Bliss. You’ve heard the Joseph Campbell admonition to “follow your bliss.” That’s exactly what I get to do in every PetMassage. Just last week I described my excitement every time I get to massage a dog. I used the term “giddy happy.” The dogs and I share waves of endorphin rushes together. It’s addictive for all of us. Addictive, in the best possible sense.
My goal is for everyone to feel this amazing when they massage dogs. We can all get there. Magic happens when we completely engage. It’s our spirits, having physical experiences.
In our PetMassage training programs we teach all the skills of canine massage that students need to know to practice professionally. As they practice, they learn. As they bring all the elements of massage together they develop cohesive therapeutic experiences for the dogs. How adept they become is very much up to them.
As with any discipline there’s a learning curve. Developing the skill set to massage a dog well takes time. It takes practice and repetition. It takes patience. Then, one day, in spite of the desire to precisely perform all the techniques, your massage is different.
You aren’t thinking about footwork, hand positions, breathing, or the dynamics of the space around you. Everything becomes soft and fluid; natural and comfortable.
Everything flows. Your body mechanics are perfect. The body language you and the dog use to communicate with each other is intuitive.
You know exactly where to put your hands and what to do with them. You know exactly where to move and without thinking about it, realize you’re already there. You’re integrating everything you’ve been practicing.
The session takes on its own character. You neither plan nor control. You and your little canoe are carried along within a gentle current. Movement, already internally initiated, unfolds effortlessly. You are a facilitator. The moment is ethereal. You have slipped into the “massage zone.” You observe. You allow. Moment to moment you are participating in a stunning milieu of grace absolute!
It’s like falling in love. Once you’ve felt it, you know the depth, the intensity, and the liberation (and the commitment) of experiencing the sublime.
This is the zone in which there is complete immersion and commitment in the canine massage process.
Now you know what it feels like to be this aware, this present, this connected. It’s attainable. You have demonstrated the capacity to go there. This is the mountain. It’s now part of your practice of canine massage. You’ve been to the mountain. And, you can go there again and again.
That’s the reason I was thrilled to receive the following letter describing a student’s breakthrough canine massage.
My response was simply “welcome home.”
Today I had the breakthrough I was afraid I would never get.
I was massaging a 14-year-old Australian Cattle Dog with lots of problems.
His right rear leg was flared out at the hip. He had several hot areas on his back and on both thighs. Something was a little off with the left front leg.
When I touched a problem area it was like I was being told: THIS is what I need to do here. This dog, in this particular area, needs this. Sometimes it was just very gentle compressions – the “breathing through your hands” technique. I somehow knew just how much pressure, and what was the right timing. Other places, it was other techniques. I was definitely being guided.
The hot spots disappeared. The owner (present during the whole 30 minutes), was amazed by the temperature normalization.
At one point, the dog was lying on his right side and the left rear leg was abnormally elevated. As I very gently worked on the thigh, his leg gradually relaxed until it was completely at rest. Then he fell asleep!
After the massage was done, the owner was in the reception area chatting with one of our groomers when I interrupted her – her dog’s right rear leg was perfectly aligned and he was standing equally balanced (on all 4 legs!) and obviously comfortable. He looked 5 years younger. She was ecstatic.
So, what an amazing thing it is to experience that “guidance,” to just somehow KNOW the right thing to do. It’s empowering and humbling at the same time.
What a great feeling to know that today I helped a dog feel better.
I know you are one of the few people who can understand and appreciate this experience; so I just had to share!
Here we are. It’s the end of January. And you’re reading yet another blog about resolutions. Will they never end?
Goals. Do you remember setting goals for yourself a few weeks ago? The first of the year we were all thinking about what we’d like to accomplish in the new year. We were bright-eyed and optimistic.
So much promise. We have 366 new days; each one filled with hope and abundant potential.
Fundamental change. We know we have to change our thoughts and behaviors if we want our lives to be different. We deserve to have lives that are abundantly fulfilling and abundantly fulfilled.
We deserve more affluence. More awareness. More love. More opportunities to provide meaningful service to our community. More clarity so we can recognize our potential, our destiny.
Resolutions. With exuberant optimism we wrote our New Year’s resolutions. In the spirit of the moment, everything seemed possible! We affirmed that we were living our visions. It felt good. True. It was empowering. Then we got in our cars and drove home.
That was a few weeks ago. How’s it working out for you so far? Are you any closer to attaining your goals? No pressure; but you’ve only got 11 more months.
