I have started to write about a very emotional and sensitive topic it seems a 100 times over – senior pet care…. but I have yet to get out the right words, to connect in a “blog” on such a personal level, that you hear me and you understand that I am here for you and your animal companion deeply and intimately in your time of need. Can I capture the essence? I will try. Senior pet care when it comes to hospice, death & dying is not an easy topic to write about, but it’s even more difficult to endure. There is such a need for support for you and the animal going through what I call the “last chapter” of their life. It doesn’t end there though…after…what happens after they are gone? How do you know they’re “OK”, how do you deal with grief, get closure, move on and find comfort among feelings of loss, guilt and excruciating pain from losing a loved animal companion? Or what about when the animal loses their person? They certainly grieve too. This journey is unique to every single being as they go through it and it’s different each time it happens with another loved animal companion. However, those immersed in this last chapter of life all need the same things; support, validation, healing and compassion. And that my friends, is what I do. Let’s see if I can unravel the layers one step at a time and likely one blog at a time.
When I started Animal Intuition, I didn’t foresee how much I’d dealing with senior cats, dogs & horses and certainly not about death and dying. I thought about how fun it was going to be to work with animals all day. That thankfully and purposely I wasn’t a vet that had to deal with euthanasia because of course, I didn’t have the stomach for it. I thought about helping, healing, and supporting. Even having been through losing pets myself, I had no idea there was such a gaping hole surrounding the needs of you and your animal companion during this time. It’s emotional, it can be draining, but it is also one of the most rewarding things I get to do. I have found I have the heart for it and the strength for it; I can be in the moment, feel what’s happening, share the tears and the pain, support everyone and yet, provide peace of mind and comfort along the way. I give myself fully to my patients, supporting you the way you uniquely need and I am truly honored to do so. There are days this the work takes it’s toll, but I accept it and know that I’ll refuel and be ready to help again tomorrow. Because, it’s THAT important.
Senior Pet Care
Like I imagined, many days are fun, funny, heartwarming and fulfilling. But when it comes to the “last chapter”, there’s often another side that is overflowing with tears, uneasiness, sadness, stress and fear. However, I am here to bring peace and comfort to you and make this chapter easier and more enjoyable as it plays out. I embrace my talents and pour on the compassion with full authenticity – it’s in my heart and I’m grateful that I can help others in such a special way. I am often the voice of the animals, sharing their wishes and where they’re at physically, emotionally and mentally. I am the missing link in a time when you want guidance and support and it all comes from love and compassion. It comes from understanding, healing energy and more love.
So, what exactly do I do during this time? Practically speaking, I aid in senior and hospice care through a variety of healing modalities; cat, dog and horse massage, Reiki, acupressure and aromatherapy. I offer consults about which supplements and essentials oils can be supportive for animal companions based on their health and dietary situation. As we near the end, you may ask for animal communication sessions to determine if or when their pet needs help crossing the bridge. Also, you might find it helpful to have a session or two after your pet has passed to help grieve and find closure. Most of the “hands-on” work provides comfort care to the animal to alleviate pain, boost their immune system, and help them rest easier – overall care to support and balance them physically and emotionally. Most people focus on the physical attributes initially, but quickly see how the sessions stimulate the animals mentally and balance them emotionally. It’s a bigger surprise when they see how the sessions bring peace and comfort to themselves.
These are valuable skills and talents and honestly they make so much difference for both the animal AND you, their person. You can see the difference; whether their dog sleeps through the night, or can take a short “W-A-L-K” again, or simply seems more comfortable. Sometimes it’s when the horse joins back with the herd, gets playful again and you can see him relax. Or when your cat jumps up to their favorite perching spot again and regains their appetite. No matter how small or noticeable the change is, I have found it matters as much to you as it does the animal itself.
Looking beyond the healing, of most significance is the compassion, understanding and the peace of mind it all provides. The support, empathy and unconditional love and care I offer to your family during this emotional roller coaster is really what it’s all about. Combine healing skills with a passion for helping others, and I’ve found a true gift I can provide during all phases of senior care for animal companions. Each patient is unique in their needs and desires for care and we walk together in this journey. I’ll guide you through the unknown waters of hospice and eventually losing your loved one, while helping to honor and cherish your relationship.
