“Best job in the world” – absolutely!
We have two dogs, collie spaniel crosses, brother & sister. Sam has always been the seagull chaser, which is lucky as we live by the sea. Sarah was the ball catcher. When she was around 6 years old, Sarah started to change in personality and gait – she became grumpy, stiff walking and generally seemed ‘old before her time’.
As a qualified human masseur I attempted some techniques on her which she seemed to appreciate. I attended a basic introduction to dog massage workshop to learn if it was possible to adapt my human skills for a dog. That was it – I was hooked. I took and passed the diploma course and then gave up full-time work as surely nothing
could be as rewarding as helping dogs to regain their quality of life.
I set up my own dog massage and muscle therapy service called AchyPaw so that I could offer a personalised service benefitting both dog and owner.
Not just arthritis
It’s now over 5 years since I took that new career path and have treated many hundreds of dogs. I soon discovered that physical therapy is not just for dogs with arthritis, although that condition is wonderfully helped by massage and a sensible exercise programme. It is inclusive of all sorts of condition and ages. From the puppy who would like that extra bonding with their owner, a dog that has just had surgery, an epileptic dog, a senior dog who is simply slowing dog, dogs who had unfortunately had a leg amputated, an overactive dog who needs relaxation and even palliative care.
Workshops for owners
To achieve even more success and progress, the owner needs to be fully involved in the treatment plan. I always leave the Mums and Dads with ‘homework’ but hopefully this is not like school but enjoyable. That lead me to start designing and delivering Foundation workshops which teach people how to massage their own dogs. I’ve delivered introductory sessions, sessions for the agility dog, sessions for senior dogs and even sessions for puppies. These are in groups or one to one. It is heartwarming to see the dogs come into the workshop eyeing each other up at the start yet 45 minutes later they are all in snoozy pool in the middle of the room.
So have I got the best job in the world? Absolutely!
If you want to see more about what we do, you can read stories of many of the dogs I treat on my AchyPaw Facebook page or on my webpage of achypaw.com.
Dr Les Ellam