Focus on one. Do you even remember what you wrote? Check your list. If what you “treated” for is not the singular top priority, decide what is. Fix your focus on one goal. One resolution. Let this one target be the rhythm of your life’s drumbeat.
To change a pattern, it involves a whole lot of focus; and maintaining intense focus takes effort. Finding a support network is important too. We know that.
Most of us have already created dramatic changes in our lives. For example, many of us used to smoke cigarettes. The fact that we don’t anymore, says a lot about us. Aren’t we amazing?
When I quit smoking, the effort took time and energy. I fought the cravings every minute, every hour, every day, for weeks, months, years, and even decades. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. Step-by-step, it was a long uphill slog.
Was it worth the effort? It was. Besides the initial goal of creating a healthier body and lifestyle, I gained the confidence that I have the tenacity to accomplish anything.
Quitting a cigarette or any addictive habit isn’t easy. It’s not a one time decision. It takes persistence. It’s a choice that has to be repeated again and again and again. That takes resolve. Often it takes failing and failing, before we finally realize we’ve succeeded.
Discipline and self-control. If your personal history includes having restructured your life, switched professions, or changed your relationship status, you can do anything. You have the discipline and self-control to change undesirable behaviors.
Job change. One undesirable behavior is an unsatisfying job. To discover, create and morph to a better, more satisfying career, it’s the same process. Use your resolve.
You need to apply as much patience, tenacity, and energy to your new venture as you did when you quit smoking.
Let’s say that you have resolved, set as your goal, to learn to help dogs using massage. You are going to do it right, and train to be a professional canine massage practitioner. Then, you’ll create a meaningful and successful business.
Monkey mind. What do you think is keeping you from attaining your goals? Is it time, money? Are you too young, too old? Are you too frail, too busy? Are you dependent on corporate promises of security and insurance? Is your experience in a different career track?
When I began PetMassage, I knew very little about dogs. At the time, I was an LMT and RN. I knew about massage; my expertise and passion was in using massage to help horses. My epiphany https://petmassage.com/about/ showed me the potential good you and I can accomplish for all of humanity with canine massage. I immediately committed myself to this powerful vision.
I resolved to learn as much as I could about dogs and what others before me had developed. I read everything I could find that had been written about canine massage. I attended dog shows. I learned about breeds, behaviors, body language, and I practiced and experimented to confirm what I believed I knew.
I was not a writer. The last paper I recalled writing was a report decades ago in college for an Archeology class. As for teaching, I’d never led a workshop or taught any sort of class. Giving a speech, even in front of group of friends, was numbingly terrifying.
Out of my comfort zone. I accepted that to promote the canine massage I experienced energetically, I needed to learn how to write, teach, and perform as a public speaker.
After 20+ years I’m still working on it. Still learning. Still evolving.
Dogs! The best part of my journey is that I’ve grown to appreciate dogs. That’s an understatement. I proudly claim the mantle of ODP, Obsessive Dog Person. I am giddy happy whenever I get to massage a dog.
Focus and resolve. Over the years it has taken continuous conscious attention to my choices, and celebrating each tiny victory along the way, to stay the course. There were times when it was definitely a slog. There were times when I was seduced by distractions. And I maintained my resolve. Now that course is pretty. Very pretty. I cannot imagine a more joyful and fulfilling life and occupation.
Taste the strawberry. If this year’s resolution is to learn canine massage and/or PetMassage canine aquatic massage, you’ve chosen to acquire a most desirable behavior.
Bring your resolve. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. I’ll help with the implementation.
Register for a PetMassage Training Program https://petmassage.com/calendar/, I’ll teach you what you need to know and how to do what you need to do.
You do not have to go it alone. As your mentor I’ll help you maintain your resolve. Whether it’s your business, marketing, or day-to-day professional practice, I am committed to support your canine massage journey with continuing guidance and encouragement. That’s my pledge for all our PetMassage graduates. And it is for as long as you are practicing canine massage.
The fruit is sweet. You’ve resolved for a magnificent calling. Let’s do this!
-Jonathan Rudinger, Founder and Instructor at The PetMassage Training and Research Institute
I received an email from someone who states “I am interested in your program to become certified in canine massage. I was a licensed massage therapist for about 15 years and “retired” the table last year after developing a back issue as well as hand/wrist issues.