Though the emotional side of my work and passion stems from many areas, today’s focus on the end of life journey, “the last chapter”, is one of the more endearing and greatly needed areas. It’s a time of reflection, of coming to terms with your pets mortality the best you can, of watching them deteriorate, of embracing every precious moment with them, and of wondering if or when you’ll need to make the most difficult decision on their behalf to help them cross the bridge. It’s daunting and heart wrenching. But, I can tell you that each tear and all your worry is worth it when it comes to caring for your senior pet. Because you love them and you shared a wonderful life together. They are worth it. You are worth it!
A horse’s behavior sure can tell us that something is wrong, but sometimes we need to dig deeper to find answers to help us start to make positive changes. This is where animal communication often comes into play with people and their loved animal companions. Read about how animal communication and essential oils helped bring Lilly Mae and Jill to together and make positive changes in their relationship.
I cannot say enough about Jenny Gott’s incredible ability to read animals and communicate with them. Her animal communication sessions over the past year, in addition to her aroma-therapy session, with my pushy and opinionated 13.1 hh half-Haflinger pony mare, Lilly Mae, have allowed me to see Lilly Mae through new eyes.
During the first communications session Jenny did with Lilly Mae, Lilly Mae revealed things to Jenny that only Lilly Mae would have known I do with her! So it was very obvious to me that Jenny was actually hearing what my pony was saying to her. And then, when I had Jenny ask Lilly Mae if Lilly Mae was aware of how much I wanted to be her person to trust, the answer Jenny got from Lilly Mae changed everything about the way I should have interpreted Lilly Mae’s constantly slicked back ears, biting, and kicking. I thought Lilly Mae was simply a big, crabby pony that didn’t want anything to do with me no matter how much I tried to gently show Lilly Mae I loved her and wanted to take good care of her. But Lilly Mae told Jenny that she had tried to love and trust people before in her life but had always just ended up being loaded into a trailer and sent away from that person anyway. Jenny also got from Lilly Mae that Lilly Mae did know I was trying to love her but that I had to pass some of her “horse tests for people” before I’d become the one she could like and trust.
Well, after Lilly Mae told us those things, Jenny advised me to simply keep one thought in my head whenever I was doing anything with Lilly Mae and that thought was that I was always going to be Lilly Mae’s partner and would not ever give up on her. And, after I began doing that, it wasn’t long before Lilly Mae began whinnying at me and running to me when I walked out to get her in the paddock or calling to me eagerly from her stall when I first walked into the barn. Wow. Some follow-up communications sessions for Lilly Mae with Jenny have now left me knowing for sure that my pony does want to love me in return for my promise to not give up on her; my praising her as often as I can, and my being happy whenever she does funny things – which is almost all the time. The aroma-therapy session I also had Jenny do on Lilly Mae seemed very fun and pleasurable for Lilly Mae. The noticeably different but all very happy and interested responses Lilly Mae made to each scent also told me I have a real hoot of a pony mare for a best friend.
If I had not contacted Jenny to talk to Lilly Mae, I would never have had the door opened up for me into who my amazing pony really is and how she thinks about herself. Nor would I have discovered that the perfect equine partner for the non-assertive, serious-minded older woman I am is one very confident, smart, pushy, opinionated and fun-all-the-time half-Haflinger pony mare. Thanks, Jenny, for making me and my pony, Lilly Mae, happier beings.
Karen and Ravi have been a team for the last four years and started competing about a year later in hunter and eventing. While they love competing, their biggest goal and achievement is about their personal relationship and being on the same page. This will make perfect sense after you hear Karen’s answer when asked about her favorite class, “I don’t have a favorite. Anything that we do where we’re totally in sync is great –there’s no better feeling!” I imagine that many horse people can appreciate and understand exactly what she means. Ravi seems to be most comfortable and engaged in Hunter competitions, indicating that they’re his favorite….plus, “the fences are a little less scary!”, says Karen.
“Anytime, we stay together as one unit is a top achievement! We like to challenge the status quo, which gets this older rider in trouble now and again. We’ve done hunters, low level jumping and dressage and earned a championship in hunters though it is unrecognized. We once entered a jumper class where all the jumps were crazy colors and different from what we normally school and Ravi went around like a trouper. I was very proud of him that day.” These two are a wonderful example of what a horse and rider team should be; respectful, compassionate and patient. I’m honored that Animal Intuition gets to be part a small part of it all. Ravi is a gentle soul and it’s always a joy to work on him and with him.
