Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Fostering a dog

For the past few weeks we’ve been a family of 5. Chris and I volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust – a network of volunteers who keep together housebound owners and their best chums by helping them out. It only takes an hour or so a week and we walk their dogs. Seems right really to give back to the souls who give us so much. A few Sundays ago, we were contacted by the Trust to see if we could do an emergency foster for a dog whose Mum had to be taken into Hospital. We weren’t going to leave that dog alone, so Chris went to collect her. 

She was a 13 year old Shih Tzu with poor eyesight – quite confused and anxious as to what was happening. She had clearly been the best companion to her Mum probably sitting on her lap 24/7. Here she was in a new house, with two dogs and lots of new space She also has chronic rear limb arthritis and was quite wobbly – she had come to the right house then. But like many of you fosterers out there, we had no idea what her medical history was, medication she was on or what her exercise routine was. We had to figure it all out initially (we now know she is on monthly Cartrophen injections). Plus, what do you feed a Shih Tzu? How much do they eat? How often do they go to the loo? All the things that we know intuitively with our Sam & Sarah. 

Fortunately, Stanley’s Mum makes collars and coats (Stanley is also a 13 year old Shih Tzu who I’ve been visiting for the past 2 years) and a quick call and visit resulted in me being given special Shih Tzu food, some harnesses and a coat. Thank you Viv. 

Over the next few weeks a shaking timid anxious dog turned into a confident strutting tail wagging girl. She even learned our existing routines – such as food time, walk time, pee time and quite a lot of our Sarah’s attitude! And as for our Sam, one morning our new little addition was annoyed by a dog while out. Our Sam placed himself between her and the offender to protect her – that’s our boy. We now had three dogs in a line at the front door when anyone came to visit, three dogs in a line when the food bowls went down, three dogs at the back door waiting to go into the garden for an explore and the loo and three dogs who needed lifting in and out of the car. 

It wasn’t easy, but it was an enjoyable challenge. And yes, we are quite (very) fond of her. And I have total admiration for all you fosterers who do this all the time. If any of you local fosterers ever need any help with some physical therapy for your foster dogs, get in touch with us. There will be no charge. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Benefits of AchyPaw Canine massage

There are all sorts of signs during and after a massage therapy session, that it has been of benefit. As well as the dog moving more freely and balanced, typically we finish with a dog comfortably relaxed on the floor. Then the gait benefits are harder to see.

But, as shown by Pudding here, there are drippy noses (indicating that lymphatic drainage has taken place flushing out all the nasties from the body), a relaxed posture (relief from discomfort) bright shiny eyes and overall physical ease.

Chris has been visiting 12 year old Pudding every two weeks for some months now. Her progress since that time has been heartwarming and encouraging. She now manages to keep up with her Hounds on the Downs chums.

She is another poster girl demonstrating the benefits of our AchyPaw therapy techniques.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Cheap and effective canine rehabilitation and muscle building ideas

Our Sarah has been through a bit of a time with it all lately. She had a large cyst on her wrist for the past few months which started to open. Rather than risk infection, the vets opted to remove it. All fine. Until she decided that the long stringy blue thread was far too tempting and pulled the stitch out. 
We now had an open wound. Many weeks of wrapping it up and wearing the dreaded collar followed, and still are, to try and heal the wound. But that meant no hydrotherapy. And that meant the wobbles came back. 

We added extra sessions of laser and acupuncture from vet Eili Dettmering to help fill the missing piece in the jigsaw of multi-therapies but she was still losing some of the rear end muscle mass she had rebuilt with the months of weekly hydrotherapy. We needed to add something else. 

As well as our range of exercises and stretches, we added the Sticky Licky Mat. That was something she really enjoyed. They cost around a £ (if you’re prepared to wait a bit for delivery), can be stuck on any appropriate surface and can be filled with all sorts of squishy foods. 

For several minutes the dog stands – using front AND rear legs – to gradually lick the food out. A really simple and effective mobility restoring tool. To the dog, they are getting food. To the therapist, they are getting exercise. Add in a massage mat for them to stand on, and their balance is being exercised too. 

It took a few goes to get the height right – too low and she was stooping, too high and she was stretching (although both heights would have their use in different rehabilitation cases). For Sarah, I could see she received the best benefit at just above nose height. 

It also took a few goes at finding the right treat to use as well. Cottage cheese was a no-no – went everywhere! Low calorie cream cheese, meat and even sweet potato mash worked fine. I have had to buy another for our Sam, who doesn’t really need it but enjoys the exercise – although he thinks he is just licking treats. 

Why does she have a brown patch on her back? Interesting story. Before she started seeing Eili she had alopecia over most of her body. Brown thin fur. But bit by bit, the acupuncture and laser has helped free any blockages and the fur is coming back. It was as though she has been dipped in black ink which gradually spread up her legs and along her back. One stubborn patch left but we’ll get there. Don’t underestimate all sorts of benefits from acupuncture and laser. 

Why is she looking like a Gym Bunny wearing a sweat band on her wrist? To protect the wound and bandage. We have lots of these indoors for her to wear when her wrist arthritis flares up – keeps the wrists warm and comfortable. And can be recycled as bandage protectors. 

You don’t need to shell out a lot of money to help your dog. There are plenty of cheap but effective toys that you can use as therapeutic tools. I’m certainly adding Sticky Licky Mats to my toolkit. Or recycle stuff like gym wrist bands for arthritis or protectors. Give us a call if you’d like any help with rehabilitation or exercise advice. 

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Maintaining the quality of life of a dog with manual therapy and more

My Luther is the dog I’ve worked with longest – over 3 years. When he was first referred to AchyPaw, his Dads had run out of ideas to help with his increasing arthritis in his hips. He had gone off his back legs and they feared the worst. 

When their vet first told their Dads of us, they were a bit sceptical to say the least. His Instagram comment in 2015 was “Luther hardly moves but I’ve got a canine massage therapist coming on Saturday – I kid you not. Can’t quite believe I’ve even shared that – that’s SO Brighton”. 

One week later a video of me massaging his handsome boy went up on the same Instagram feed (search #lutherweimaraner) with a comment of “Luther having his weekly massage with Dr Les. This stuff works!”. Well that didn’t take long to convince Dad did it? 

And 3 weeks later the comment went “Luther having his 3rd massage….Luther actually RAN along the road when he saw him”. So that’s Luther convinced too. 

Since then Luther and I have shared a journey. He still has his bad days – that’s the insidious nature of osteoarthritis. We’ve been through hydrotherapy and various medication regimes. On his really bad days, it’s easy enough to just get on the AchyPaw bike and go to give him an extra boost of massage benefit. His mobility is greatly helped by his Help’Em Up harness which he wears all day now. It gives him the confidence that he is not going to slip or fall as his Dads can support him from the front and back. Plus being massaged daily by his Dads benefits too and all the household adaptations they have put in place. 

He’s just celebrated his 13th birthday. He walks less than he used to 3 years ago – but so do I. He has even gained a new brother, Hugo (Instagram #hugoweimaraner) who I spotted on Waifs & Strays website and thought would make a great addition to their family. The boys get on as though they have always been together. Massage sessions HAVE to be done with them both side by side. 

Every 4 weeks Hugo now gets his own massage from me while Chris works with Luther, or the other way round depending on which dog picks who. But on the days Chris is not there, his Dad massages him using the tools we have equipped them with over the years. 

Thanks for the journey Luther. Looking forward to much more.