Hi. Right This Minute, How Are You?
I’m Here For You.
PetMassage™ is a method of spontaneous communication, a dialogue, in which both the practitioner and the dog strive together to create enhanced balance and function. It’s a type of “Call and response.“ Can I get an Amen?
During their PetMassage™ every dog expresses themselves in their own way. Some dogs stand quietly accepting touch. Some snooze. Some remain alert to everything going on around them. Others, spin and dance for the entire session.
Each dog is unique. Each has a well defined personality and style of processing their bodywork.
Each has their own set of needs. It might be fatigue, pain, fear, or lack of mobility. It might be for rehabilitation. It might be wellness maintenance. It might be part of conditioning for competition. It might be Karmic.
Restricting yourself to a predetermined program makes your connection stiff and contrived. How can you have a spontaneous conversation when your lines are scripted and the dog’s lines are not? Standardization, orthodoxy of form, gets in the way of the intention of massage.
PetMassage™ Practitioners tap into the same goals as they would in Eastern meditation. We must learn self awareness and self control. Self awareness, to pay attention to our breathing, respiration, pulse, posture, thoughts, and notice our bodies intuitive responses. Self control, to restrain ourselves from doing everything we know rather than applying the one best method. If the dog cannot find the exact “words” in their vocabulary, we can look to ours to discover what they want.
An effective and nurturing PetMassage™ is spontaneous. Responsive. Join your dog in their moment. Stay there with them and help them process what they can…to enhance their balance and function.
The PetMassage™ process is giving the massage, not massaging. It’s bodywork WITH the dog rather than ON the dog.
Together, we can make a difference.
Here’s our most recent video lesson on YouTube: Massage for Dogs who get Spring and Summer Allergies.
A runny nose can be a big deal for a dog. Dogs have 220 million smell receptors in their noses compared to our 5 million. It is not in our Scope of Practice to treat concerns- massage can establish an environment where the dog’s body can treat itself.
Face work: work on the facial landmarks. Sinuses. The sinuses are air-filled bony cavities in the skull that connect with the nasal cavities. expressing sinuses around nostrils, ears, eyes BL-1, top of head (Sagittal suture line) under jaw ( submandibular) for balance-digestion-breathing-sniffing-hearing-thinking-playing, transitioning from indoors to outside. Enhance the Quality of life of your dog with PetMassage.
Runny Nose, Dog, Allergies, Scope of Practice, Internal Environment, self Treating, Face, Bony Landmarks, Sinuses, Lymph, TCM, Bladder 1, Fascia, Myofascial Release
WaterWork is PetMassage Canine Aquatic Massage
This Helpful Hint blog is based on this YouTube video. Its intention is to describe canine aquatic massage and encourage you to learn and practice it.
Canine aquatic massage is a fabulous variation of the dry PetMassage. Sessions are given in a heated (usually indoor) swimming pool. They both have the intention of creating balance, enhancing respiration and circulation, and increasing strength, flexibility, and comfort during movement. Massage in water has special advantages. The key is the warm water. It is a non-weight-bearing, non-temperature shocking, experience. Movement does not stress the joints; it increases flexibility in the joints.
So which dogs would benefit from a warm, wet, non-weight bearing bodywork experience?
- Athlete dogs, in training or recovering from injuries
- Dogs recovering from surgeries; in the water they can move past their fear of pain.
- Older dogs with arthritis and joint issues
- Obese dogs whose every breath and movement is restricted and labored
The canine aquatic massage that we teach is very different from the dry massage that we teach and the physical therapy style of massage that is learned in vet schools. And, while it is a water therapy, it is very different from the therapeutic use of underwater treadmills. It is not swimming. It is not water play, like repetitive retrieval of tossed water toys.
WaterWork™ is its own thing.
It has its own unique set of agendas with specific intentions, skills, and training.
