Massaging dogs at the Humane Society “Bark in the Park” event.

Massaging dogs at the Humane Society “Bark in the Park” event.

The above picture was pulled from this video.

Last weekend the PetMassage School had a booth at a “Bark in the Park” summer fundraiser/ 5K race-walk for the Toledo Area Humane Society. The event was held in a grassy field adjacent to an outdoor mall. The field was busy and crowded. There were hundreds of dogs and their people. Many of the dogs brought their entire human pack.

We were one of dozens of vendors. There were activities for the dogs, obstacles to climb, tail wagging contests, soaking pools, treats everywhere and lots of other dogs. There were games for the kids, raffles, and lots of enthusiastic volunteers wearing bright green t-shirts. The weather that morning was spectacular. Random puffs of clouds drifted under bright blue skies and we were occasionally graced with just a hint of breeze.

Anastasia and I set up our tent with the PetMassage Training and Research Institute signage and a massage table. While we were setting up, the line began forming of people wanting to get mini-massages for their dogs at $1/minute. In the 2 1/2 hours we were there, I massaged more than a dozen dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, young dogs, old dogs. The booth next to us had a large wading tub; so we had another variation: dry dogs and dogs with wet paws.

The challenge for the dogs was processing all the distractions around them. The crowds, the other dogs, the pools, the movement, the cumulative energy, the ear-splitting loudspeakers with non-stop music and even louder announcements. Everything tugged at the dogs’ senses for attention. They could smell the treats from the pet food vendors, aromas from the food trucks, the grass, the humans, the Porto-potties, the markings of other dogs. Party!!!

Most of the canine massage sessions were 5 minutes long. In that time I wanted to demonstrate how valuable massage is to the dogs’ people and for the dogs, provide a quick, quality experience.

I didn’t have time to walk each dog to observe gait and demeanor. It was such a blurred rush, I didn’t even ask if there were specific issues they wanted me to address. My assessments needed to be intuitive and spontaneous; and, in the rapture of the moment, they were. My hands were instinctively drawn to the exact areas they needed to go. Time and time again amazed pet parents asked, “How did you know to massage there? That’s where he/she was injured/had a problem/had surgery/was weak or compromised.”

My sensory gates were open. My stream of awareness, flowing. Every dog shipped their oars, dipped their paws into their stream of life force, and observed the ripples as they drifted along. It was a canine massage portage party!!!

A boxer’s fascia had a threadiness along one side of his spine, that firmed. A tripod dog had muscles along the scapula that were bunched up from a lifetime of compensation, that softened. He’ d been injured in an auto accident when he was a puppy and one of his hind limbs had to be amputated. A little Shiba had an unusual hair pattern down the back of one of his forelegs, that fell back into balance.

There was a sweet Bernese Mountain Dog who as soon as we started, eased into spontaneous stillness. He stood, head down, savoring each and every touch. He was massive. It took two of us to hoist him onto the table.

A yellow lab made the whole crowd of onlookers laugh. After being assisted back onto the ground after her session, she kept jumping back up onto the table for more, more, more.

One memorable dog was the little tan puppy who was so distracted he reminded me of myself when I was little and taken to the circus (to enjoy-not drop off). Between all the distractions, in discreet moments, he paused, stared straight ahead, and accepted our shared connection. Something or someone moved and our connection splintered. His attention was diverted and he watched or smelled or thought about whatever had drawn him in. I could feel his energy coming and going in my hands. Leaving, pausing, considering, returning, connecting, and flitting away. I cannot judge. He had the attention span of a butterfly; and I went with him.

Ah, these shared moments in his young life were precious. With massage, I was able to facilitate him to get the most value of these moments. Together, we planted seeds. Created memories. The tiny course corrections he made in these moments will influence the rest of his life.

There, in the Bark in the Park, the puppy discovered catches of moments beyond time and space. Presence and stillness. Exquisite clarity. I felt it. His people felt it. And so did all the people around, watching and happily witnessing for him.

I encourage you to participate in your local dog events. Be a vendor. It’s always a rewarding experience for you, for dogs, and for their people. The only way people are going to recognize the value and accessibility of PetMassage is for you to show them. Put yourself out there and tell them, show them, and extoll the benefits. Support your local community. Give your community the opportunity to support you.

Want more ideas for marketing your canine massage business? Here’s the link [ ] to the book, “Creating and Marketing Your Canine Massage Business”

Leave a Reply