Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Help to make every day a good day

We all have our good days and our bad days – sometimes that’s due to work, or the weather or our aches and pains. Most dogs don’t really know about going to work – unless it is which bed or sofa to choose. Most dogs don’t really mind too much about the weather – as long as they get a good warm rub down after. But they certainly do have good and bad days with their aches. 

Over the 7+ years of AchyPaw, we’ve found that dogs tend to benefit more when they have maintenance sessions. This will keep them on an even keel rather than ups and downs and being called out to ‘fix’ things. 

Our Sam & Sarah are 13 and a half now and they certainly have those sorts of days. We have dawdling days and we have “Look at me Dad, I can still chase that seagull” days (from Mr Sam anyway, Sarah would never condescend to chase – she’s far too much of a madam). 

By having regular therapies – some daily, some weekly, some monthly - we aim to even things out. We’ve got them on a good multifaceted therapy mix – hydrotherapy, acupuncture, laser, supplements, medication, diet – with massage being the glue that keeps it all together. 

OK, Sam & Sarah get manual therapy daily. Yours could too, with a tailored lesson from us. But the professional maintenance top-ups can be anything from weekly, to 6 monthly or even yearly like Sherlock. There is no prescription, each dog is different and so is their treatment plan. 

Give us a call if you’d like to know more either about our maintenance programmes or learning how to help your own dog. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

It’s all about the intention.

Lexi is a 6 year old Portuguese Podengo cross with long legs rescued by Karen from Helping Paws and has been living for the past 3 years in her Forever Home with her new Mum and Dad. 

She has never really been completely settled with her Dad indoors. She doesn’t bark or cower, she just prefers to move away. This behaviour is not as bad when outdoors, but even then, she seems to prefer her Mum. It’s not just her Dad though, she reacts in a similar way with other men. They don’t think she was mistreated before rescue but believe she lived on her own with an elderly lady – maybe not getting much socialisation. She was certainly housetrained although she didn’t know how to play with toys. (That has now been rectified as she has a vast toybox full of things!) 

Overall, she is simply timid. She will accept a hand touch, stroke and may even lick the back of her Dad’s leg in a cafĂ©. Just not a lot. 

The aim for the session was to try and create a better bond between Lexi and her Dad by intentional touch. AchyPaw Massage is all about intention. You need the dog to know that they are your focus. It’s not petting. It’s intentional. It’s beneficial. It has a purpose. 

We don’t force therapy on any dog – they come at their own speed. At the start of the session, Lexi was upstairs, so I sat on floor by the massage mat while her Mum brought her down. She soon sat on the mat, with her back to me. But close enough to let me gently touch her. As I was working, she didn’t move away but just glanced at me over her shoulder making sure I was an OK person. She even let me perform some massage. Guess I was Ok! 

I spent 15 minutes with her helping her feel comfortable. I then asked her Dad to take my place on the floor. I told him to feel rather than pet. We held our breath. Lexi did not resist or move away. After 10 minutes, we all had to breathe again as we were going rather blue from lack of oxygen! 

That was Lexi’s cue to get up on the sofa. I asked her Dad if that was what he expected to get out of the training session. He replied ”Yes but not within 30 minutes…….”. There were lots of smiles. 

As we were on a roll, I got him to shuffle over to her where she allowed him to perform a full one side body massage. Lots more smiles – even from Lexi this time whose head was slowly slumping down as she relaxed. 

Her Dad stayed on the floor while her Mum took over as we wanted Lexi to feel she could go to either carer. Again, no protestations from Lexi – just a ‘bring it on’ look. After an hour, we got her Dad to stand up (many creaking joint noises from us as we had hardly dared move a muscle), walk away and then come back. This would typically have been Lexi’s signal to go. But she didn’t. She stayed on the sofa and let him put his hands back on her and she relaxed her head even further. He said “She has never felt this relaxed with me touching her”. We say it all the time….intention….intention….intention. Lexi was now being touched with a purpose, with benefits. Petting your dog is fine, they will enjoy it. But if you touch them AND help their tight muscles to relax, how much more enjoyable will that be to the dog? 

I think we have won Lexi around to her Dad touching her and hopefully that bond will strengthen with every massage session.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Homework and caregiver involvement

When set from school or colleges, homework could be a chore. But as an ex-academic now, I try to make the homework that we set our dog carers, more fun, informative and useful. 

As well as treating the dogs we work with, we also treat the carers. Not physically (although some have come to Chris for a holistic massage session) but educationally. During a session, the carer is often so involved with watching how their dog responds to the physical therapy that they forget all the things we discovered and showed them about their dog. 