In our workshops, we set a couple of goals. First is to create an experience for the dog that is safe. These dogs could be in pain, immobile, incontinent, unsteady, confused, unable to perform their ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), and unable to socialize with other dogs. They are in a state of trauma because of their current life conditions. We don’t want to add to the stress tsubo (vortex) they are already experiencing. So as they are first introduced to the water we are considerate of their fragile emotional states. Once the dogs become comfortable in the process, it’s a good time for them. It’s an amazing time for us practitioners.
We continue our monitoring of their sense of surety and safeness throughout their sessions. The dogs must feel safe enough to relax and allow; which can only happen when practitioners use safe and correct body mechanics. Before students begin working with dogs, they master water movement exercises. Sound footing is our foundation. Walking, turning, and several other movements need to be confidently secure while we move about in the water. Dogs feel every slip, every slide, and every skid. Any unsteadiness courses up the body into our fingers. When our foot slips, our grip tightens. The dog feels it. When we slip, our eyes widen. The dogs can see the surprise in our faces. Our momentary flailing suffuses our body with the stress hormones that direct the muscles to reestablish control. Each of our hormones has a unique scent. Dogs recognize the one for off-balance. So dogs not only feel every misstep, they see it and smell it, too.
Moving dogs in water
Soon, the students begin to be more skillful as they work with dogs. The water – the dog’s ability to easily move in it and be moved by it – is actually doing the work. So, we call our aquatic canine massage: PetMassage WaterWork™.
We facilitate the dog’s movement through the water in a specific set of movements to get specific affects. Every element that supports movement and function is, at some level, massaged. The warm water interacts directly with the coat and the skin. Moving the dog’s body across the surface, the water pushes, pulls, drags and floats the surface tissues. Indirectly, it works on everything underneath: the adipose tissue, the surface structures around muscles, the muscles within sheaths of fascia, tendons, ligaments, bones, nerves, and the viscera, internal organs.
The water in a warm swimming pool is clean and sanitary. It is very different from being in a lake, a stream, or in the ocean, where depths, footing, and water qualities are not controlled.
Before the dog gets in the water we document a history of his health and lifestyle. He is visually assessed for body symmetry and gait coordination. As he is moved in the water we watch the quality of movements and notice any variations. We observe levels of fatigue and many other attributes. We also record underwater videos. In the YouTube video you can see the forelegs of the small white dog moving but the rear legs are not. That’s part of the canine aquatic massage assessment.
We assess the length and strength of our dog’s stride. Ideally, the movements are balanced on both sides and in both directions. In the water, we can encourage the specific movements they require to rediscover their True North.
As canine aquatic massage practitioners we cannot claim to offer rehabilitation, or treatment, even though the unspoken benefits dogs receive are unmistakable. Most of our sessions are done with the supervision and referral of veterinarians. The owners of The Dog Dive, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the facility where we hold our workshops, have received many accolades from instructors at the Vet School at Michigan State University.
There is a clip in the video of a Weimaraner. Most of the bones in this aquatic massage poster puppy had been shattered in a horrific automobile accident. He was subsequently stapled, screwed, wired and grafted back together. Today, he’s a happy, playful, rambunctious guy who still loves to hunt. Without his water massage treatments, he would not be walking or swimming today. And, he requires consistent maintenance. If he misses a week of water massage, he can hardly move. His vet says, “Get him back in the water…NOW.”
Every dog’s benefits are noticeable. When it’s available, canine aquatic massage, PetMassage WaterWork™, has the potential to help so many dogs in so many ways. That’s the dogs.
Invitation to the Dance
Let’s talk about us, the PetMassage WaterWork™ practitioners. When we get to facilitate these dogs in the water, and we see what is happening, we are filled with awe. When you know you are doing this much good, and feeling this good about what you are doing, you cannot help but grin!
That’s joy on our faces. It isn’t shown in the video but the looks on the faces of the dogs’ owners are just as ecstatic. “Gratifying” is an understatement.
I have been teaching PetMassage WaterWork since 2000. I feel so fortunate to have discovered and advanced the state of the practice of canine aquatic massage as PetMassage WaterWork™. I would love to share this skill set with you.
