Last week, my lovely Sid had a ‘spa day’.
First we went to the hydrotherapy pool where he had his usual twenty minute swim.Â This involves quite a high degree of pampering because not only does he get lowered gently into the warm water by two people, but after he’s had his relaxing paddle around the heated four metre circular pool, he gets lifted out, and laid on a soft towel on a pontoon … and gets cuddled by Ross, one of his favourite people, who prevents him falling back into the pool in his overly relaxed condition while he gets his land-legs back.Â Meanwhile, Wendy (the hydrotherapist) gives him a nice warm shower by hand to keep his muscles warm and rinse him clean of pool water.Â You can almost hear him saying ‘pass the grapes’.*Â After that he gets towelled and blow-dried with the greatest of care for his well-being and comfort.Â They’re pretty darned good with all the dogs, but I get the feeling that Sid gets star-treatment, just because he’s a tripod greyhound .. and I’m not going to complain about that!
Next came the really exciting part.Â We got back into the car and drove to the other end of the property where Sid met his new friend, Karen Perry, canine (and equine) massage therapist.Â Karen visits the greyhound kennel every six weeks or so to take care of any of the resident athletes who need a bit of work, and she’ll see any pets too, if she has space in her diary.
Karen had Sid’s
couch bed ready for him in her temporary office, in a shaft of sunlight.Â Sid was more than happy to lie on it and allow his new friend to pet him, but he was a little surprised at the next turn of events.
Those of you who have ever had therapeutic massage will know that it hurts when they hit a sore spot.Â It’s a ‘good’ hurt, but there is definitely pain involved.Â Karen was a lovely, gentle lady, and obviously had a great rapport with animals.Â I told her that Sid was good natured, and would not object to her working on him and she confidently set to work.
The first thing she did was find a knot in his left shoulder.Â Sid let her know about this by sharply turning his head to look at a point in the air midway between her left ear and her hand.Â Then he very slowly relaxed, still with a thoughtful, inward-looking’ expression on his face, and let her get on with kneading the muscles in the equivalent of his upper arm until they were soft.
She checked his other front leg, loosened up his neck, then worked her way down his spine pausing at every ‘hot spot’ and working on the muscles and ligaments until they relaxed under her gentle fingers.Â She then did his back leg and even his stump.Â Sid never minds people touching his stump, and often stretches it out in response to a scratch in the right place.Â I think Karen was a little surprised at this, because stumps can often be highly sensitive and many animals (and probably people) really don’t like them handled much.Â Anyway there wasn’t much of Sid that hadn’t been thorough worked over by the time we left!
Karen also showed me how to do a little home massage myself.Â I have been doing it for years, just rubbing along his spine and down his legs, but it was good to know which direction to roll each muscle in and how to put the right amount of pressure on.Â I mean, you can’t learn therapeutic massage in five minutes, let’s face it, but anything I can do at home to improve his cramps has got to be a good thing, right?
I can see more massage and hydrotherapy and possibly more drugs in Sid’s future as he gets older.Â A tripod can have a hard time as he or she ages, and the larger and heavier the dog, the more trouble they’re likely to have.Â Sid is unfortunate to be a large greyhound with a stocky frame, and while we’ve kept his muscles good and strong, this is a double-edged sword for him as well; on the one hand they keep him active and help him get around, but on the other, they add to his weight and the overdevelopment of certain muscle groups cause him to suffer cramps and spasms at times.
A cart might eventually be a solution, but we really don’t want to go down that route until we absolutely have to because then those lovely muscles will atrophy and he’ll lose bone density too.
Anyway.Â We’ll do everything we can to keep Sid happy, exercised and pain-free, and it looks as if Karen will be one of the people to help us do it!Â Thanks, Karen – I think Sid enjoyed his session with you!
Needless to say, Sid will continue to enjoy his hydrotherapy sessions with Wendy, too.Â So I’ll leave you with a video of him going for gold in the pool.Â Enjoy – Sid does!
* Except that grapes and raisins can be highly toxic to dogs so that wouldn’t really be an option in Sid’s case.Â Maybe a nice cube of cheese or ten, instead, huh?