which sums it up perfectly and sometimes her left elbow becomes swollen which results in a slight limp. 

 Daisy is still young. If we can start helping to strengthen her muscles and joints, keeping them supple and healthy, we should be able to maintain her quality of life. 

Two years ago, her Mum visited us at the RSPCA Open Day and took a card. When she recently found out that Daisy might have mobility issues later in life, she immediately called for a treatment and hands-on session. 

 Daisy wasted no time in getting down to the treatment session. She fell asleep almost before I was sitting on the floor with her. I was able to work completely on one side, before we got her up to turn her over so Mum could practice on the other side. Interestingly, that was the side where she’d had her operation scar and she was slightly more reactive. But that was good, as her Mum could learn all about taking the pressure off over sore parts. And sure enough, Daisy then let her Mum perform the full routine. 

Owners + Massage = very happy content healing dog. 

It’ll be a good day when all caring owners become aware of early signs of arthritis or other mobility issues in young dogs and look to help their dogs before these problems become chronic and the dog must constantly cope with their discomfort. That’s my mission for 2018.