I think many people don’t realize quite how powerful alternative therapies can be. Most people are aware that massage can help relieve stiff and sore muscles and loosen up scar tissue, but it can also be a tremendous help with many other conditions, both physical and psychological.
We have talked about what massage is exactly earlier on this blog (in the Deep Tissue and Swedish Massage post), so I won’t go into it too much again, but in short, massage is the manual manipulation of the muscles and soft tissues of the body in order to soothe and heal. It can be done with a light touch, as in a relaxation massage, or one that works deeper, as in deep tissue massage.
|Meet Linda Gould|
Today’s case studies come from Linda Gould, founder and owner of Woofs & Hoofs Animal Massage in Helchteren, Belgium. Linda has been working with animals for 14 years, and does in-home massage visits, holds workshops for owners, and teaches professional level massage courses. I asked Linda how she got into animal massage, and she told me:
“My background in animal massage started when my 1½ year old, 12lb cat fell off my refrigerator and landed on one hind leg, breaking all 4 metatarsals (the long bones) in her foot. She was operated on and put into a cast for several weeks where she turned from the sweetest, most loving cat into an absolute tooth-and-fang demon that did not want to be touched anywhere because she was tense and in pain. I started looking for natural techniques to help ease her discomfort and help her healing and actually just stumbled across animal massage. Fourteen years later, a limping pet sheep who taught me a lot and horses/ponies/dogs mobbing me for their turn under my fingers and I’ve made my passion into my career.
I continue to learn and try new techniques and information out on a variety of animals and refine what works and what doesn’t into my own personal form of animal massage. I work with pretty much any type of animal and have even had the pleasure of working on a camel. How was it? Unexpectedly hairy!
I now also offer and teach professional level courses both online and hands-on in Belgium through the Woofs & Hoofs School of Animal Massage for animal lovers like myself who want to relieve an animal’s discomfort, reduce its pain or speed its recovery after injury or surgery.”
Q: Is animal massage a well-known and generally accepted therapy in Belgium?
“Belgium is really quite progressive in their thinking and even homeopathy and craniosacral therapy for people are reimbursed by the insurance companies. There are homeopathic vets and vets that do acupuncture. They are just starting to recognize and accept animal massage so it is just a matter of time before it really catches on. That’s why I want to have a whole bunch of animal massage therapists trained and ready when it really gets going. When I started my business here, I’m pretty sure I was one of the first. I have since seen more and more animal massage therapists popping up and they even teach a very basic version of dog massage for pet owners in the government-subsidized evening schools. You do still get those people that think it is foofy spa treatment…until they see their own dog respond to it. Or when they see them cramp back up when the owner decides to stop getting their pet massaged. Then they call asking how soon you can come!”
Linda kindly sent two case studies: Jaco, the Samoyed, who basically got his life back thanks to massage, and Archie the PBGV, who suffers from epilepsy.
Q: Linda, Which acupressure points was it that helped prevent/stop Archie’s seizures?
The best points I have found to use on dogs with epilepsy are at the beginning and the end of the Governing Vessel – at the “split” in the upper lip and at a point between the anus and the root of the tail. It realigns the energy in that meridian and creates a feeling of calm. When you see the animal heading into a seizure, hold these points simultaneously for about 30 seconds or until you see the animal fully relax. The point on the lip is also used for animals in shock.
Q: What is it in the massage do you think that has helped reduce his seizures so dramatically?
I tell owners of dogs with epilepsy that I look at the brain really simply. Imagine, for example, that the brain can only process 5 messages at once (VERY simplified). So if a dog with epilepsy is, for example, hungry (message 1), is maybe a little excited because a ball is being thrown (visual stimulus = message 2) and the heart rate is up from chasing the ball so blood pressure needs some regulating (message 3), all is fine. The dog can continue to run and play and eat and nothing happens. As these stimuli go away, so do the messages the brain has to process. Now imagine that same dog in a slightly different situation. This time, he’s been chasing that ball so the neck muscles are a bit sore (message 1), the jaw is tight (message 2), he is still a bit hungry (message 3) and excited because it is almost dinner time (message 4) and now he has to pee (message 5). He is at his limit of 5 messages at a time. Add one more message (a cat runs by or a sudden noise catches his attention) and boom! a seizure is triggered. With massage, I remove the messages coming in about sore places and tight areas so there is more room for the brain to focus on other things and the dog doesn’t hit its “limit” as soon or as often. Most owners understand this simple example.
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Linda for sharing all this educational and inspirational information with us!