Karen’s husband, Mark, visits the barn nearly every week. When Ravi hears Mark’s voice his ears perk up and he gets a light in his eyes because he knows he’s going to get extra pampering, special treats and even more grazing time than normal. It’s lovely that Karen’s family is supportive and involved in Ravi’s life. Of course, it’s clear that Ravi gets lots of pampering and shares both work and leisure time with his people, which is likely what makes for such a great team. Karen says, “They love to just ‘be’ together. There’s nothing better for peace of mind. He trusts me and I trust him.” If you’re heart is bulging with love just a little by now, check your pulse. Our clients are amazing and remind us daily of the wonderful, kind and gentle animal-loving people in the world. Thank you Karen and family!
So, you might be wondering how we came to be part of Ravi’s care team. Well, Ravi injured himself last summer. There was no detectable swelling on any limb, nothing showed up on x-rays, he was just “off.” After six months of just walking under saddle, vet bills and a trying a few other things, Karen decided to try massage ….and she said, “it made a huge difference!” It looked like Ravi was carrying himself in a protective way to prevent re-stressing the injury, compensating and over using other areas of his body. The initial weekly course of massage loosened the muscles to
Ortho Ease Massage Oil helps soothe sore muscles.
where he could carry himself properly again, as well as relieve pent us stress and tension he was carrying. Ravi didn’t go from lame to perfectly healthy instantly but after several weekly massages, which included aromatherapy using essential oils to help manage discomfort and potential swelling, he was much better. Karen brought him back into work slowly and they’re now jumping again. He’s fit and back to moving well, taking long strides and distributing his weight evenly. “I still have Animal Intuition out to give Ravi ‘maintenance’ massages, helping prevent injuries and keep him loose and mobile. It’s in his best interest and mine. I want to keep him healthy and moving well. After all, he’s carrying me around”, Karen remarks. One more thing that Karen noted since her experience in having us help Ravi recover, “consider massage earlier in the process if your horse is not feeling sound and to help in recovery. The muscles have to be loose for your horse to move correctly…..just like for us riders to ride properly”.
This team has some future goals that they’re looking forward to achieving, especially now that Ravi is healed and healthy. Karen said, “I’d like to show in some of the Red Pine Horse Association shows this summer and maybe go to some eventing clinics or the Long Lake Hunter Pace. And, also, we have a goal for both of us to stay healthy!” These sound like some fantastic goals for both of them. We’re all about healthy horses and love that they’ve got some new things to shoot for too. We wish you the best as you tackle all you set out to do!
Disciplines: Obedience, Rally, Agility, Fly Ball, Lure Course, Barn Hunt
Roue’s Person: Pat
Roue is a beautiful and fun-loving dog that might fool you into thinking that it’s all fun and games, well, because it is! She is a true athlete that loves to work and she’ll give just about anything a try and by try, that means she will give it her ‘all’. Roue has the titles and achievements to prove it! Just look at what she’s done so far:
CDSP: Open Champion, OTCH, Utility Champion (IP) with multiple HIT & HC
Lure Coursing: CAA
Barn Hunt: Senior level
Flyball: Top 15 for Rottweilers
NRC: Working Award of Excellence & Hall of Fame induction by the age of 4
Wow! I hope we got all of that documented correctly. What a recognized and decorated dog and we’re so proud to be part of her care team. Roue and Pat are a down-to-Earth-duo, but they deserve the spotlight shining on them – they’ve put in a ton of heart, hard work and dedication into all they’ve accomplished. A huge congratulations and honors to you both.
Let’s back up and start from the beginning. Pat and Roue have been a team from the get go;
A proud moment for Roue and Pat!
from the time Roue was separated from the litter, she started forming a new family and bond with Pat and the rest of her Rottweiler pack. With being one of many in the pack, Roue’s social self and personality blossomed. This dog loves dogs, loves people, loves to play and loves to “work” (if that’s what you call it!). She’s a great all-around dog and a spectacular representation of the Rottweiler breed. Words often used to describe this dog breed include alert, confident, courageous, devoted, fearless, good-natured, obedient and steady, which describe her perfectly.
With patience, dedication and incorporating in lots of fun, Roue debuted her talents in the spring of 2011 and hasn’t stopped competing since then. Pat and Roue’s favorite event as a team is agility, and Roue’s favorites include swimming and the Lure Course. They often work on “shaping tricks”, which help both the mind and body stay sharp in a fun and rewarding way. While it IS all fun and games, early on, Roue once challenged the challenge itself. Part of the competition required her to stay in a down position. Roue had other thoughts about how this skill should be executed, so with her own creative interpretation, holding to the rule of staying “down”, Roue rolled on her back and scooted all the way from the left to the right side of Pat during her Novice CDSP competition. While no points were awarded for her efforts, she was surely recognized by receiving an encore of laughter from the crowd.