Please consider owning and operating your own facility or you could rent space at a local dog swimming facility. There are very few canine aquatic massage practitioners in the US and Canada. The dogs are there. The demand is there. The opportunity is there. We have the experience. We have the reputation. Give us the opportunity to teach you and mentor you.
The next Hands-on Canine Aquatic Massage workshop is July 16-19, at The Dog Dive in Kalamazoo Michigan. You can still register for it.
We created a video several years ago of a WaterWork™ session with me and our late standard poodle, Jacques-a-Poodle-Doo. Enjoy the dance.
PetMassage Original DVDs and Books
It was just brought to our attention that somehow, someway, Amazon is having “technical issues” with several of our canine massage instructional books and DVDs. How could such a thing happen? PetMassage books and DVD’s show as being unavailable or with prices that are outrageously high. We are working to repair the situation.
We apologize for this inconvenience. For the rest of June and all of July when you place your order directly with PetMassage, we are taking 20% off the listed price (It is already adjusted on our shopping cart.) and enjoy FREE SHIPPING. Offer expires July 31, 2018.
Moving Like a Potted Palm
Did you see it? We are posting new YouTube videos every Tuesday at 2 pm. The most recent is “Moving Like a Potted Palm”
Feng Shui/Tai Qi
This is one of the body mechanics exercises that we practice during our PetMassage™ Foundation Level workshop. It’s a variation of a Feng Shui/Tai Qi form that I learned from watching the Terry Dunn video “Tai chi Yang Short Form.” It is the first movement Sifu Dunn teaches for developing balance and flow. It’s one of the first movements I teach for the same reason. A smooth, relaxed and confident transfer of weight signals the dog that they are in safe competent hands.
Balance and flow are essential in PetMassage™ for a couple of reasons. When you are balanced and grounded, you are more stable. Each movement begins in the soles of your feet. You are continually grounding yourself. Your power begins deep in the ground, the earth, the molten magnetic core of the planet. As you sink down, you discharge energy you’ve collected and gather new, fresh empowerment. It moves up through your feet, legs, hips, and fills your body. This all happens before it can move out your arms, hands and fingers, and into the dog. Your entire body is engaged: your focus, weight, intention, energy, eyes, and especially, your breath. Then, as a conduit between the dog and the earth, whatever “stuff” you’ve collected is channeled back down and out your feet.
Your movements are coordinated with your breath. In the “Tai Chi Eight Way Breathing”, you learned how your breath opens and closes, and raises as lowers your body. Your breath sinks you into the ground. Your breath lifts you up. Your breath raises your arms, opens your hands. Your breath closes your arms; tightens your fingers.
Potted Palm Twist
In the potted palm exercise, we are adding a twist to the 8-way exercise. Literally. Begin facing forward, centered over your feet. Sink down and shift your weight onto one of your back feet with your exhale. Turn and look over your back shoulder –that’s the twist. Inhale back to center. Exhale onto your other back heel and twist your waist until you can look behind you over that shoulder. If you’re unable to visualize the exercise from this text, hey: watch the video!
Back and forth. Back and forth. As you move, your arms swing out and around, like the fronds of a potted palm. Be careful to lean back, like you are ice skating backwards, instead of rising up onto your front foot to look over your shoulder. Stepping into your forward foot is not as stable. In fact, it will pull you off balance.
In the last section of the video, I demonstrate how this movement applies in a canine massage PetMassage™.
I hope you enjoy what you see. If you do, please leave a comment, share it with your network of friends and colleagues, and subscribe to our channel.
Greatest Love of All
Woke up this morning with the lines of a Whitney Huston song* on loop-repeat in my head. This has never happened before. At least not with this song. It’s amazing what floats up to consciousness in the last moments of a dream. It’s special when dreams continue into waking state.
“I believe the children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside…”
And repeat and repeat in my ear
The lyrics kept repeating as I started my day; taking care of the dogs morning routine, preparing breakfast, and checking my messages.
Throughout my morning meditation the phrases continued. “Teach them well” bubbling up to the surface. Sinking back into – “let them lead the way” – patterns of expanding diminishing circles.