I say all this to ask, is massaging dogs/animals as hard on the therapist’s body as it can be when massaging humans? Could you offer some information regarding what a massage session entails?
Working with animals in a healing capacity would be wonderful and something I’ve been interested in for a very long time, so any information you could provide would be very much appreciated.
Thanks so much. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Here’s my response.
Thank you for your inquiry. Massage is massage. We use our legs, backs, wrists, hands and fingers. Although not the thumbs nearly as much when we work with animals.
In my practice, I find working with dogs easier and much more enjoyable. In the PetMassage program I focus on teaching students to develop correct body mechanic habits. I have taught many MTs with back and/or hand issues. They learn to work effectively with dogs within their physical limitations. If you are drawn to massage dogs, there is a place for you. The dogs that you can help will be attracted to you.
Sessions begin with observing the owner walk their dog and then our walking the dog to assess gait, symmetry, coordination, anxiety, etc. We assist the dog in mounting the massage table, either by picking them up, or assisting them up a ramp or steps. I do not teach massage on the floor unless the dog is too anxious getting on a table. When dogs are on the table we have more control, better access to the entire body, and we can use correct body and breath mechanics.
The massage techniques we use are adaptations from Swedish, TCM Acupressure, TaiQi, Yoga, Energywork, and Orthobionomy Myofascial work, all contextualized for canine anatomy, psychology, kinesiology and pathology. Our scope of practice is similar to that of human MT. Substitute DVM for MD. So, massage!
You’ll use all the instruction we provide on canine behavior, inter-species body language, breathing and meditation during each massage session. So, canine massage!
At the conclusion of the massage, you’ll assist the dog back to the floor, observe his movement and demeanor, and schedule their next massage. So, massage as a profession!
I have several short videos you can watch on our PetMassage Training and a Research Institute YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=petmassage+training+and+research+institute. These will give you an idea of my teaching style and philosophy of massage. You can study demonstrations of full body sessions on our DVD series, PetMassage for Dogs 1 and 2 https://petmassage.com/store/petmassage-for-dogs-1-and-2-dvd-set/. These 2 DVDs are part of the set of texts we include in the PetMassage Foundation Level Program https://petmassage.com/petmassage-workshops/petmassage-foundation-level-program/.
As I said, if you hear the calling, follow your passion. I look forward to helping you on your journey.
Jonathan Rudinger, PetMassage Instructor
If you would like to discuss transitioning from what you are doing now to a career in canine massage, call us: 800.779.1001
We are inundated with information. It’s coming from everywhere. The content is on so many subjects that it is overwhelming. It’s hard to know what’s true, what’s not; what’s relevant, and what’s inconsequential. It’s confusing and all consuming.
This morning during my meditation, I was unable to quiet my mind. Too many thoughts. Each time I reconnected to Center, bringing my attention back to breath, another crisis emerged. Australia on fire, war in the Middle East, crises in Eastern Europe, in France, in Africa, in India, in China, and in the US. My thought energy is scattered— fraught with anxiety – my resources are becoming depleted.
Mindful Whack-a-Mole is not helping anyone. It keeps my mind so busy I’m unavailable to have fresh creative interaction with my empathy and intuition.
The effectiveness of my intention depends on how focused and grounded I am.
Focus. Remember to stay grounded. I cannot pour from an empty cup. And I certainly cannot drink when the cup keeps moving.
Because of the exponential increase of all the distracting dissidence, it is now more important than ever to find a way to focus; to stay grounded, especially during my meditative times that I need to recharge and tap into my intuitive processes.
I experience a surreal meditative state while I am massaging dogs. When I am in “open state” I exist in another level; one where my receptivity to creative thought is heightened. I breathe. I move in my breath. I respond to the dog’s breath; their shifting nuanced expressions of claws, eyes, ears and coat.
But when I’m in a state of uber-stimulation, I catch myself slipping into thought. I’m responsible for the quality of life in the precious spirit in my hands. And yet, my mind is elsewhere.
Thoughts are powerful. When my psychic energy withdraws, I feel it. I am not participating. I’m filling time. Taking up space. Adrift. The dog feels it too. They turn, look, grow restless, and think about jumping off the table. It makes sense. If I’m not available, what’s the point of sticking around?
How do I restore my oneness of mind-body-spirit?
Spontaneous clearing. My hands are still on the dog and it takes but a moment, one breathing cycle, to regroup and recast the experience.
Here are two techniques that I find helpful.