Animal Intuition has been working with Pat, Roue and all the others in the pack to help them be at their physical, emotional and mental best for several years. Roue started out by getting regular massages to help relieve stress, maintain mobility and optimize her performance. She loves the relaxing effects of Reiki, so this beneficial healing technique is often included in her sessions. This dog is easy to love and always shows her affection by initiating our sessions with a big hug. When her muscles are sore, tight and restricted, essential oils are used to help loosen, soothe and help manage discomfort.
Occasionally, we check in with Roue intuitively to get her perspective on things using animal communication methods. We’ve helped Roue let go of grief from the loss of pack members, adjust to new foster siblings, deal with rehabilitation and get her feedback about the events she competes in. Currently, we’re focusing on the bodywork for Roue, working to help loosen muscles and eliminate some physical restrictions she’s displaying. We’re just one of the many on her team to help her. She is a regular customer at Rhythm of Life Animal Chiropractic and often uses the rehabilitation services at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medicinal Center. We are proud to be part of this elite group of care-givers and support for Roue – we love her like one or our own!
Roue, clearing the jump! Picture compliments of www.greatdanephotos.com
Pat’s current goal is to get Roue back to competing status and past her physical restrictions. As many athletes do, Roue has push the boundaries of her physical limits with her “work hard – play hard” attitude. Everyone is working hard to help get her back on track and once that happens, the plan is to keep her good shape and minimize any pain as issues arise. Pat is diligent and mindful of what Roue needs to help her recover and never hesitates to give her all that she needs, whether at home or with her care team specialists. Pat is a wonderful example of a an awesome pet parent for our community. Thank you Pat for all that you do!
A final note from Pat in summary; “It takes a village. Animal Intuition is one member of the team that helps and supports me and my pack of dogs on all levels: emotionally, physically and spiritually. Thank you.”
Yoshi has been a family dog her whole life, and currently loving life as an “only child”. Some of her favorite things to do is go for walks, snuggle and she is a fierce protector of Angie. Her size doesn’t matter to this little dog! She is a protector at heart. Once, Yoshi even saved another dog from being attacked by a raccoon. She ran up and wrangled the raccoon off the other dog, making enough havoc to encourage the raccoon to leave. Thankfully, the other dog got away safely and only needed a couple of stitches.
Yoshi on the beach
Yoshi used to go to work with Jeremy and spend her days greeting customers or napping in the display cabinets. Now, she hangs out at home more than the store so she can be with Angie and fit in all her appointments. Like many of our clients, Yoshi “might” just have a busier calendar than most people because Jeremy and Angie take such good care of her and make sure she gets the best of everything she needs.
Yoshi was diagnosed with a degenerative back disease about 3 1/2 years ago. Angie said, ” We were told she would always be on pain medicine, and at some point there was a possibility that she could become paralyzed – from even just jumping down from the sofa.” Along with continuing Yoshi’s daily walks, Angie and Jeremy placed pet stairs on all of the sofas, chairs and beds in the house to minimize her jumping, and started her on massage therapy and cold laser therapy immediately. They felt the massage therapy yielded better results for her, so her massages were increased to two sessions a week. Since then, Yoshi has been able to minimize the amount of pain medicine, now taking it on an as-needed basis, which is on average only a couple times a month. She is doing amazing! Jeremy said, “at a recent checkup, her doctor told us that Yoshi has done the best out of any dog she has seen with the same condition and that she is doing remarkably well for having her disease for so long already!” X-rays showed that the progress of Yoshi’s disease has slowed to almost standstill. We at Animal Intuition are so pleased with her results and happy that we are helping her stay mobile and healthy. Her people say, “Yoshi loves her massages, and greets Jenny every Tuesday & Friday with the same enthusiasm with which she greets us! She even helps her massage along by changing positions to ensure Jenny can massage all her sore spots! After her massages, she always goes to take a drink of water and then settles down for long naps. Massage therapy has kept her happy & healthy!” We love Yoshi too and she is a joy to treat!
Angie and Jeremy say, “Try massage therapy for your dog! We can’t recommend it enough, it has, with absolute certainty, helped Yoshi live a longer, happier & healthier life.”
Here’s Bourbin’s story, written by his person, Pam.
Bourbin was born and raised at the Ames Farms in Jordan; Cedar Ridge Arabians. He was in training to do park walking and trotting but became one of their school horses instead for English and western riding. He was later purchased at the age of nine (9) to be a companion for a young gal in Prior Lake. He was then purchased by me four years later, to be a companion for his stall mate, Bu Bu, another Arabian mare and myself.
