Monday, 17 June 2019

Enrichment with your dog doesn't have to be physical activity : Charley's story

“It’s so lovely….it’s not just about the fact that I’m helping Charley but it’s about the time we spend together”. 

We first met Charley and his Mum in February when she put up a desperate plea for help on the Hanover Dogs Facebook group. He was struggling to walk, was clearly uncomfortable and, naturally, his Mum was beside herself with worry. 

Having gained his vet’s consent to treat, on the first session we were able to not only offer him a thorough investigation and treatment, but also sent his Mum her own massage routine tailored specifically for his needs, some exercises, lots of ideas for household adaptations and some suggestions of other things she could add to his treatment plan. 

Charley has now been on his own multi-modal regime for 4 months now : massage daily from his Mum (Charley knows it is massage time when the Emmerdale theme tune comes on), maintenance massage from us, frequent text messages between Charley and us, Yumove Advanced, Paracetamol, rugs and mats in all the previously slippy places, harnesses to help him up the stairs to bed, raised food bowls, safe stretching exercises and laser therapy (weekly at first and now fortnightly).

His Mum asked if I could come back to make sure she is doing everything right with her massage techniques. Doing it right? Goodness, she was amazing. She was doing moves on Charley that were her own – techniques that ‘felt right’, that Charley clearly adored and, most importantly, had built Charley’s muscles back again. Intuition. 

But it is the positivity in Beverly Ann’s attitude toward Charley which is the biggest change. After our first visit, Beverly Ann wrote “I think people can be a bit sceptical. I wasn’t but I was desperate to try anything and I’m so glad I did! I know the arthritis won’t ever go but we can make it more liveable. When we went for our walk, I felt far more relaxed with him, and not worrying so much. I’m sure he felt that too. The relief I feel is huge. And yes - my worry face has been replaced by a big grin xx” 

“Massaging Charley like this, has given us an even deeper connection. When I massage his bad legs, he looks at me with such deep trust, knowing that I won’t hurt him. I thought Charley and I had the most amazing relationship before. Now there is something even more between us.” 

Four months later and she said “It’s about us. It’s so easy to come in the door, say hello, give your dog a fuss but then carry on with doing the things that have to be done. And then you can find that you have forgotten to spend time with your dog or that time has simply disappeared. With massage, I make sure that Charley and me ALWAYS spend 30 minutes together every day. This is his and my time and nothing gets in the way of it”. 

Enrichment activities don’t have to be about getting your dog out and moving. Equally enriching is spending quiet time with your dog, giving them a beneficial massage on the bed. 

#bemoreCharleyandMum #enrichment=quiettime

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Shedding fur - good thing or not?

“Don’t wear black” Roxy’s Mum said when we confirmed our second visit. 

Last time I worked with Roxy, she shed fur. A lot of fur. And she is a Yellow Labrador. As a result, I looked like Chewbacca by the end of that session and her Mum’s vacuum cleaner probably seized up. 

When we work with dogs, shedding fur is one of the ways we can tell that we’re having an effect and doing some good. Imagine if you’re going round with skin that is sticking to you due to anxiety or discomfort. That’s got to be uncomfortable. Manual therapy not only works on the joints and muscles but also on the fur – that’s what our fingers are passing through all the time. Myofascial release techniques assist with this fur lifting. And when you create space between the fur and underlying structures, blood and other nutrients can start to move freely through the body again. Result = looser, softer and more healthy fur. 

I once worked with a very VERY anxious Chihuahua who simply ‘couldn’t be touched’. Well…. guess what, not only did she adore her session ‘being touched’ (in a therapeutic way) with me, but, by the end, we had a pile of Chihuahua fur that could easily have made another dog. Over the months of treating that dog, the fur shedding became less and less as her body became more fluid, softer and supple. The blood and nutrients could move through at last. Also, her anxiety decreased and approachability increased accordingly. 

The same happened this time with Roxy. OK, there was a pile of fur on the floor but it was just a small pile. And my black jeans (I know…..should have worn a different colour!) didn’t look quite so much like I was auditioning for a Pantomime Bear. 

Roxy’s Mum has been doing some homework with her, particularly warming-up her hips and thighs before exercise. Roxy’s insecurities about being massaged have vastly diminished. 30 minutes with no getting up and down. Mind you, despite it being the hottest day of the year so far, Roxy decided she wanted her massage in the sun. And, you’ll remember I was wearing black…when will I listen? As we were both cooking, she did move into the shade for a while but decided that being microwaved was preferable and shifted back into the sun. 

She felt better all over – neck softer, fascial movement possible and muscle tone improved. AND less fur shed. That’s a great result for her, her Mum and for the vacuum cleaner. 


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Listen to Your Dog

Jack’s Mum calls him Magical Jack (well, that’s one of the names he is known by) but I think he should be Lucky Jack. 

I first visited Senior Boy Jack in November last year when his Mum gave me a list of the supplements and food he is on. Each is carefully researched with the other leading to a tailored balanced food intake – things like golden paste, ground egg shell, bone broth, fresh fruit, veg and meat. Jack is very well looked after naturally but he is also on pharmaceuticals to take care of any underlying discomfort. 

After the first session with me, his Mum, Sue, took on board everything we did. Jack is an ‘as and when’ boy regarding his manual therapy. He has a session as he needs it and when he asks for it. He is still reluctant to offer his rear end for therapy but with careful muscle melting, Sue is able to work just where he needs it. Sometimes she has to start a session with general stroking which can then lead to more intentional massage – which is exactly what we have to do occasionally. 

6 months along in his therapy programme and Jack is now stretching more, especially with his rear end. He is still a plodder but he is a happy plodder. His exercise regime is controlled by him. His Mum said that they typically have about 30 minutes outdoors walking a day but that “varies by how stiff he is. If he is stiff, we mess about indoors”. Such a sensible attitude to listen to your dog. 

Knowing that his outdoors exercise might become shorter, Sue is bringing the outdoors in. She has planted a sensory garden for him. Lots of herbs and flowers with strong smells so he can go outside and sniff and explore to his heart’s content. He can still have his sensory enrichment without having to walk round the parks and streets to catch up on his pee mail. 

With his nutrition and medicinal needs carefully controlled, his exercise needs listened to, his sensory needs now growing in the back garden plus his ‘as and when’ manual therapy, Magical Jack is really a Lucky Jack.