- Visualize a clear path. Feel yourself moving easily along this path. Breathe and swallow. Swallowing is punctuation. It’s a conscious exclamation mark.
- Tantric yoga Cobra breathing reinforces your focus by intentionally following the cyclic motion of one contained breath. Again, you are focusing on staying on the path.
The cobra breath is a tantric breathing exercise. We use our breath to move kundalini energy. With our inhale it moves up from the root chakra at the base of the spine to the crown chakra at the crown of the head. And then with your exhale you return the energy back to the root chakra.
Cobra breath. Press your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Open your lips and breathe in through the spaces on either side of your tongue. It will make a slight hissing sound. Like a cobra.
With your inhale, pull the energy up from your tailbone and feel it flow up your spine. Feel it rush to the back of your head and around the top to the crown of your head.
Keep your tongue pressed on the roof of the mouth. As it transitions across the gap from the pineal gland in the middle of your brain to the back of your throat, swallow. Feel the pop of liquid pressure in your ears.
Slowly breathe out. Keep your tongue pressed on the roof of your mouth. Close your mouth and exhale through your nostrils. Follow the path of your energy breath as it flows down your neck, sternum, belly, and into your pubic bone. As it jumps across from your pubis to your coccyx, swallow. Notice how the shift in the pressures in your ears helps the breath dance across your peritoneum. Your breath moves up the Governing Vessel, leaps the gap to the Conception Vessel and completes the cycle, leaping back to the Governing Vessel.
With practice you will only need one breath to restore continuity. Caveat: the cobra breath does take quite a lot of practice to master.
These are two techniques that I use to stay grounded, connected, and receptive. When you find your attention wavering during meditation or canine massage, try them. Let me know if they help.
Also, let me know if you have any other ways that you use. Describe them in your Comments at https://petmassage.com/in-times-like-these-we-need-to-learn-conscious-grounding/
Other subscribers to this blog would love to learn how you overcome mindfulness distractions as well.
I love to massage dogs. Even more than massaging dogs, I love training and mentoring others to massage dogs. I envision the workshops we teach as vocational training. I have a vision of canine massage as a serious, respected, and professional career.
I’m thrilled that the concepts I introduce during workshops, along with the manual skills, have integrated into the practice of PetMassage graduates.
One of the concepts I proffer refers to dogs’ psychosocial relationships with their people. Dogs are phenomenally empathetic. They are so profoundly connected with their person that they may mirror their symptoms. The mirroring may not be virtually kidney for kidney; rather they feel the emotional responses to living through the trauma, the survival, the treatments, the complications, the whole “story.”
We often have to have heartfelt conversations with people to make them aware of how impactful their personal traumas are having on their dogs. We remind them that every time they replay their tape in their conversations or in their minds their dogs experience it as if it were their story.
The 3 Gates of speech apply to our dogs as well as people. Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind (to yourself and the ones hearing you)?
For my final “Jonathan’s Helpful Hints” blog of 2019, I’d like to share a holiday greeting we sent to our graduates and one of the responses we received. We are all members of a community of like-spirited, like-intentioned people. It represents the kind of continuing connection we strive to maintain with graduates of the PetMassage program.
It’s the end of the year. For me, it’s a time of reflection, gratitude, and connecting with people who have become special to me.
Thank you again for choosing PetMassage for your canine massage training. Please let us know how your practice is progressing. We are always available to talk and be your mentor resource.
Have a healthy, loving, and purpose filled holiday and new year.
Thank you for the holiday greeting. I am doing GREAT!!! 20+ clients for laser, a couple of whom have morphed into ongoing massages.
I just engaged with a herding dog – schnauzer/mix, female 12 years old whose owner has, in the last 18 months had a broken knee, breast cancer, broken hip and depression. We discussed how the poor dog has gone through everything the owner went through and then some. The pooch is untrusting (she spent 5 weeks with a pet sitter who had a bunch of construction workers through her home – it was not good). She is afraid, she doesn’t know her place and she’s very tentative of strangers.
I did all the right stuff: I sat and let her come to me as she wished . . . eventually, she settled enough for me to begin the massage . . . I checked and balanced the chakras as best I could (there are still a couple of blockages, but we will address them in future sessions). The owner was mesmerized and SO grateful for my assistance with Ashley.
This is the stuff of which your massage training is made! Thank you for your expertise and your continued education via videos and emails.
Have a great holiday season and stay in touch!