Monday, 25 March 2019

Starting canine physical early

A frequent misconception we hear and read is that massage therapy is only necessary for a dog when mobility issues appear. In fact, it is equally appropriate to start manual therapy before these issues appear. 

Dogs are putting their bodies through all sorts of stressors – both mental and physical – every day. Helping to prevent these stressors becoming a chronic issue is just as important as treating an existing injury. 

A dog who fits into this category is Ziggy. He is an 8 month old (possibly but not sure) rescue from Spain. He is largely a Vizsla with something else. He has a very gentle soul. When he greeted me at the door, he didn’t jump up at me...jump would imply he was more of a gentle placing of each front foot on my chest with a look of “I don’t know who you are but I love you anyway”. 

When he arrived from Spain, he was very reactive - understandably. New house, new country, new brother and all that after a long trip in a van across Europe. His new Mum and Dad immediately started working with canine behaviourists and trainers to deal with his reactiveness. 

He is fine with people, it’s other dogs and the outside world which stresses him. He was very thin on arrival and has filled out a lot. 

He also seemed quite hunched (again understandably) so we were both invited over to check him out physically while working with his brother.

All these stressors will affect the way Ziggy holds his body and move. Luckily, he is in stunning condition and couldn’t get enough touch. He seemed to enjoy his preventative check-up session.

Friday, 22 March 2019

New indicator of canine physical therapy benefit - zoopharmacognosy choices

Roxy is a 10 and a half year old Labrador who was rescued a couple of years ago. Her Mum wanted to make sure her life continued to be full of enrichment and comfort. Mum Mel is a graduate of the Healing Animals Organisation and came along to both our Relax HAO modules – Levels 1 and 2. Roxy came to Level 2 and during the course transformed from a reactive vocal girl to “It’s can walk over and around me now…I’m so chilled, happy and relaxed” girl. 

She has started to limp occasionally on her left hip and sometimes checks herself before moving in a “I can do this….I just need to think about it first” way. The vet said that she is displaying general wear & tear with possible arthritis and stiffness on the back left leg. 

Despite being used to massage from Mum, my session was probably longer and more targetted than she has had in a while. She decided she needed breaks in between – which is fine. It allowed time to get her fur out of my beard. S
he seemed overall tight and stiff. Nothing specific but, as the vet said, general wear and tear. Regular targetted intentional massage and exercise should help her enormously. She also needed a lot of myofascial release over her body to free the restricted muscle movement. This will also help her to stand straighter and comfortable. 

By the end of the 90 minute session, she could barely keep her eyes open. Sitting was way too much effort and lying down preferable. One outcome that I’ve never had before – choice of oils. Along with other therapies, Mel practices zoopharmacognosy - self-medication by selecting and ingesting of offered oils. Roxy has been selecting oils for joint stiffness and pain recently. At the end of the therapy session, Mel offered her the same oils, but Roxy was having none of that. Instead she looked at me with a “Hey Dr Les…I’ll have more of what you’re offering please”. Clearly, she didn’t need the extra help of the oils. That will be a useful indicator for her manual therapy progress.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Sorry not sorry

We first visited Charley the handsome Labrador a few weeks ago after he’d had a fall. The plan was to treat him and then pass on some therapeutic skills to his Mum so she can help him recover and maintain his mobility. 

Chris visited Charley the other week to see how things were progressing and he was certainly better but still his usual vocal self. 

This time when Chris visited, he could see Charley through the window but he wasn’t barking. His look was “‘Oh ..... it’s Uncle Chris. I’ll just ignore him”. Now that is one chilled relaxed comfy dog. That’s usually a result for us but unfortunately Charley is the door alarm. As his Mum said “I can’t believe Charley didn’t bark at all! We don’t have a doorbell because we have a Charley” 

As far as his massage goes, his Mum wrote “Charley loves it and jumps on my bed every evening ready!”. One problem we had initially was getting to both sides – Charley used to prefer the same side every time. A trick I learned early on, to turn a dog over (you certainly do NOT want to flip them over) is to simply ask the dog. That tends to work. And it does with Charley…. “Oh he is one chilled boy now! And he DOES roll over to have the other side done. You were right.... I just had to ask him!” 

A well-known indicator of the benefit of massage is that the dog becomes more relaxed. A little less well-known indicator is that you then have to go and buy a door bell. 

Sorry not sorry. While I’m sorry about the latter, I’m not sorry at all that Charley is relaxed. Keep on Chilling Charley. Mum can buy a door bell down the local hardware store.