Monday, 26 August 2019

Helping a rescue dog

I’m scheduled for another volunteering session at Arundawn Dog Rescue in a few days. But I saw a recent post from Elaine about Bertie the 10 and a half year old Staffie who was sadly back in kennels at the time – although now is in a wonderful new foster home. 

When I looked at the videos, I felt sure that we could definitely help him – he clearly had issues which would benefit from a physical therapy session. I showed the video to Chris and he agreed. A phone call to Elaine, agreement from their vet and 36 hours later our back expert Chris was with Bertie and his new fosterers to offer a voluntary session. 

Initially Bertie’s coat was quite dull and his fur was very tight – you could see him struggle to get any fluidity in his movement. He was our classic “36 inch chest in a 32 inch coat” dog. This where the fur is so tight it is like you’ve put on your favourite coat after a rather over-indulged Christmas – the buttons pop. We can, at least, tug at our clothes to stretch them. A dog can’t do that – but we can help with plenty of myofascial release. 

Bertie was a dream to work with – all he wanted was attention and touch. As Chris was working with him, he was demonstrating the techniques with Bertie’s new fosterers. They both have monthly massages so fully understand the benefits and didn’t need any convincing that it would help Bertie. 

Chris also left a few suggestions about household adaptations to make things more Bertie Friendly such as following where he walks to see where he might need a carpet runner or two. We offered them support if needed and suggest follow up in a few weeks to check progress. 

At the end of the session, Chris had left behind a new dog who tried to stop him leaving and with a loose shiny coat that actually fitted him. It won’t take Bertie long to become another AchyPaw Massage Diva.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Making adaptations for a degenerative disease

Sarah’s back paws are starting to drag now and again which catches her rear legs and can cause a stumble. Although our house is already senior-proofed we took another look round at things we could change and adapt to help her even more. 

We have slopes and ramps and mini-steps EVERYWHERE. It means Sarah never has perilous steps or slippy laminate to judder and hurt her joints. 

But the slopes and ramps were made out of wood as were her steps up into the garden. I noticed her slip once on the mega-ramp through the garage to the front drive. 

So….time for Carpenter Chris to get adapting. Luckily, he is able to translate my suggestions of “We need an uppy bit there, with a slopey bit at the top and then a short downy part” into reality. He was an engineer in a previous life so that helps. 

The ramps now have carpet tiles glued to the top of the wood – soft, comfy, non-slippy carpet. The mega-ramp also has carpet tiles glued down but not just any old tiles – brightly coloured tiles so she can see them when the garage is gloomy. No more sliding down those. 

The mini-steps outside to the garden now have rubber sheets stapled to them so when they get wet, they will still be safe for unsure paws. 

And the awkward series of small mini steps we made (he made) up and out of the back door, is now replaced with a brand new mini-slope. Which she loves. No more hesitating to go outside because the steps that were there, although small, needed a bit of a “OK…1-2-3…here we go” preparation. 

We swear that the first time she went up her new comfy bright mega-slope from the car through the garage to the back door, she got to the top and looked back with a “Thanks Dad” look. #diva

 Keep your eyes open to think of ways you can continue to change and adapt your house to fit the changing mobility of your dog. Osteoarthritis is degenerative - a few appropriate adaptive tweaks to help manage this condition, can make all the difference. Spend a few minutes following your dog around your house looking for any new hesitations or slips.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Sherlock 3.0 - following a dog through the stages of their life

Sherlock 3.0 

Sherlock the Labrador is like one of your best friends who you only see once a year but carry on as though no time has passed. 

We had Sherlock 1.0 who was only a puppy then. His Mum and Grandmum travelled all the way from South London to learn a bonding massage routine with him. 

Then the next year we had Sherlock 2.0 who came to us to check out his growth and muscle development but also to teach his Mum some specific calming and relaxation massage. 

And this year we have Sherlock 3.0 who has unfortunately been diagnosed with mild hip dysplasia. His vet doesn’t think it warrants any surgical intervention at the moment but certainly adding some physical therapy will help. 

Sherlock is still a puppy and takes every opportunity that he thinks you’re off guard to sneak in a nose boop. He could look like he is fast asleep and then, ha…got you Uncle Les and Chris. 

His Mum is keeping him in amazing shape weight-wise. A Lean Lab. But he needs maintenance and management for his condition to help his rear leg muscles take up the extra support his hips will need. Already he is showing some signs of stiffness but all things that his very caring Mum can work with every day. She just needed some direction on how to help Sherlock 3.0. 

One thing we did learn about him is that he LOVES jaw massage. Eyes closed, silly grin, head leaning into the massage. A definite Go To spot for him. 

We went through some hip muscle building exercises as well to add to his daily routine. Sherlock and his Mum can spend a few minutes Them Time to help keep his thighs in top condition for the next stage of his adventure.