Bourbin and I have been together for the last 16 years! We have done many things and grown in many ways. Bourbin had never been a trail horse. He was wonderful in the arena and knew what was required of him. He was all Arab – intelligent, beautiful, spirited, full of life, graceful, an endurance runner, and very social and comical. Our first several rides together were very challenging from being afraid of the lines on the road, to frogs and sticks in the woods, narrow trails and water. On our of initial rides, he was so afraid in the woods, he reared up and back, and I gracefully dismounted still holding the reigns, and landed on my feet. Somehow we stayed together in his panic and I gently lead him out of the woods into an open space for peace and calm before riding him home.
Bourbin’s top achievements, beyond being a successful school horse, have been learning to be a calm and obedient trail horse in the wild which means, even by himself, going to Murphy Hanrehan Park, going through water without bolting and hurting anyone (Arabians are desert horses by nature), and riding at my pace on the trails not his; and lastly trailoring to horse camp and trail ride beyond the comfort of his home throughout Minnesota and Iowa.
Pam and Bourbin going through the Dairy Queen Drive Through
I would say that one of his favorite things to do besides eat is to visit and take a bareback trail ride through the countryside. Also, a fond memory we share is riding through the Savage Dairy Queen! When I see him now, he comes as soon as he sees me, to be let out, fed, brushed and prepared to ride. He has become a wonderful companion and enjoyable friend to ride. In fact, he soon will be used to accompany me in doing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy as soon as the weather warms and I complete more training. He is ready to help others learn how to build trust and not to fear. We have learned so much from one another and now have a lot of fun together.
Being the spirited Arab he is, Bourbin has had a few missteps and falls in his older age. With the help of Jenny doing massage along with chiropractic care as well, Bourbin has recovered from his injuries. Even at 27 and slowing down, he is strong, vibrant, and youthful. I am so grateful for Jenny’s help and healing hands so I can continue to ride and give Bourbin a chance to give to others what he has learned.
If your horse has been injured in the slightest way, and as a result is not acting like himself/herself, beyond a vet check, please do not hesitate to contact Jenny at Animal Intuition to assist you and them in the most healing and recovery possible.
Many of us think of taking a pill when we hear the word “supplement”, but they don’t have to come in the form of a pill. There are other options such as, tea, essential oils and herbs. Therapeutic-grade essential oils can be added to a dog or horse’s food, inhaled or applied topically. One timely process is the Raindrop Technique® as it helps boost the immune system. With competitions, shows and trail riding season starting, this means increased contact with germs and heightened stress. Give your dogs and horses some added protection and give yourself that competitive advantage! In addition, it’s a great way to help strengthen their internal systems prior to annual vaccinations.
The Raindrop Technique® was developed in the 1980’s by D. Gary Young, based on a Lakota Indian healing ritual and was first used to aid in healing of spinal and related muscle injuries. Now it is known to be a powerful, non-invasive process for assisting the body in many things such as:
Detoxify from anesthesia, medications or poisons
Muscle fatigue and soreness
Stress or trauma; physical or emotional
Boost immune system
Increase mental alertness
Every person wants their dog and/or horse to be healthy, alleviate their stress and help them to perform to their optimal levels. Giving your dogs and horses a Raindrop Technique® semi-annually or quarterly, depending on the level of activity will help support your dog/horse physically, emotionally and mentally. For a professional body worker, such a practitioner from Animal Intuition, or once you have learned to administer it on your own, a canine or equine session will only take 30-45 minutes to complete. It is a flexible process, allowing you freedom to modify it based on the situation and desired outcomes. Since Animal Intuition is certified in animal massage and other healing techniques, combining some modalities can enhance the outcome.
Optionally, additional essential oils can be incorporated into the process to enhance the effect or to help reach a given. The process itself is very soothing and the dog / horse usually shows major signs of relaxation. A warm compress is placed over their back at the end of the session to increase the circulation and absorption of the essential oils.
A personal story from founder and Animal Wellness Practitioner, Jenny Gott: I have seen many profound results from what the Raindrop Technique® can do. I use this supplemental technique on my own horse, Indy. Unfortunately, issues do sometimes arise no matter how careful we are or what good intentions we have for our animal companions. For example, Indy choked which caused an infection because he aspirated during the procedure that removed the blockage. With a spike in his fever, a call into the vet and an appointment set in the morning, I decided that it would be a good time to give him a Raindrop Technique®. The vet was worried about pneumonia since the infection was still present after the first round of antibiotics and I have to say so was I! So with no time to waste, in the approximate 30 minutes it took me to complete the session, his fever dropped by 1°. This amazed me and made me feel better about waiting until morning for the vet to come out.
