There is soft focus in the practice of yoga. There is the soft focus used in meditation. Use your soft focus with your dog in PetMassage.
Hold your hand 6 inches from your nose with your thumb up. Squint, and focus on your thumbnail. Everything behind it shifts out of focus. Lower your hand keeping your eyes soft, not attaching your look to anything in the distance. Maintain this soft focus as you begin your assessment strokes and touches.
Made In The Shade
There are areas on the dogs coat that are shiny and others that are matte. Shadowed areas will be in the joints, folds of skin, margins of muscle groups, and unusual patches of uneven coat. Allow your eyes and hands to be drawn to shadowed areas. Darker areas call out for attention. Who knows what lurks deep in these creases and crevices? The Shadow knows! Each hollowed darkness holds mysteries, adventures…and opportunities.
We may be occasionally distracted by shiny objects, but when our vision is soft, our eyes are naturally drawn to images that are more quiet, restful, and soothing, that is, less reflective.
Hair In The Air
There are dramatic variations in light reflection when the hairs of the coat are not held tight against the skin. The coat is not lying flat. The hair is slightly raised. The little muscles at the base of the hair follicles are slightly stimulated, in a flexed mode. The tips of the hairs are held away from the skin, like the quills of an excited porcupine. Alert. On guard. Locked and loaded.
There are air spaces between the hairs. Less light is reflected so the area appears darker. Think of the raised patterns on the neck and down the spine when your dog is playing, excited, concerned, or on alert. The flexed hair muscles give the body the appearance of being larger and more formidable.
The Body’s Virtual Shield
With a thicker coat the body takes up more space. It’s not a lot; but enough to make a difference. Personal space is a prized commodity in the dog world. The one who controls mutual space is the leader. A puffed-out coat is a clear signal to others, indicating the level of arousal; and willingness to defend their space.
It’s also a little extra insulation between their body and the scary world.
Innie Or Outie
The shadows that we see may be in response to outer influences; part of the flight or fight response. Or, they may be the expressions of inner dynamics. Internal imbalances, struggles, coping patterns, holding patterns, injuries, and other internal stressors also cry out for attention and extra consideration. The extra space afforded by the expanded coat offers reduced pressure, and reduced heat to compromised tissues.
Take advantage of knowing where to begin your assessment strokes. You’ll find that shaded areas hold opportunities. Your lingering touches will sink into the depths through layers of coat and fascia. These layers are energetic ecosystems.
Slip Sliding Away
Shadows slip, slide, and shift throughout the session. They may be more or less obvious depending on the light, and whether your dog stands, sits, or shifts into alternative positions. They are spontaneous transient displays of your dog’s quality of life, as they are experienced.
And, even if the shadows appear to have been absorbed into the shininess of the coat, the bottled up messages they contained were opened and read. Our intention had been redirected into them. All the shaded areas you noticed – and the opportunities for grace they hold – are still there waiting for your intervention.