Monday, 28 January 2019

The best Before & After

Last week 14 year old Harry had a bit of a turn with a seizure or possible stroke. It left him all scrunched up. 

When his Mum Sarah from Hounds on the Downs sent me the Before picture everything about his posture suggested he needed some gentle stretching to ease his back and regain his confidence. I sent her some of our leg, back and neck stretches to try. 

The After picture is after they have done some of these gentle exercises – nothing intrusive just asking him to lean forward with a treat inducer. In this way, he is stretching himself, all Sarah had to do was to hold the treat in front of his nose making sure he his alignment was longways which will, in turn, make his weight equally balanced right and left, his back is straight, and his eyes are looking forward to ensure proper cervical alignment. 

Harry’s favourite vet nurse, Jay from Coastway, has also been involved with his recuperation, showing Sarah where she needs to concentrate on Harry. 

There is still a way to go but Sarah said he is looking less wobbly and moving much more comfortably. 

Cooperation and Teamwork (Harry, Mum, vet nurse Jay and us)
+ Education and Knowledge (Not just knowing but doing)
+ Perseverance (Not giving up)
+ Awareness (Knowing what signs to look for before issues become chronic) 

 = Great Big Result 

#notjustmassage #spreadtheword

Monday, 21 January 2019

Intention, intention, intention - Canine Massage Rule No.1

Among the ‘New for 2019’ dogs was Vintage Girl Rokit, a 13 year Lab who was referred to us by Guy of Coastway Vets with generalised osteoarthritis and stiff back. She also has Cushings and Vestibular Syndrome as well as a cyst in her neck. But she still manages her walks in the countryside every day. 

Why Rokit? Because she was very speedy when she was a puppy and her younger siblings couldn’t spell Rocket – hence Rokit. 

 I was told she can be a bit wary of new people who are touching her. But she rather seemed to take to me – putting her head straight down and shifting her body so I could get to all areas. I think she even knew what I was saying. “If you can’t get to the side she’s laying on, don’t worry – do that side another day” I said. To which she rolled over giving me access to the ‘other side’. Dogs are brilliant. 

Her Mum is a human massage therapist so had all the skills but just needed to think of Rokit, not as her best friend when working with her, but as a client. That way all her massage intuition and experience will flow naturally. Intention, intention, intention. So important. 

You can’t play at massage. There is not a prescription that fits every dog. It doesn’t follow the same pattern. You need empathy. You need the dog to know you’re there to help and not play. 

Using her existing massage skills and looking at her in a new way, Rokit’s Mum will be able to carry on all the good work. We ended up with some simple and fun stretching exercises before letting Rokit snooze off all that excitement. Vintage Girls need their beauty naps

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Creaks, ouchy bits and wobbles

11 year old Miniature Poodle Tilly's Mum described her issue as ‘creaking’ when she stretches and wondered if she would benefit from maintenance massage sessions. 

We love terms like ‘creaking’ and ‘ouchy bits’ as they not only perfectly describe what is going on, but describe how it must feel. I often get up from the floor after an hour working with a dog and feel creaky. My knees often get ouchy. Terms like that can bring home the discomfort our dogs might be undergoing. 

Tilly is quite an anxious dog with people she doesn’t know (she has a short list of OK people) but she sat in my lap shaking slightly. She wasn’t trying to get away at all, but keeping her eye on me just in case. Over the next few minutes the shakes started to subside until 10 minutes in we were like life long besties. No shakes, just sleepy eyes and relaxed yawns. 

When I went to leave, she was most put out, clambering up my leg to try and keep me behind for more. I think I’m now on her list of ‘nice people’.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Trust and Canine Physical Therapy


When working with dogs that is a HUGE word. You’re performing physical therapy, not petting. The dog may not have been touched in a professional way before. Petted certainly, but intentional touch. Possibly not. 

You can’t force them to enjoy massage. You can’t force trust. It will happen. It’s not about pampering. Massage will affect all parts of their body. Muscles, nervous system, lymphatic system, joints – everything. That is bound to feel odd at first for a dog. Plus, your dog might be sore, tense, anxious or uncomfortable. And here is someone touching them. If you’ve had a massage session yourself, you’ll know how important it is to feel safe and have trust in your therapist. 

By working with the dog, letting them know this is not coddling but beneficial touch, that trust is built up. And they let you in – physically and emotionally. 

When we were working with Alfie and Flint recently, both leaned in for a head to head touch. And later while Chris was working with Alfie, Flint decided he would sit in his lap while I was working with him. Trusting. Special. #bestjobintheworld 

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

New Year Resolution - keeping fit with volunteering

Lots of people are making New Year Resolutions around getting fit (fitter). How about combining that with helping a dog? 

Chris and I volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust helping people who can’t walk their own dogs – because of infirmity or circumstance. 

We’ve been walking the handsome Alfie for over a year now. Twice a week for 45 minutes up to the Windmill in Rottingdean. Lots of hills for us to climb and lots of fresh air once we’re up there. Alfie is 13 but still does his zoomies although his favourite pastime is to sniff. Everything. Absolutely everything. Except when it’s wet. On those days it’s a quick out and back again walk. Clever Alfie 

The other week we were contacted about helping Whiskey (not the drink – the 11 year old yellow Lab with a white stripe down his back). Whiskey lives very close to us and right opposite a Park. He already has a number of volunteers help him but we were told any extra would be great – typically once a week. 

So after all the indulgences of the festive season, New Years Day saw me walking round the Park getting my exercise while Whiskey was catching up on all the pee mail he’d missed. Double result. 

All you need to offer is a day a week for 45 minutes or so (depending on age and ability of the dog) and you can assist with keeping that dog with their loving Mum or Dad. Plus, all the exercise, fresh air, dog cuddles, smiles and laughs that walking a dog gives you.