Spring season is a prime time to give your dog or horse a Raindrop Technique® before vaccinations, competitions and ride season is underway. It is a perfect time to give your dog and horse that extra immune stimulant to help optimize their health and help them be at their best.
We get a lot of inquiries about how to help cats and dogs with itchy, dry skin this time of year. Winter in Minnesota means it is cold and dry! Often our first recommendation is to review their diet, but if their diet has not been changed recently and it appears the dry, irritated skin has onset with the change in weather, it’s likely being caused by another source.
Here are a few suggestions to help make your cats and dogs more comfortable:
– Check moisture levels in the house (humidifier) and increase if appropriate. Studies vary, but say indoor humidity of 40-60% is desirable.
– Lavender & coconut oil: Apply lavender essential oil to irritated areas on the skin and cover with coconut oil over the top. This will help soothe and regenerate the skin. Use a very small amount of lavender. Application amount will depend on species as well as size. Ask us for help if you’re not sure how much to use. Make sure therapeutic-grade essential oils only. Cats and dogs WILL lick and ingest the oils and we want to keep them safe from artificial substances that could be toxic. You can get coconut oil at your local pet store or co-op.
– Purification Essential Oil: This essential oil can be added separately or in conjunction with lavender. It helps stop the itch and also has antiseptic properties to help prevent infection. If your cat or dog is scratching or chewing on their skin a lot, this is a good option to incorporate. Typically, our recommendation is to apply the lavender and Purification at separate times of the day. For instance, apply the Purification in the morning and the lavender in the evening. Coat each application with coconut oil.
– Add coconut oil to your dog or cat’s diet. Start with a small amount and increase it slowly over the course of a couple of weeks. Increasing the amount slowly prevents soft stools.
– Seameal supplement. It helps with allergies and skin issues as well as digestibility of food. It comes in a powder form making it easy to add to food.
– Consider things like bedding (blankets, dog beds, etc). Are any of them new, recently washed, sitting over/near heat vent? Recently washed could indicate an allergy or sensitivity to washing detergent, move if near a heat vent – the air could be too dry.
– Add water to his feeding or supplement with some high quality, limited ingredient canned food to get extra hydration into him or her.
These are a few things to look into to help keep your cats and dogs comfortable during the dry, winter months. If skin issues have been a persistent problem, please contact your veterinarian for assistance. We will work with you individually as well to help keep your pet healthy; providing such options as massage, supplements and changes in nutrition.
So, it occurred to me today that I’ve been in business for 10 years. OK, really it was the technology that tracks my work anniversaries that sent me a notification. You would think that 10 years is a big milestone and I would have it memorized. Well, it IS a big deal, but I don’t celebrate the timing the same way that technology tracks it. When I opened my doors for business, it didn’t start the way you might think. Take a trip down memory lane with me….
By the time 2005 rolled around, I had put myself through college – graduating with honors and two degrees, built a successful career working in executive management and had purchased my second home. My immediate fur-family consisted of Tucker – a senior Doberman Pinscher, Rufus & Yazhi – my cats, and Indy – an Arabian Gelding. With ambition and determination I made most of this happen before the ripe age of 30. Life was pretty awesome. I couldn’t complain. But I was missing something. I wanted a career that was more fulfilling and in something health and healing related….one day.
Sadly, Tucker’s health started failing. Though it’s not uncommon for a senior dog to start having some issues, it’s never easy see him struggle and in pain. Any dog-mom knows what I mean. He was my baby! Handsome, stoic, gentle, and “perfect”. His blood work came back abnormal, indicating that his liver was not functioning properly. I worked with the vets and also put him on some supplements. They optimistically estimated we had about three more months together. I was devastated. I wanted to do more to help keep him comfortable, make him happy, and have him here longer. There weren’t a lot of alternative options out there for supportive care, but I asked around, kept digging and researching. There’s nothing like the fierce determination of a “mom” trying to help her baby. I discovered essential oils and they gave me hope. I knew they wouldn’t cure Tucker, but my goal was to keep him comfortable. I worked diligently to find out what to do to help Tucker and began a regimen with him right away.
