It’s always encouraging when a difference in a dog is so evident after just one treatment session. These improvements are even more pronounced when the carer takes everything on board that we demonstrate and talk about. In the first session, we don’t just perform appropriate therapy but also demonstrate what to do to help in between sessions, suitable exercise, how to recognise muscle tone, gait, stance and therefore, monitor change and progression. All in the same session. Plus, this is all followed up with a personalised workbook for revision and homework.
Roo and her carers were a perfect example of this co-operation. I first visited 8 year old rescue collie Roo a few weeks ago. Previous to rescue, she had a rear leg operation but no rehabilitation. Her new carers wanted to put an appropriate plan in place now.
At that time, Roo was anxious and very clear on which bits were the OK bits to touch and which were off limits.
This time – a new girl. Straight into massage pose. Sitting with her Mum – confident, assured and trusting. I didn’t need to ask whether they’d been doing their homework – Roo was showing me they had.
Mum said that she now has daily massage in bursts – Roo doesn’t sit still for a full 15 minutes. But when she is still, her Mum switches on Therapist Mode and “consciously thinks about touch rather than petting”. The other day there was a big success. Now, this sound minor to some of you who can touch their dogs where you like, but Roo had to learn about trust and that touch could be helpful. But, as her Mum said, “She actually gave me her rear end to me to work on……I can’t remember her ever giving me that before”. Roo clearly felt confident in doing so and trusting that Mum now knows what to do. And at the end of the session this time, she was rolling on her back, exposing her belly, making soppy noises in, what her Mum called a “sexy sassy look”
Her walks are longer now, although she can be a little stiff the next day after a very long one. It’s still a balance of her being an unstoppable collie and keeping to sensible distances during this rehabilitation stage. But that is progressive learning.
Her muscles felt like a new dog too. She really was a totally different girl. This is where a care plan involving therapist carer and dog can make so much difference. Her Mum said “…. Thanks for showing us how to love her in better way. ❤️”
An added benefit is that Roo’s Mum said that she now finds herself looking at friends dogs and thinking (aloud) “Oh…that muscle is less well developed than that one – have you noticed?” Keep spreading the word! And keep on trusting your Mum and Dad Roo, you should be so proud of them. I know I am.