Saturday, 31 March 2018

Treating more than one dog at once - our new service

In a single treatment session, we offer many things. As well as therapy, we give advice on household adaptations, exercise advice and appropriate homework. Now that we have two members in the AchyPaw team, we have a new time-saving service to offer – multi-dog households treated simultaneously. 

The internet is full of ways to manage more than one dog in the house. Indeed, one behaviourist refused us entry to their class when ours were puppies and was very rude about our choice of having siblings. We set out to prove them wrong and now we’ve had 12 wonderful fun filled years of experience working with two dogs and wouldn’t change one moment of it. Our Sam & Sarah have always had equal Dad time. 

That experience helps when working with other brothers and sisters. If I’m working with medium breeds, such as my spaniel brothers, treating one after the other is perfectly do-able. It takes 45 to 60 minutes each dog. But we now have two sets of bigger brothers. Working one after the other with them could take up to 3 hours which would involve considerable patience and waiting time for the dogs. Solution? We work with one each simultaneously. 

Thursday and Friday were Weimaraner brother days. With the first pair, the plan was for me to continue working with Bruce again, as he has been treated by me before, while Chris would start work on Tino. Well, that was the plan. Bruce eyed up Chris and decided he was his. No problem - we always let the dog direct the session. Unfortunately, Laura was unable to visit our other Weimaraner brothers this week, so Friday Luther decided he’d continue with me while Hugo laid down in front of Chris. Another pair of dogs but half the time. Working with two dogs at the same time also has the benefit that they pick up on each other's relaxation. Two sets of snores.

Success all round as the pictures show. If you’ve got a multi-dog household and want to take advantage of two professionally qualified therapists, give us a call. 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Working with rescue dogs

Meet Minger

I know….there is a story behind the name. But she is actually quite a stunner. She is a Breton Spaniel, rescued by Mel Beck who fell in love with her and now has adopted her. Minger was rescued from Spain having been discarded by a hunter when she had served her purpose. She was part of the Save Our Spaniels Rescue, an organisation who Rescue, rehabilitate, rehome Spaniels in need abroad. (We are offering a discount for any local SOS rescued Spaniels who need, or would benefit from, treatment – please ask us for details.) 

When Minger arrived in the UK, she had developed a limp on her right rear leg which was diagnosed as a cruciate issue. She had an operation at the start of the year which was successful. But she was still preferring to lift the operated leg and walk using the left rear leg only. Due to the reduced exercise she had also developed a couple of extra ‘saddle bags’. 

We have worked with Mel some years ago with the amazing Mr Khan and so offered our services for free to help Minger back to full balance and mobility. 

Like many rescue dogs, her actual age is not known. She was said to be 8 but looks far younger at around 5. But with the wobbly back leg and saddle bags it is not too easy to tell. Her new Dad has plans for her to be his Cani-Cross partner when she is back to top health. When they came over, it was evident she was carrying a stiff back, loose thigh muscles for the right and tight thigh muscles for the left. She needed therapy to make her symmetrical again. 

Luckily, she adores touch and settled in to therapy immediately. In fact, she ended up doing the rounds – going from Chris, to me, to Dad, to Mum and back to Chris again. Not one to waste any therapy time. 

With now informed eyes and our ‘homework’, her carers can now continue with the massage therapy and rehabilitation exercises to help her regain her confidence to use all 4 legs once more and get in shape for the Cani-Cross season. Mel wrote up Minger’s story and messaged me “She’s doing really well. Andy has been giving her 15 mins of massage every night and she seems to be walking better. The dip in her back is variable, sometimes up, sometimes down. Loves the treats and walking across Andy’s legs fine. He’s been getting her to support her back end with right leg down only and left leg slightly raised. She’s limping a lot less and we’ve dared to let her potter about at the stables without a lead which has had a hugely positive effect on her psychologically. It’s lovely to see the bond building between them” 

Appropriate early rehab and therapy for cruciate issues can make a big difference in quality of recovery. Add to that caregiver involvement, education and empowerment and you’re well on the road to successful rehabilitation. If you’ve got a dog with similar issues, give us a call. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Putting up with it

Sometimes, on a first visit to a dog, it is apparent that they must have been in pain or uncomfortable for some time. The configuration of their body or the tension in their muscles didn’t just come on overnight. Spasms and strains in dogs do happen but they typically occur suddenly and, with appropriate help, ease off quickly. These are acute issues. Putting up with it is often a chronic issue. 

Anyone who has ever had a dog knows how stoic they can be. They don’t seem to want to show their discomfort. When living with their humans, they just want to get on with being their best friend, accompanying us on our walks, following us round the house and generally being with us wherever we are, even if it means they ache. 

Our job, as therapists, is to try and identify the issue and help to ease or break that pain cycle. Pain doesn’t have to be due to the things you see or know about, like arthritis. It can be something equally insidious which you just don’t notice as your dog has been putting up with it for so long.  We know that 4 in 5 senior dogs suffer with arthritis, but that leaves the younger dogs and other seniors who could be suffering from some other painful condition which can be helped by physical therapy.  Let's not forget them.

Handsome Spaniel Lord Nelson, for example, was likely kept crated or in a single room for a while before he was rehomed. He even had to be taught how to walk in the outdoors as his legs were so underused. When his new Dads were alerted to the hunched shape of his spine they started therapy with us. 

Working with the carer and the dog, we felt our way through all his physical issues helping to put them right again. 

Recently I was chatting to Lord Nelson’s Dad and he wrote “In fact we were just saying that Nelson seems a lot happier/cheekier (depending on if you are on the receiving end of his never- ending demand/stubbornness) since you started working on him. Only thing we could think of is he probably always had a (low level) pain with his spine/legs, though he just put up with it. Now this is gone, he's a happier boy (and we have two trouble makers!)” 

Feedback like that means the world. With the new eyes that his Dads have regarding his mobility, gait and physicality, and maintenance therapy visits from us, they will have to put up with him being a happy healthy family member, an-all round trouble-making demanding stubborn boy. Lord Nelson, meanwhile, won’t have to put up with living with his discomfort. 
And as a P.S. I was reminded by his Dad of the all important poo details - he always had to lean on a tree to do his business but now he can squat like all self respecting Spaniel boys. How long did Lord Nelson have to put up with that? Clearly he knew it wasn’t right, but he had to put up with it. No more PoohGate for Lord Nelson.