This is perfectly understandable. We make sure that a treatment session doesn’t end without ensuring that the carer has been made aware of where the aches and strains were on their dog, how to help them with massage and rehabilitation exercises and characteristics to monitor so they can monitor progress or change. 

To achieve this aim, every carer is sent a personalised and workbook for their own tailored homework. The workbook details : 
• Where the issues were on their dog 
• Massage techniques that could benefit each issue and area 
• How to perform those massage techniques (with explanation and pictures) 
• Pictures and explanation of any appropriate rehabilitation exercises 

The Mums and Dads who do their homework become far more aware of changes in their dog and describe these in terms of gait, ability and muscle tone. It always raises a smile when a carer says things like “Les…I think the right thigh muscle is far less tight now and my dog is standing straighter”. This means they have been watching their dog and paying attention rather than just walking them. 
Our homework seems to go down well and we frequently receive feedback about it : 

 “Many thanks for your email and our homework, we have started following the plan & think that he seems more relaxed & happy already!”

 “I want to add that Les sent me the most amazing run down of what I learnt explaining everything really well to help my terrible memory not to miss anything out! Super happy with this as it is really clear what to do now.”

 “We have exercises to do and detailed information on how to do the most good, which Les sent through pretty much immediately. We saw improvement in our dog’s walking after the session and following exercises believe this will make the difference he needs without pumping him full of drugs. If you are thinking myotherapy could be the way forward, we would 100% recommend and suggest Les at AchyPaw!” 

Hopefully with all this homework, the dogs we help will have a greater and extended quality of life with an informed Mum or Dad. Don’t underestimate caregiver involvement.


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

No reason...just because

Most therapists – canine and human – have a list of conditions on their webpage of issues which they believe would benefit from manual therapy. Classics things you’ll find listed include: slowing down, unsteady gait, limping, difficulty getting up, arthritis etc. 

While all these are perfectly valid, what do you do if your dog doesn’t show any of these signs? Will massage therapy still be beneficial? In our opinion, and it’s borne out by a lot of research, yes – most certainly. How many of you have had a massage just to maintain your present condition rather than to ‘fix’ something? 

Maintenance, top-ups, prevention, or ‘just because’ are good reasons to schedule a massage session for you or your dog. And please don’t think I’m talking about pampering. We don’t do ‘pampering’. We deliver professional experienced targetted therapy to make your dog feel and move easier. English 

Bulldog Ralph is an example of benefiting from regular physical therapy to keep him in the stunning condition he is. We’ve been treating him for 6 years now and he has always been fit - he has muscles on his muscles! And his regular massage helps to keep him that way. At 10 years old, his Mum and I want him to stay healthy, mobile and happy. 

After his session, he tends to sleep and snore while I work on his sister, Auntie Pearl. He lies there with a big soppy grin. He does wake up to give me a huge Ralph cuddle when I leave and frequently sits by the front door so I can’t get out. 

Do you need a problem or a mobility issue before you think of massage? No. You can come to us….just because. It will benefit your dog anyway. 


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Involving the family in therapy

13 year old Rosie received lots of good wishes when I first visited her and posted her story. At that time, when I was invited into her house she was sitting in the hall by the wall and had to be helped into the lounge for her therapy. Once there though, she was an “OMG…this is what I have been waiting for” dog. 

When I left, I had a feeling that her family would all get involved and rally round to help her as much as they could. 

And they have….so much. Rosie is a new dog. 

On this visit, she greeted me at the dog excitedly and wagging her broad tail. A different girl. Standing straighter with more confidence. More musculature evident. Bright eyes, attentive and enthusiastic. Her Mum said that she gets a massage daily (her personalised workbook was in a folder on the sofa by the toys). Now, when massage is over, she looks up at her Mum with a “Hmm…why have you stopped?” look. The youngsters in the family are involved too. Every treat she is given, she is made to give a nice long nose to tail stretch working on her spinal and core muscles. She plays with her tuggy toy which she hasn’t done in a long while. She is eager to walk and sometimes even asks to go round the block. And to complete the transformation, she is now confident to start getting on the bed (with some help) and the armchair in the living room. 

She decided to show me how she could get on the armchair – which is where she remained for the next hour’s therapy session. 

Her fur is so much softer now and she now has space under it. She is no longer wearing a coat two sizes too small. She still has her myofascial twitches. Touching the left side, causes the right rear leg to twitch and touching the right side, makes the left rear leg twitch. She knows it is annoying to her but was very tolerant as I eased the fascia. 

But she was happy, smiling, sighing and closing her eyes in delight. Such a transformation due to the consistent work done by her family every day. I look forward to seeing how much progress she makes in the future.