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Seeing change as it happens – positive effects of Canine Massage

Tristan gets a massage Tristan is a great little dog. A Jack Russell Terrier, he surprises people with his ability to get along well with everyone – adults, children and every dog he’s ever met. There’s something so engaging about him that people can’t help but stop on the street everywhere he goes to say hello and talk to him. He’s got his challenges, though, and perhaps it’s his ability to continually overcome them, cheerfully and without complaint, that everyone finds so captivating about him.

Tristan has trouble walking sometimes. His rear end wiggles back and forth as he compensates for whatever it is that prevents his legs from moving normally. He has a hard time going down stairs.

When I signed up for the canine massage class, my teacher Donna told me I could bring one of my own dogs. But since Dasher hates the car and Bella reacts not so well to other dogs while she’s on leash, I declined. But then I thought of Tristan.

Donna watched Tristan as I walked him on the lawn before class started. She could see right away where the problem probably lay in his lower back. Maria, my classmate and long time groomer who hosted the class at her salon, Sudsy Pup in Lebanon, pointed out how the musculature in each of his rear legs was different from the other.

Tristan waited patiently during the lecture, but continued trotting back and forth among us throughout the morning before the actual work began. When practice time came, Tristan was again patient in his own wiggly way as I followed Donna’s instruction, first observing and then assessing before trying the actual massage techniques.

After practice and lunch, Donna used Tristan as the demo dog to show us a complete massage from beginning to end. Donna was able to quickly assess that a full massage would be too much for Tristan. His body signals as well as the tightness of his muscles told her that she needed to move slowly. She worked using cupped hands, working in large circular motions. Shortly into the massage, Tristan, who had been standing, sank to the table. He lay still. His face changed, his eyes becoming rounder and softer. His jawline loosened.

As each of us watched this transition from tightness and physical stress, his “normal” mode, to true relaxation, none of us could stop the unexpected tears that flowed as we witnessed for the first time a true peacefulness about Tristan who was now relaxed and free from constriction.

Tristan emerged from his massage calmer, and we watched as he shook off, noting that the shake stopped at the lower part of his back and then resumed at his tail, evidence that there was still something not quite right there. Tristan rested quietly for the remainder of the class, and as usual, was happy to get into the car for the ride home.

I’m so grateful to Donna that she could give something back to Tristan, for the joy he brings to everyone he meets, every day and for teaching me to do the same.

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Posted in Behavior, Holistic Living, massage, spirituality.

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