Last week I was massaging a sweet senior dog. I could not walk her during her PetMassage assessment because her hind legs kept crossing and getting tangled beneath her. She was unable to stand unassisted. Her eyes, still and dull, stared unfocusingly into space. Here and not here, she was Stuck in a dispirited, uninspiring fog.
This massage needed to be superb. My job was to guide her from the pall she was experiencing to comfort and clarity. No pressure.
I picked her up and positioned her on the massage table.
She lowered her chin to her paws, and began to relax. Her breathing pattern shifted; it was less labored. She was already beginning to process her massage. She is a regular client so she knows, and can anticipate, how much a massage will help her.
I rested my hands on her top line, one palm on her withers and the other on her lumbar spine. I touched the tip of my tongue to the roof of my mouth, closed my eyes, exhaled through my nose, and opened myself to my intuitive sources. Then I paused and waited for inspiration. Nothing.
I centered myself, adjusting my feet in my shoes until they felt solidly grounded, and observed my breath. My lungs filled and emptied. Filled and emptied. My chest rose and fell. Rose and fell. Still, nothing.
I was doing everything I could think of to open my awareness. I felt my pulse throb in my chest and temples. My heart beat was rapid. I could visualize my irises dilating and contracting with each beat. Then with intention, it slowed. Lub dub. Lub dub. Luuub duuub. Luuub duuub. Hello intuition. Anybody home?
I was trying too hard.
I was Bullwinkle expecting to pull a rabbit out of my hat for my little flying squirrel buddy. And I really didn’t know what to look for.
BTW, it was seldom a rabbit that came out. “Oops. Wrong hat.” Or, “I didn’t know my own strength.”
With patience, messages and directions do come. While I waited, I followed one of the beginner routines that beginner students learn in workshops. Everything in these canine massages serves to enhance the body’s circulation, flexibility, and proprioception.
I began with the vectoring to reintroduce our subliminal bodies. Then, using slow purposeful assessment strokes, I simply observed. Her coat was coarse, oily, and the skin beneath it, taut and non-responsive. No areas expressed as warmer or cooler. Her vitality was flat, flaccid. She had lost a lot of muscle mass so my fingers traced over the protruding contours of her skull, her spine, her pelvis and her hips. I felt her generalized stiffness and lethargy. I sensed her pervasive fatigue, despair, and apprehension. I felt emotionally depleted.
Witnessing is a powerful tool, and I knew that there was more that I could offer. As the observer, I was participating, but only partially. As my hand slid off her spine onto the tail, I felt the familiar PetMassage connection.
I grasped the upper tail, slightly squeezing its top 4 or 5 vertebra, and pulled them the 1/2 inch away from the buttocks into mild sustained traction. Here was the sign I’d been waiting for. My fingers pulsed.
I softened the tension, maintaining the tail’s position at the same height and angle. The tail-set tensed, softened, and sighed. A surge of energy flowed through my hands and into her hips and legs. I was an iDog charging station!
It was as if I were holding a hose, feeling the vibration of the water sputtering and gushing within it. Myofascial Positional Release. This was the theme, the motivation, and the essence of her massage as we reactivated all over her body.
When we were complete, I gently placed the dog on the floor. She shook, maintaining her balance. (That in itself was huge.) with bright eyes she looked around, and purposely strode off to investigate a hallway and the room where bipeds (people) get massage. Her focus was back. Her curiosity was back. Her steadiness at the walk was, while not perfect, demonstrably better.
Hey Rocky, did you see what we pulled out of this hat? Whatever it is, for this dog in this moment, it’s surely superb!
If you appreciate what you read here, please favor me by Sharing it and my other blogs with all your friends, groups, and networks. Help me spread the word. This is important work. Canine massage can enhance the lives of every dog, every dog’s owner, and every canine care provider. Especially at this moment, when the world craves beauty, promote the goodness, peace and love of canine massage. Thank you. -Jonathan