I drove up to the gate, stopped my car, and cracked the door open. The smell of the ocean and the crash of surf on the beach oozed in, and I could feel myself relax. I took a moment to bask in the sun, with the birds and beach sounds. I hopped out, grabbed my bag, and pushed in through the gate. I’d seen this dog last week – a labradoodle, but a BIG fellow – a full sized poodle with lab cross. I’d seen him for heartworm prevention and a checkup – his owners had got a vaccination reminder for a completely unnecessary re-vaccination, too, so I explained he wouldn’t be needing that! Anyway, I’d found that he had a sore back, and today I was back to give him a Whole Energy Body Balance session.
“Hello, come on in,” came a cheery call from inside when I knocked o the door.
She called their dog in – about 30 kilograms of big, puppy like hound (he was only about 2 years old).
“Can I pop him up on the couch?” I asked.
“Sure, if it’s easier for you,” came the reply.
I asked him to jump on the couch, and then began to connect with him, hands-on – well! He was not at all sure that he should allow me to touch his body. He’d had a heavy impact from a car a year ago, a hit right along one side, enough to bruise his lungs so badly he had to be in hospital on oxygen for 24 hours. So he was worried I might hurt him.
He wriggled, he jiggled, he rolled over, he grabbed my hands with his mouth and carried on like a pork chop. I gently persisted, all the while explaining to his mum that this was normal (and it is, nearly always the first WEBB session is like this, with the dog not being used to deeper, intentional touch, and being guarded of tender or tight areas).
“He’s a lovely fellow, isn’t he?” I said, as he continued to try to make all of this into a huge game, wrestling with me, tail wagging happily.
I got him off the couch, and standing up. Then it was a bit easier to handle him.
“I’m going to start off with some deep pressure- long, slow, firm strokes over his body – watch what I’m doing, because I’m going to ask you to do this every day until I come back and see him again,” I explained. “This will help him calm down, and it will also help get him used to this sort of touch.”
He still wriggled, and tried to play, but after a little while I felt his body start to soften.
“Watch his eyes,” I explained to his mum. “See how they are starting to get softer, and look a little sleepy? That shows me that he’s starting to respond to the hands-on work. The deep pressure and hands-on connection activates his parasympathetic, or rest & digest nervous system. As he settles in, I’ll be able to connect more deeply, and start to release more pain and tension from his body.”
“Yes, he’s really responding, isn’t he?” she said.
I started to feel into his lumbar (lower back) area, where I knew he was quite tight and sore. He instantly started wriggling and wanting to grab my hand in his mouth, so I went back to the slow, firm strokes until he settled down, and then re-connected with less pressure. He looked at me with worried eyes, but allowed me to gently ease in and release pain and tension. His eyes quickly grew very sleepy, and he took a big, deep sighing breath.
Before long he was relaxed enough to lie down, and I could work quite deeply into releasing his lower back, rib cage, and diaphragm. He was flat out on his side, and melting into the floor, like a big brown fluffy puddle, eyes closed, taking deep breaths and stretching his body a little now and then.
After a while I got him back up on the couch (he got all excited again, so I had to return to the deep pressure strokes for 5 minutes until he settled and relaxed). I kept on releasing, connecting into the tight, painful areas of his body. He had a lot of deep tension, likely old trauma from being hit by the car, and I could only work on the outside layers – he was simply too tight to dive in and release it all. His body would need several sessions with time in between to let go with his everyday movements and walks. I let him hup, and he shook me off and went outside to sit on his chair, keeping a careful eye on me.
I also asked his mum to stop throwing balls for him – ball throwing, while fun for dogs, is bad for their bodies- very high impact, and likely to cause injuries. If you get rid of the balls/toys (and sticks, NEVER throw sticks for your dog!) you’ll find that your dog will act like a dog instead of being obsessed and wizzed up, over-excited. You’ll see that they sniff around, explore, and do dog stuff instead (much healthier for them).
It was time to get back on the road, and I drove off in a happy glow. It’s such a pleasure when I can help a dog feel better like this! (By the way – this dog’s owners didn’t know their dog was suffering from back pain and tension. Most people don’t, and more than half the dogs I assess are silently suffering! If you’d l;ike your dog checked, give me a call on 0428 278 630)