Wednesday, 26 September 2018

2 years between canine massage sessions - same result.

It is a good plan to learn how to support your dog throughout their lifetime and to help them reach their full potential through knowledge and physical therapy. Recently I have had several returnees after a year or more to do exactly that – looking to learn more about how to manage their dog now they are a little more mature.

November 2016 I was invited over to show Mum and daughter how to massage their wonderful Retrievers Asbie and Tor. At that time Asbie was only 1 year old while Tor was 4. The other week I was invited back to give Asbie’s Mum a refresher/top-up lesson appropriate to the fact that that Asbie is no longer a new pup. Mind you, Asbie still thinks he is a new pup. At first he was being a bit of an ‘imp’ as his Mum put it, but after 30 minutes or so he assumed the “I love you Mum” position, looking up at her with that soppy grin as she worked her way through the new massage routine. 

Asbie, and brother Tor, now do agility in their garden with weaves and tunnels. But their main activity is Scent Work, once a week for 3 hours. Added to this are 2 daily walks and regular swims all contributing to the amazing condition Asbie is in at 3 years old. These activities are going to help maintain their mobility while daily massage can contribute to support their quality of life. 

Asbie has now grown into his body making it easier to see how balanced he is, how strong and toned his muscles are and any areas we need to concentrate on. In fact, he was pretty much perfect and simply needed Mum to adapt the techniques we went through 2 years ago to the increased size and mass of Asbie. As dogs grow, develop and mature, the techniques they like and need, change and adapt. 

Asbie adored the new bonding with Mum and her increased knowledge of his body. Just because he is not slowing down yet or showing any signs of discomfort doesn’t mean he won’t benefit from a daily massage routine. Getting it right at the beginning, making these simple changes, being aware of his body, will make all the difference as he matures even more. 

The one thing that hadn’t changed over 2 years is the end result – Asbie asleep & relaxed after all that massage. Here’s 2016. Not a lot difference to 2018 really. Looking forward to meeting him again in 2 years time and checking in with his progress. 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Bob's story of his first canine massage session

Sometimes a new dog comes along and the therapy session follows the textbook. 

In fact, I think Bob wrote the textbook. Bob is a young Collie with occasional rear leg issues. He is part of Sarah’s group of dog friends .  She describes him as quite non-collie in that he is chilled and laid back with only the occasional mad zoomie. At his Mum’s work, people come up to sit with Bob and just zen-out for a while. 

His Mum wanted a therapy session to check him out. During the initial palpating part of the session, Bob stood quite still and processed the whole thing. “What’s this? This is unusual. I’ll just sit here and see how this goes” 

But it worked. His stiff back was giving off loads of heat already. Once we got further into the session it went (in Bob’s voice).... 

  • “Ok…that was lovely but I’ll just go for a walk round the sofa” 
  • “And hello I’m back”
  • “Ok…I’ll go for a walk again” 
  • “And bring back my toy to hold” 
  • “Ok…I’ll go and sit by Mum and rest against the sofa” 
  • “Oh this is nice, I’ll just close my eyes” 
  • “Ok, that was an ouchy bit, I’ll open my eyes” “No I won’t…I’ll close them again” 
  • “Hmm…I’m sliding down onto the floor” 
  • “Ok, I’ll just stay here and sleep” 
  • “You’ve done that side Dr Les…here…I’ll roll over for you” 
  • “All done? Ok, I’ll pose for the pictures with my trusty blue ball”
  • “I feel like a stretch….oooooo… l-o-n-g stretch” 
  • “And I’ll do another one – ‘coz I can now” 
  • “Are you leaving? Not if I stay sitting on your massage bed and look up at you adoringly” 
  • "Ok…I’ll just curl up on the sofa…bye” 
We know our job is done for the time being, as Bob’s Mum will now be able to use this knowledge and physical therapy to support him throughout every stage of his life. But she also knows there are professionals she can call on if Bob starts to display and more wobbles. 

You don’t need to wait until your dog has mobility issues or arthritis, you can help them manage their health at an early age and maintain that through to silver faced years.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Support your dog throughout every stage of their life...

...don't just wait until they are senior or suffer from arthritis. You can help manage and maintain their mobility at an early age. 

We love working with our senior boys and girls but equally enjoy working with the newbies. Frank is only 10 months old but had already had 4 homes. His current carers adopted him 5 months ago. Not surprisingly he was initially not happy with other dogs as he had missed out on much puppy socialization. 

He is now a lot better and goes to Debbie Peters of Schooling 4 Dogs to help catch-up with his training. Recently she noticed his back seemed a bit stiff and sent a video to our colleague Cathie Forbes who, in turn, referred him to us as we are more local. 

By the way, 10/10 to Debbie for taking the video. It helped us see what she meant. Videos are great. They help you explain your concerns to your therapist or vet and they give you comparators for monitoring progress or change. My phone is full of videos of our Sarah walking which I can show to her specialist vet to explain what I see every day - we only see him twice a year and this way he can monitor her progress.

Frank is a Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross and as cute as a button. Chris was able to visit quite quickly after we received the vet agreement form (another benefit of having two therapists in the team). 

There didn’t seem to be any specifically out-of-balance issue with Frank on initial palpation although he did have a trigger point found in his shoulder. Despite being energetic and bouncy, Chris was able to perform a full massage routine on him which released a lot of fur and tension and created a lot of yawns. One of the things both Chris and his owners noticed was that, when walking on the massage mat, he held his back relaxed. On the floor, however, he hunched slightly. He also learnt that he could use the cushion to jump on the sofa and then our massage mat to get back down again rather than the wooden floor. Runners, mobility islands and mats will be re-instated. 

Chris demonstrated some back-stretching exercises and our special quick-but-efficient warm-up/cool-down Locomotion. Although no specific issues were found, Chris recommended that if the stiffness continues or they are worried, the vet should be the next port of call. 

By maintaining his balance, as Frank matures this should help him avoid having issues. This is what Cathie and I will be discussing in our winter workshops on ““Supporting your dog to reach their full potential through every stage of their life”. Give me a call if you’d like to come along.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Benefits of maintenance therapy for senior dogs

Seeing the results of our maintenance physical therapy is heart-warming. Seeing it with the senior boys and girls is even more. 

When Chris was asked to take over the treatment of glamorous silver faced Pudding in July, she had a sore back, stiffness due to her osteoarthritis, she struggled on first rising and was generally unsteady and wobbly. 

He has been visiting her every two weeks since then. 

Continued teamwork from Chris, Pudding’s Mum and Dad doing their homework and Sarah from Hounds on the Downs making sure Pudding gets the opportunity to use her new improved mobility skills during her walks, has made such a difference. A multi-faceted treatment plan involving all the carers has so many benefits. 

This video on our AchyPaw YouTube channel here says everything of why we do what we do. And it makes us smile.