I am very excited to present our first in a series of guest posts here at Animal Massage Guide. I thought reading about how others came to work with animals, and about their practices, would be a great inspiration to those of you who are thinking about starting your own animal health business.
And for those of you looking for alternative health options for your pet, hopefully you will hear of a new way to help your pet live his or her life to the fullest.
First out is acupuncturist and massage therapist Linda Jackson, who is the founder and director of The Centre for Acupuncture, Herbs & Massage in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She was a founding member of the Kripalu Center in the 1970s (where she is still on the faculty), and her impressive resume also includes a Master’s Degree in both Education and Oriental Medicine.
Her most recent endeavor was co-authoring A Dog Lover’s Guide to Canine Massage with Jody Chiquoine (Jody will tell us about her canine rehab and hydrotherapy business in our next guest post).
Canine Massage at The Centre for Acupuncture, Herbs & Massage
By Linda Jackson, Lic.Ac., MacOM
My work with animals began with my own dogs over 17 years ago. Massaging my dogs was natural since I’ve done massage professionally for over 30 years. Whether people, dogs, cats or horses: the massage strokes are the same. We all have muscles, experience stress, benefit from relaxation, need healing at times and are happier when we are living a full and healthy quality of life.
I am the owner/operator of The Centre for Acupuncture, Herbs & Massage in Great Barrington, Massachusetts – a healthcare clinic that offers services to both people and their canine companions. Much of my work involves educating people to change the way they think about health and wellness. I was drawn to Oriental medicine, massage and herbal medicine because it is based on a paradigm of health instead of illness. Historically, doctors of Oriental medicine were not paid if their clients got sick. They were only paid as long as their clients remained healthy.
Even though most people and/or their dogs initially come in with a chief complaint because that is what we’ve been taught to do, once they feel better I educate them to think differently about their health. I encourage my clients to practice healthy living at home with lifestyle practices they enjoy, and schedule regular appointments throughout the year so that they support their immune systems, relieve stress and stay well.
My professional work with animals was an organic process, actually. I had just moved back to Massachusetts from Oregon and my puppy, Romeo, was faced with numerous health challenges after accidentally eating rat poison. Western medications were palliative at best. I began a course of study for certification in Holistic Animal Care at the New England School of Acupuncture so I could learn to apply Oriental medical principles to my own dog’s lives as I have in my own. Romeo responded so well to changes in diet, massage, acupuncture and exercise that it wasn’t long before others were asking my advice.
During my studies, I met Jody Chiquoine. She, too, had a dog with health challenges. Teaching her to massage Remy was how our canine massage course began. We quickly saw how massage could be of benefit for anyone caring for dogs. If guardians and care givers were the ones regularly massaging their dogs, not only would their dogs also enjoy the benefits of massage, their care givers would be the first to notice changes, pain or injury and needed veterinary care could be pursued earlier.
Being healthy and staying well through regular massage, acupuncture and lifestyle choices certainly improves our quality of life. Our dogs deserve the same.
Jody and I developed our course by joining our love of dogs and our combined experience to offer massage and stretching to dog lovers and guardians. For the last five years we have offered our course three times a year with full classes every time. Our participants include veterinarians, trainers and owners. A Dog Lover’s Guide to Canine Massage grew out of our classes and is used as our text and now to everyone wanting to learn these techniques at home. The feedback has been awesome. We hope you will enjoy learning to massage your dog as much as we do!.