Tuesday, 30 June 2020


It’s a very special moment when the dog you’re working with gives you their total trust. You can feel it. It might be physical where they relax and slump into your arms. Or it could be a glance up at you with soft eyes that are no longer showing discomfort. Or a sighing snore. Whichever way they show it, it is always special. 

Staffie Pixie loves playing with her new adopted brother Bobi. But he’s bigger than her, 9 years younger and a lot clumsier. Regardless of all that, they have great fun together. Except when their play became over exuberant resulting in Pixie hurting her back. 

She was taken straight to the vet who gave her some anti-inflammatories to ease the discomfort. We visited her about a week later armed with all our Achy Tools – the PEMF mat, the Red Light phototherapy machine and Chris, our Reiki practitioner and back work specialist. 

She was, understandably, a little reluctant at first but with calming Reiki and gentle touch she eased her way into the session. As she was sitting in Chris’s lap, we had the PEMF mat snuggled into her back at the same time. This meant she was being treated from all sides – Reiki, massage and pulsed frequencies. That’s a great cooking recipe. 

She made lots of “I quite like this” noises but also had the Staffie “I’m not going to give in” attitude. Until she did. And gave that Trust Look. She turned round, looked up at Chris with huge Staffie eyes and that was it. She was clearly feeling relieved. 

Special – very special 

Monday, 29 June 2020


Hector is almost 13 now and a big Staffie. He was rescued a few years ago and his new Mum found he had intermittent lameness due to arthritis, calling me in to help from the start of his new life. 

Over the time I have worked with him, his personality has changed to being quite shy to a bundle of Big Bouncy Staffiness. He smiles, he plays, he rolls around showing me his ample tummy, he has a wander round the room and then settles. 

Hector is a classic example of the way we work with dogs - namely respecting their terms. The dog shouldn’t be forced to stay in one place because that is comfortable to the therapist. Hector may start on the massage mat and then move to his Mum’s feet or, more recently, up on his favourite chair. In fact, the latter is quite a good place to work with him as he fits exactly between the arms of the chair when he has a stretch – great for back work. 

On the last session, he was 100% a chair dog. 30 minutes one side then, without prompting, he turned around so I could work on the other side. He has a large magnificent Staffie head which suits cheek massage perfectly. And he LOVES that technique as the picture shows. 
During the session, his eyes went from wide, to dozy to sleepy. His smile grew bigger and his snores got louder (listen to the videos on the next post). 

Stabilising the jigsaw

I first met Corkie, his amazing Dad and the unique Corkie Stair Lift at the end of the year in 2017. Since then, we’ve met a couple of more times when his Dad organised some training sessions for other Mums and Dads over at St Leonards.

In 2017, Corkie had just been diagnosed with OA and his Dad wanted to know how he could help with this new issue. Physical therapy via massage and exercise, was a perfect fit for Corkie and his Dad started a routine of daily sessions with him. 

However, Corkie’s condition is degenerative as is his mobility. His Dad had become aware that the work he was doing with him probably needed a tweak to match these changes. Corkie is beginning to drag his hind leg a little, he is finding it harder to get up after a sit and is less likely to settle. 

The first thing to do is to have a pain medication review – which is what his Dad did and Corkie is now on Galliprant and Paracetamol. Both are helping but new things are needed to help stabilise his ongoing OA. 

Treating OA is rather like trying to find the pieces to build a jigsaw – you are adding items to make the whole more stable. Therapy is multi-faceted and adaptive to changing conditions. Corkie has the pain medication, now he has a new targetted massage routine, he is soon to have his first session of acupuncture from the wonderful Tim Couzens and will probably start hydrotherapy in the near future. 

All these pieces of the jigsaw will look after his discomfort, his energy levels, his cardiovascular and muscular fitness. 

At the end of this session, Corkie was certainly happier – he was wagging his tail (which he hadn’t done in a while) asking his Dad to collect his lift and carry him downstairs to the park. He fairly bounded across the road. 

Empowering the carer

Teeny Tiny Tyler has the heart of a giant dog. He was simply not sure about touch at all – except from his Mum so she did all the physical work on this session – and he loved it.

Tyler is an 11 year old Yorkshire Terrier / Dachshund cross. Despite his seniority, he has a puppy’s mind. Last year, he suddenly couldn’t stand and became immobile. 

His vets immediately referred him to a specialist practice where he was treated for an Intervertebral Disc Extrusion between T12 to T13. His progress had been coming along fine but stalled. His family asked me over to help restart his rehabilitation. 

As Tyler was not willing to be touched, we started with a few exercise tips – to gently help ease his tight spinal muscles which were causing him to stand hunched. Other exercises were done to help restore his balance and sensory perception. When he runs at the moment, he does tend to veer sideways preferring not to use his right rear as much as the left. 

It was then time for Mum to take over. She adopted his favourite position – in the chair beside her – and started to intentionally feel what he felt like. How tight his muscles were, how developed and balanced they were – things she could use as indictors to monitor his progress in the next few weeks. 

We knew that he would be her biggest critic, but we needn’t have worried. He LOVED his front end massage. His little eyes went very gooey very quickly. Not so sure with his back end but with slow and deliberate touch, he allowed Mum to so whatever she wanted. And, equally importantly, whatever he needed. 

He also knew when he had enough, getting off Mum and going back to his bed. 

He did come out to try and chase my feet at the end but we managed to turn that into an exercise too.

Chasing my feet seemed to take his mind off his right rear leg issues and he managed to move across the room with a very orderly gait. 

Hopefully, with all this new knowledge, Tyler’s rehabilitation will restart and he will back to his balanced running around soon.