Golden Retriever Moves Slowly and Limps, Then Gets PetMassage™

Luke Skywalker, healthy, active, eight year old Golden Retriever. Complaint: moves slowly and limps.

Luke Skywalker was limping and his owner had taken him to her vet to see if he had broken or torn anything that would cause this unusual behavior. Veterinary palpation and x-rays found no reason for it. Luke checked out medically okay, and she called PetMassage™. She had seen the big PetMassage™ sign with its logo as she drove by our clinic/school. Hopefully massage could help her dear loving dog.

She called late on a Monday afternoon and Anastasia happened to be at the school finishing up the day’s paperwork. Jonathan had an opening the following day, and the owner was thrilled.

Luke Gets His PetMassage™.

In taking his history, I learned that he had been playing with a big dog at day care. One time, she told me, Luke was “knocked onto his side.” But he continued playing and appeared to be okay.

I begin each PetMassage™ with a walk. It is a time for the dog and I to assess each other and experience each others energy. During our initial walk, Luke Skywalker was apprehensive. At the walk he appeared stiff and in some discomfort. He was even more stressed, at the trot. When we were moving away from his owner, he had to be pulled. When moving back toward her, he had to be restrained. He just wanted to be close to his pet parent. That’s understandable and expected. His owner is his safe place.

I needed to walk with him for several minutes before he acknowledged me and accepted me into his world. When he gave me the sign that he was ready, I lifted him onto the massage table and we spent several more minutes getting him to be comfortable in this new environment. It is strange to be three feet off the ground and limited to a 24 X 48 inch platform. Eventually, he calmed so we could move into the introductory palpation phase of the PetMassage™.

At first, nothing untoward drew my attention. I slowed my strokes and allowed my hands to pause to linger over various areas of his body. I discovered a large warm area over his lower ribs.

I placed my hand on the warm area on his right side over T-9-12. My hand sank slowly into the tissues. I felt the warm contours of the ribs expanded into my palm. I closed my eyes; feeling my chest rise and fall with my breathing. Listening, waiting, and noticing. Releasing pressure, I raised my hand slightly from that depth, and palpated the fascia and layers of intercostal muscles. As I traced over them with my imagination, I felt my breath knocked out of me. I felt the trauma and understood what was going on in this dog’s body.

First there was the impact of being body slammed and knocked off my feet. It was confusing, though. It felt as if it came without warning, like I’d been looking at something else and from out of nowhere, bam-someone runs over me. It was like being sideswiped by an unseen, speeding car. Ooph! I felt my ribs crunch as I hit the ground. When I got up, I was a little unsteady. Even though I was in shock, I kept playing with the other dogs. But, when I got home, that’s when my body remembered. My sides ached. My sides began tightening up. It hurt when I breathed. It hurt when I moved. It was easier to get up and walk when I moved slower. The pain was a little more manageable when I limped.

And then, as I returned from my spontaneous reverie, I noticed that the area where my hand had been was no longer burning with heat. It had normalized. So had my breathing. Luke Skywalker smiled up at me and gave me that Golden Retriever look of appreciation. We continued with our PetMassage™, and I addressed any other areas of warmth that drew my attention.

When I placed him back on the ground, Luke Skywalker breathed easier. He moved easier. There was greater flexibility in his spine. Then he did something that he hadn’t done before the session: he wagged his tail. His pet parent was elated! Luke had not wagged his tail since that afternoon at the day care.

She immediately scheduled another session for him. This morning Luke had his third PetMassage™. He improves with each session. His gait and demeanor, better after his first massage; and after his third, he is practically giddy: bouncing around like a puppy.

Naming the problem, takes away its power.

I supported Luke’s experience. Using a PetMassage™ variation of Healing Touch, I was able to draw out some of the residual energy of the trauma. In the process, we identified what was confusing him, the source of the impact, and the context of what happened. We recognized how Luke’s body has been coping and compensating. His PetMassage™ is helping him regain balance and comfort in his life. As a wonderful side note, his pet parent is absolutely thrilled at his progress.


  1. Vicki on April 19, 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Your messages are always of interest and so in depth. Thanks for taking the time to do a newsletter.

  2. Jonathan Rudinger on May 7, 2017 at 6:58 PM

    You are welcome. I hope that I’m showing that I am always in process of discovery. My intention is to encourage practitioners to appreciate what they and their dogs have to share.

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