I cannot move on until I’ve processed them. Maybe I need to pay attention.
Inner child with super powers
I think “children” can be reinterpreted as “our inner child.”
I think of the inner child as our pure essence. The spirit “beauty we possess inside.” Innocence. Purity. Clarity. Honesty. Simple truth. We need to acknowledge what we are. Who we are. Validate it. Remember our purpose. Release our power. Give it the reins. Let it ride. “The children are the future.” Let it (our true selves) lead us. It is YOUR way. Let it BE the way.
So often we are following a plan modeled by others, or one we chose when we were very young and impressionable. I remember deciding when I was 8 or 9 years old what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was after reading a book about a French art dealer. That momentary decision directed me into a 30+ year career track.
Many of us idolized our parents. We wanted to be just like them. So doctors kids go to med school. Farmers cultivate farmers. Cops kids are cops. Military kids continue traditions of military. Teachers beget teachers. Entrepreneurs create new and better entrepreneurs.
Before outside influences we were already whole
Before we had any influences from our books, PBS tv shows, family, friends, and teachers, we really already knew what we’d be good at. We knew intuitively what pleases us; what gratifies and satisfies. And, what doesn’t. We knew what makes us happy. We came into this life with a set of talents, proclivities, developed personalities, and points of view.
There was a little girl my daughter used to play with when she was 3-4 years old. Little Coreenie was the same age as my daughter; and moved as a dancer. Her angelic face and delicate hands, always positioned just so. When she sat, she alighted. Her skipping was graceful; posture straight and carriage sublimely rhythmic and balanced. When she ran by, music drifted in her wake. Her movements were more than a talent; it was who she was.
Reconnecting to who you are
You may have forgotten-or misplaced-your connection to the talents you were born to.
“Let the children lead the way.” Let’s pay attention to, and honor the wisdom of our inner child.
When you own it, concepts and skills come easily. Readily.
It is so natural and comfortable we feel we have already been in training for it.
We know it -understand it- at the deepest level: intuitively, it feels right. It is right for us.
It is our truth.
It is our earliest personal vision of what is the most joyful.
It aligns our hopes, dreams, and innate talents.
It’s a continuation of our spirit journey.
It is -when we choose to follow our muse- our destiny.
Love is easier the 2nd time around
Most of our PetMassage students have decided to pursue the path of canine massage because they have reconnected with the dreams of their inner children. They’ve completed the first career. They reconnected with a way of life that’s more fulfilling, more simpatico with their nature. They searched their souls and rediscovered their compass.
We all have some skills in which we excel and others that we enthusiastically leave to others. For example, I can do bookkeeping. I’m just not very happy while I’m doing it. My aforementioned daughter, loves it. She was born with a knack for organizing. Karma.
Not everyone is a dog person. Not everyone excels at drawing, or writing, or playing music, or athletics. Then there’s mathematics, and cookery, and following logical sequences. Oh, and speaking foreign languages, being able to complete thoughts, write run-on sentences, being social, and/or being comfortable being alone. Not everyone is organized, or blissfully scattered, or focused, or happily multitasking.
Some of us have identified our true passions as loving dogs and wanting to help them using massage and bodywork. We are the members of a tribe: spirit brothers and sisters. The voices of our inner children sing similar songs in beautiful harmony.
Helping you along your path
I was fortunate to have discovered the PetMassage for Dogs path for myself over 20 years ago. We created the PetMassage™ School so we could help others of our tribe discover and develop your individual spirit journey.
Wake up. What’s that song?
“PetMassage™ Balances Dogs and Their People. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.”
You are “their people.” You are the “beauty.”
“Your inner child knows you best; leads the way; with all the beauty inside…”
Follow your bliss
PetMassage™ is “Dedicated to the Growth and Development of Canine Massage.”
Learn about and register for upcoming PetMassage™ Foundation Level workshops, PetMassage™ WaterWork (canine aquatic massage), one day workshops, home study courses, independent studies, and the PetMassage™ Franchise School opportunity.
*Greatest Love of All lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Songwriters: Linda Creed / Michael Masser