Furry Friend and Service Dog:
The reason why I added Canine Massage to my Practice
In December, 2008 my spouse and I adopted our dog, Shayna Punum. Rescued from the streets of Ensenada by a nonprofit San Diego organization (The Barking Lot), she was about seven months old.
When we first adopted Shayna, she showed many physical and emotional signs of the tough life she endured on the streets, where from a very young age she had to fight to stay alive. Physically she suffered from a line of missing hair on her snout, a large nodule of old scar tissue on the tip of her ear, a tender and bent tale, inflamed and swollen gums, and many of her teeth had tartar, fractures, chips and loss of enamel. Her poor condition was the result of her constant struggle for nutrition and possibly dog fights in her early youth. Her eyes were half open and dim in appearance. Her coat had a flat look to it. Emotionally, she was withdrawn and shut down. She was cautious when meeting people or other animals.
We wanted to create an unbreakable bond of love and mutual respect with Shayna. Because of my extensive background in massage/bodywork, rehabilitation and gait assessment skills for my human clients, I was confident I could help Shayna make positive health and wellness changes.
To build self-confidence, we enrolled her in basic training, intermediate obedience, advanced obedience, and training to receive her Therapy Dog International License. A shining star, Shayna’s training culminated with a Service Dog License to support my medical needs.
Happily, within a year and a half of working on Shayna, her snout scar with missing hair filled in, her gums were no longer inflamed, her tartar on her teeth lessoned tremendously, her compromised teeth had not worsened, her eyes became wide open, clear and very alert, and her coat developed a beautiful sheen. Once withdrawn, she now happily greets people, is curious and patient to meet other living animals, and is eager to learn new tricks and please anyone who
takes her leash to guide her.
My successful rehabilitation of Shayna encouraged me to share my knowledge and work on the dogs of friends and family. To further my skills and learn all I could about canine massage, I studied and received certification in Advanced Education in Pet Massage from the acclaimed PetMassage LTD Training and Research Institute in Toledo, Ohio. Their extensive training program focused on breed specific behaviors, massage skills, palpation skills, observation skills,
safety for the pet and the practitioner, interactions and indications, ethics, canine behavior, history of animal massage and business practices as they relate to pet massage. In addition to home and classroom work, my course of study included 6 months of hands-on training.
Our dog Shayna has been a blessing to us, and us to her, for so many reasons. Thanks to Shayna’s trust, focus and dedication to follow our lead, she has helped me recognize my passion to help dogs live happier and healthier lives.