Integrating PetMassageTM with veterinary care

We are so different and so alike

Listening to myself describe how PetMassage integrates with veterinary medicine at the AHVMA (American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association) conference I heard myself offer a perspective I hadn’t previously considered. Besides providing a way for dogs to relax and find their visit to the vet enjoyable, which are two good reasons right there, there are other big values and advantages to integrating PetMassage and veterinary medicine. That is, we are two distinctly separate and complementary ways of approaching health and wellness. And, we have distinctly separate yet fundamentally complementary scopes of practice. Aligning the two fills in what is missing in each.

The vet’s goal is to discover what’s wrong and fix it. And that’s good. That’s where the veterinarian’s and vet tech’s attention and intentions in a clinical setting need to be focused. 

What if there were a method of addressing and influencing what cannot be palpated; what cannot be observed, what cannot be read in x-rays, found in cultures and revealed in lab tests? What if there were a method to access and rebalance the deeply hidden source causes for a dog’s disease and discomfort? What if there was a way to indirectly, yet effectively address compensatory stressors? Would you incorporate such a methodology into your practice?

In most of the states in the US, legally, in the practice of PetMassageTM, we cannot diagnose. We also are forbidden, unless under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, to directly treat. This gives us tremendous freedom.

In PetMassageTM we make our body-mind connections with the dog body, hands-on. After warming the tissues with traditional massage techniques, we observe how his body responds. As we support him in his journey our focus is on how he is moving to reestablish wellness. He shifts and processes. As his body and our hands and hearts interplay, every part of his body and mind are engaged, honored, validated and encouraged. The body takes over; but, would not be able to make this journey without our presence and guidance. We experience everything together. In the process his body’s wisdom is tapped.

This is real

This is not just magical thinking. This has nothing to do with the placebo effect. We see, we feel the body rediscover its right way to function. Restrictions resolve themselves. Twists and turns held deep to the fascia relax, allowing for greater flow. Yawns, farts, stretches, twitches, smiles and wags are clear demonstrations that the dog is moving with greater ease. Functional balance. Happier, healthier quality of life. 

This is the element that’s missing in the linear, double-blind tested, scientific model. With PetMassage your protocol is taking the time to touch, listen and allow the sweet stream of patience, harmony, and grace. 

Come together, right now, over me

Functioning together, scientifically modeled veterinary medicine and PetMassage co-discover many more opportunities for self correction than either could by themselves. Together we can engage with the seen and the invisible, the felt and the unexpressed, and resolve the effects of stressors in the past, the formative present, and the possible future. 

Holding Intention

The PetMassageTM intention is not the same as in the veterinary model. It is diffuse. Non-linear. Rather than thinking about what is wrong and ways to fix it, PetMassageTM practitioners scan and follow what is energetically working and moving toward rightening. This is how PetMassage is able to help optimize dogs’ primal drives toward homeostasis, balance and harmony. 

I do not suggest that PetMassageTM is not focused and serious work. It is both. Think of PetMassage as “other focused.” The PetMassageTMintention purposefully does not layer negative behaviors (pathologies) with intense attention. The holding of the “balance” intention moves the whole of the dog toward balance. PetMassageTM practitioners observe and follow the patterns and movement within the fascia. 

Every coin has two sides

PetMassageTM, then, is medicinal. It is the other side of medical work. It is the soft side. It is the hands-on, intuitive perspective that provides dimension, weight and volume to the medical construct. PetMassageTMis love work. PetMassageTM is grief work. This is the work that is so needed in training, wellness maintenance, and rehabilitation. 

For practitioners, patients, and their people, the PetMassage component is powerful, meaningful, joyful, and rewarding work. PetMassageTM is righteous: medically, therapeutically, and socially. It is the physical energy work. 

Vets offer massage

How, you ask, can a veterinarian in a busy practice find the time to quiet the chaos, dim the lights, and sink into blissful meditation with a client dog? First, a dark quiet environment is not necessary. I create a bubble of privacy with dogs in the middle of bright, noisy, crowded dog shows. When I am on purpose and doing what I love, when I put my hands on a dog, the world around me fades away. 

You just have to learn to shift your gears from fixing to following. When the objective becomes the distraction, soften your breathing. Soften your vision. Drop your shoulders and simply “be” with the dog. Attend a PetMassage Foundation Level workshop, and you’ll learn how to do it. 

Timing is everything

I’ve heard the objection that there isn’t enough time to give a full body PetMassageTM. A thirty-minute session is not necessary. Once you have created the connection, your PetMassageTM can be modified to be completed in ten minutes. Most of my sessions are complete at around 20 minutes. Some take longer, some are shorter. At the conference (see the first paragraph) a tiny 3-week old boxer named Porsche was brought to my booth. Porsche was the only survivor of her litter. She has a cleft palate and hydrocephalus, an enlarged skull due to excess water on the brain. My session with her lasted less than a minute and in that time I was able to provide her everything I felt she needed. Any more would have been too much for the little critter.

Porsche’s Minute PetMassage

Training for RVTs

Another popular option, if you want to provide PetMassageTM in a veterinary practice, is to send your technicians to be trained in PetMassageTM workshops. PetMassageTM Foundation Level workshop curriculum are modified based on student’s levels of experience. DVMs and RVTs take only the 5-day hands-on workshop. Animal care professionals do not take the home-study courses in Basic Canine Anatomy and Creating and Marketing a Canine Massage Business. 

Yin needs yang

A yin without a yang is meaningless. Both are essential to have a complete model. Both are essential for Holism. There is no hot unless there is a cool to gauge it against. No inside unless there is an outside. No up without a down. No dry without moist. Both require the other in order to exist, and have value. My observation is: Every veterinarian, who provides a full and complete set of health and wellness services for their patients’ needs to include PetMassage.

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