I kept dabbling in things, soul searching and looking for the “perfect career”, yet nothing was jumping out at me. Inadvertently, I had a conversation with a woman who suggested I take some classes on Reiki. Reiki – a Japanese energy healing technique. What? Yes, that’s right, “Reiki”. At the time, I knew nothing about it and it even seemed a bit scary. Being a Christian and coming from a working background in Western medicine, “energy work” stretched my beliefs and challenged me. Needless to say, I was curious and open to learning, so after getting a little more information, I gave it a whirl and found out I had no reason to be scared. Experiencing the healing; both giving and receiving it, was powerful. I immediately went on to take another course, completing my Reiki, level II Practitioner certification. Then, without hesitation, I designed some business cards and named my company, Peace of Mind, Body & Soul. “Open” for business…
Well, OK, sort of, but not really. Yes, I had business cards, yes I was a certified Reiki II Practitioner, yes I was helping people and animals use essential oils and I even set up an agreement with a local massage therapist to practice Reiki out of her facility on an on-call basis. BUT in reality, I was still entrenched in a successful career and it was just too risky to even consider doing anything much with my newly formed business. It helped my animals, it was a hobby, I enjoyed learning and I was drawn to it. Period.
Tucker’s health continued to deteriorate and I had to make the difficult decision to let him go. My baby was gone. My heart was broken. I didn’t see the light at the time that I had him for nine months longer than my vet thought he would make it. It was days shy of his 12th birthday, February 14, when we said our final goodbyes. I was beyond devastated and lost and full of grief. Anyone that has lost a loved one knows how this feels. I had my dear Tucker for 10 years, though it seemed as if he’d been with me for a lifetime. Forever my Valentine, now my angel.
A month or two passed and I was still missing my dog terribly and having trouble figuring out how to move past the grief. The “how it happened” now escapes me, but somehow I connected with an animal communicator and set up a session to help me with Tucker. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know you could “talk to a dead dog”, I didn’t know you could “do it” over the PHONE, and I didn’t know what to believe, but I didn’t care – I wanted and needed something to help me find peace. To help me honor my dog without so much of the emotional pain. I was willing to give this a shot. And I did. And it helped. A lot. I was finally able to release the guilt associated with making “the decision”, was it the right time, did I do the right things for him, did he suffer and so much more. I got the validation that needed to let go and start healing.
Following the session, the animal communicator mentioned she had a class on animal communication coming up. I thought, “No way! Tucker, now my angel, is still guiding me”. Of course, I should take the class. Reiki had already opened up my intuition and I was excited to learn how to apply intuition with my true passion, animals. I took the class. I learned, I cried, I laughed and I loved it! I promptly took the level two class. I added this new modality to my tool belt (and my business cards) and began contacting my friends and family with pets so I could practice. Practice I did.
I added a new family member, Bodi, my Boxer/Great Dane cross from Boxer Rescue of Minnesota on November 7, 2007. I loved him from the moment I found him on Petfinder. At four months old, I embraced this new little soul and re-opened my heart to experience the unconditional love of a dog. My house was now a home again. My amazing cats, Rufus and Yazhi quickly adjusted to their big “little” brother too.
As time passed, I continued to take random classes, read educational books and achieve certifications on related healing topics and techniques. I always focused on how I could help my own animal companions more and still searched for my perfect career in the back of my mind. I loved the learning, exploring and doing it on my terms. I was also still fully committed to my current career in “Corporate America”, so there was no sense of urgency to make any decisions.
Fast forward to January 2010. My corporate career had turned quite tumultuous due to recent mergers and a major downturn in the economy. Employees had quietly disappeared over the last two years since the mergers and the only executives were now owners, making it impossible to maintain my position as Vice President of Operations. One afternoon in January, I sat down with my former boss who let me know my position was being eliminated, but not immediately because they still needed some of my skills and information to help transition me out. As disappointing and scary as this was to hear, it was my moment of clarity. I already knew my next career path; healing animals. I had already compiled years of training and experience, had a healthy a savings account and now the perfect opportunity to take the chance.
I didn’t waste a minute. I bundled up all my certifications, healing techniques, training and experience and packaged them into my old, yet new-founded company, Peace of Mind, Body & Soul. I also went on to completed my massage certification by an accredited organization to formalize it. Not long after, I changed the company name to better reflect my true purpose and focus on animals, renaming it Animal Intuition. I haven’t looked back: Excitement. Fear. Ambition. Determination. Perseverance. For the Love of Animals.
Though I don’t technically celebrate Animal Intuition’s anniversary based on my first printing of business cards, now 10 years ago, I do celebrate and honor my milestones that have gotten me where I am today. That and Tucker, my beloved Doberman.
