The practice of PetMassageTM is based on the recognition that all physical, emotional, and behavioral dysfunctions are symptoms of imbalance.
Balance is what we want for the processes that make up the environment of the dog’s body and mind. The goal is for the dog to function easily and fully. Balance can be restored most effectively with the oldest and most intuitive modality in the history of health and wellness care: massage.
Massage helps increase circulation and flexibility for people. Everyone acknowledges that.
Massage helps people who are coping with cancer treatments feel more comfortable in their bodies and minds. Massage is the therapy that can help these distressed people revive self confidence, self image and self worth. The nurturing and honoring of the body they discover can only be found in hands-on, heart-directed massage.
PetMassageTM is massage for pets. Our focus is on dogs. Actually, all animals benefit. And let’s be clear: PetMassage is more than petting and definitely more profound and long-lasting that mere pampering.
PetMassageTM and touch are basic needs … as important for dogs’ quality of life as quality food, exercise, grooming and veterinary care. In fact, in many veterinary clinics, PetMassageTM is now an integral part of both wellness and rehabilitation protocols.
Dogs of all breeds, sizes, ages, and conditions benefit with PetMassageTM.
That is a pretty broad assertion. What are some of the imbalances that your dogs may present that would be resolved with a PetMassage?
Let’s look at four general categories of dogs, and discover the specific benefits that address their particular needs. Theses are active dogs, inactive dogs, indoor dogs, dogs nearing the end of life.
For active dogs, which include hunting dogs, competition dogs (agility, flyball, dock divers, and such working dogs as police, military, border control, guard dogs, and many farm dogs. Also include service dogs, therapy dogs, and kid’s best playmates. This group includes my dogs. Our boxers, Camille and Lola get a couple of (occasionally brisk) walks every day and lots of backyard squirrel, rabbit, and bird chasing.
The active dogs are movers and shakers. Their lungs are strong. So are their bones, muscles, and spirits. They have jobs to do and they are eager to perform them to the best of their ability. Dogs are very aware of their level of performance. An older dog that had been active and who can no longer function at his/her anticipated quality of movement will present with obvious depression. We saw that during the last workshop with boxer teaching assistant, Lola Ginabrigita, who turns 9 in August. When she attempted to jump up onto a 3 foot high massage table as she had consistently and easily done in the past, she hit the side of the table mid chest and flailed backward into my arms. After I’d assisted her onto the table she stood, steadying herself, head and tail drooped, sad and embarrassed. Her demeanor shifted toward the dark side. She was obviously trying to figure out the ramifications of what just occurred.
When working muscles work they often create tiny muscle tears. These need time and a supportive internal environment to heal. Repetitive movements, such as running weave poles, jumping from side to side, herding at full speed, nose inches above the ground, and twisting while landing jumps, create strains on tissues. Even running in a straight line over even terrain causes these little tears. The fascia sheathes around muscles stretch and relax, stretch more and relax; stretch more, and as they do, partially fray. Our dogs cannot feel the microscopic injuries; they are in the tiny muscle fibrils, deep within the gasters, the bellies of muscles.
PetMassageTM for active dogs.
- Benefits overworked and compensating muscles.
- Increases strength, endurance, and conditioning.
- Encourages balance in the way dogs use their bodies.
The inactive dogs include the canine couch potatoes of the world. Their primary exercise is moving from sleeping spot to sleeping spot. Add to that, the occasional diversion to their food bowls or quick trips outdoors to take care of business. Their pet parents seldom if ever take these dogs for exercise.
Dogs have immune systems similar to ours. Immune systems are dependent on the movement of lymphatic fluid. Lymph fights disease, repairs the little tears mentioned above, and creates a feeling of well being. Much of the lymph is moved through the body by shifts in internal pressure within the skeletal muscles. Consider that all of your dog’s major lymph nodes are in his big joints nestled up against large muscles. Watch the large muscle movement of the jaw when your dog chews and barks, of the shoulder when he walks or plays with toys, the hip and groin with movement of the hind end, and the stifles (knees) when the hind legs bend. The largest lymph node is the spleen, which is massaged by the big muscle fused or breathing, the diaphragm. With increased lymphatic movement, dogs immune systems are stimulated and enhanced. Dogs feel better in body, mind and spirit. Reflect, if you will, on the euphoric high you feel when you exercise. That’s your lymph saying “thank you.” For inactive dogs PetMassageTM
- Stimulates lymph drainage.
- Benefits their skin, coat, and muscle tone.
- Enhances quality of joint movement.
For indoor dogs who spend minimal time outside in the fresh air, there are additional issues. Think of the dogs with elder or incapacitated or unaware parents, who seldom leave their homes. They live close to the ground, where dust, indoor pollutants such as degassing carpets, air freshener residue, and microscopic critters that you really do not want to think about abide. All this is inhaled by the indoor dogs and clings to the surfaces of their lungs. These dogs get no exercise and become shallow breathers. Without movement and exercise that would induce deep breathing, this internal crud (technical term) cannot get pushed out. The TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) term for this is phlegm.
The big benefits that PetMassageTM provides indoor dogs are
- Increases their rate depth of respiration.
- Increases their flexibility and blood circulation.
- Enhances their body awareness.
- Enhances their bonding and socialization.
End of Life Care is a topic that is the giant mastiff in the room. The fact is, these marvelous creatures have short life-spans. A lot briefer than ours. Often, when our dogs are nearing the end of their trails; pet parents feel helpless and vulnerable. No one wants to accept that their beloved dog is dying. We are told to comfort the dog and wait for them to give us “the sign” that they are ready.
Scheduling a PetMassageTM at this time as part of your dog’s end of life care is a way for you to be proactive with your dog’s progressing situation. It is also a way for you to be proactive with your evolving relationship with your dog. It is also a time for you to consider your questions, concerns and beliefs with regard to your own mortality. In my book, “Transitions, Energy Work for the Aging and Dying Do.” I included a vignette about my mother’s reaction when we lost our dog Pepper when I was a teenager. When my mothers parents died, she assumed the role as the pillar of strength of our family and she didn’t cry. Same, with her brother and several friends. When Pepper died, his loss was cathartic. All the grieving she’d repressed was released. With Pepper, she threw herself on the bed and wept for days.
The are profoundly impactful benefits of PetMassageTM Transitions, or End of Life Care
- While your dog may be accepting of his fate, he/she still needs reassurance and nurturing that Transitions PetMassage can provide.
- Dogs also have the need to know that their people are going to be alright. PetMassageTM End of Life Care is a beautiful and fulfilling service, as much for the pet parent as it is for the dog.