Many look at massage as a luxury, reward or something to do for fun. While this is true, no matter what the reason, there are health benefits. So, if you want to reward your dog or horse for a job well done, completing a season, hitting a milestone or just for being your awesome partner, they will get the benefit of you sharing your love and healing from the massage.
One of the most common reasons for massage is to help in recovery from an injury. It could be a pulled back muscle, stifle injury, ACL surgery or any other lameness that is evident. Regularly scheduled massage will help your dog or horse recover from the injury faster. Think about it – when you get injured or have surgery, what does the doctor prescribe to help you get better? Answer: Physical therapy. These sessions help you increase your range of motion, build strength, soften tissue and prevent the onset of scar tissue. This works the same in animals. Massage supplies nutrients to and removes toxins from the body’s cells through increase in circulation. Manipulating the soft tissue helps bring back the elasticity to increase the range of motion from specific areas being restrained during acute recovery. Also, it helps bring relief to areas where the animal was compensating. These muscles work overtime and get sore and stressed during times where other muscles cannot or are not being used.
8. Degenerative disease
Once our animal companions are diagnosed with arthritis, spondylosis, or another degenerative disease, it often creates a sense of urgency to help ease the pain. Massage can help deter the progression of these diseases because it boosts their immune system, flushes out toxins, supplies nutrients to cells by stimulating blood flow, and increases the production of synovial fluid (this is what lubricates our joints).
As our dogs and horses age, we start to see the wear on their bodies physically through slowed movements, stiff joints, loss of muscle mass among other things, including degenerative diseases. Massage can be a great comfort to these animals, especially to soothe tired, sore muscles and stimulate the circulation. While massage won’t turn back the clock, it surely can help them feel better in their senior years.
When our animal companions are hurting, we often seek out additional help to make them feel better. Depending on the cause of the issue, massage can reduce pain, swelling and help expedite healing. This can be enhanced by use of aromatherapy as well. Whether acute or chronic pain, there are many massage therapy techniques to relieve pressure, pain and encourage the body to heal itself.
5. Undetermined Lameness
When vets are stumped, yet it is evident there is lameness either through gate, behavior, physical reactions, it may be appropriate to massage the animal, given they have no contraindications. Massage is therapeutic; it stimulates the digestive system, increases mental alertness, boosts the immune system and helps heal the animal’s body inside and out.
4. Decline in Performance
Something in your dog or horse is “off”, but there are no physical symptoms of anything being wrong. They could be stressed, bored, need a change of pace, having internal issues (i.e. ulcer) or need help relaxing. This is a great time to have your dog or horse massaged because it will cause endorphins to be secreted, therefore allowing them to relax. Providing a way for the animal to release stress is critical to achieving optimal performance.
Working some knots out of RJ.
3. Behavioral Issues
When an animal does not have an outlet, feels overwhelmed, over-worked or frustrated with their life situation, we see the symptoms in their behavior. Most dogs and horses are not intentionally mean, disrespectful or disobedient – they are really just trying to communicate with you. Sometimes they just need a means to release the pressure they are feeling or give their brain a break so they can come back to the task at hand refreshed. We ask a lot of them at times. Also, massage can help rebalance the nervous system, allowing the animal to better respond to stress and everyday things brought about by life as a dog or horse.
Some animals that have been through a trauma, emotionally and/or physically may have built up a lot of fear and lost trust in humans. By creating a loving, healing environment and positive touch, these dogs and horses can learn to trust again and heal on the inside as well as the outside. It takes time and patience, but the energy shared between touch is powerful.
Preventative maintenance massages are one important thing we can do to keep our animal companions healthy. Our society as a whole tends to wait until there is a problem to fix it. We are all guilty, though when it comes to the health of our animals, by shifting our thought patterns we can train ourselves to do what we can to do to keep our animals healthy. Sports massage, an un-invasive and therapeutic modality helps prevent injuries and maintains their health:
Improves circulation and promotes healing of injuries
Relieves muscle spasms
Lubricates joints and can help ease arthritis
Reduces stress and tension
Increases range of motion
Enhances muscle tone
Promotes positive disposition
Increases mental clarity required for training/performance
If you ever have questions about when or how your animal companions can benefit from massage, contact a professional therapist, such as Animal Intuition, to answer any concerns and guide you in the right direction. Massage is not a substitute for veterinary care; it is a wonderful complement to the overall wellness care of your dogs and horses.