Working Dogs And Massage
Working Dogs Need Love Too!
I love working dogs - Search and Rescue dogs, K-9 dogs, Seeing Eye dogs...the list goes on and on. All dogs loving, loyal and give us unconditional love - but these dogs go one step beyond. They are here for us, to help us in our daily lives. They work harder than most people I know to help their humans work to help others or, in some cases, to help their human regain their life back after an illness or injury. So it goes without saying that these dogs deserve massage more than most.
Let us consider, for instance, the search and rescue and K-9 dogs. These dogs train from the time they are small. There may be something about them that the trainer realizes is truly unique and special. They go through grueling physical and mental practices to make sure that they are truly the best of the best. We saw this during the aftermath of September 11th. These dogs would go in fearlessly, paws burnt, inhaling smoke, ash, and God knows what else, all to find just one human being alive. They work for hours and hours without pay, without reward - perhaps a chew on a squeaky toy. The work is hard. K-9 dogs, along with their partner, chase the bad guys, sniff out bombs and drugs, and help to keep us safe along with the officer they work alongside. Let's not forget Seeing Eye dogs - these dogs work alongside their owner 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure they have all the help they need. And let's not forget Therapy dogs who bring joy to those in hospitals and nursing settings around the world. What about Helper dogs who help their owners who may be paralysed or need some other assistance. These dogs are truly lifesavers, working hard everyday, asking for nothing in return.
Walking long hours on concrete, leaning into a harness, clambering over rubble, jumping up to retrieve or deposit objects and working their way through crowded baggage terminals, walking the halls of hospitals - any one of these activities day after day can result in injury, chronic physical issues or low-level stress in many working dogs. Massage can help keep working dogs moving comfortably, prevent injury and coutneract "background stress" adding to the dogs' job satisfaction and possibly even prolonging their careers.
Working dogs are expected to have a well-developed physique to be able to perform the work they are trained to do. A lot of time and money is spent on training a clever and efficient dog. However, no matter how well we take care of our dogs, injuries still may occur. If the injury is related to the muscles, tendons, joints or ligaments, a vet or massage therapist may be able to help. We can help prevent muscle related problems and strain injurires by massaging and stretching our dogs regularly. This keeps the dog well-balanced physically and psychologically, allowing it to possibly retain the agility of a young dog to an advanced age.
Injury or strain can cause discomfort or pain. Pain, in turn, causes further tension and reduces the blood flow even more. A vicious circle arises and can persist for some time if it is not discovered and treated. For working dogs, this is especially dangerous as they tend to mask their pain, as they are so eager to work.
Massage affects all body systems:
- Increased circulation provided nutrients and the removal of toxins
- Coat quality is improved through dispersion of natural oils
- Skin exhibits more elasticity and less dryness
- Oxygen levels are increased and respiration is improved
- Muscles are relaxed and toned
- Nervous system function is enhanced
- Digestion and elimination are improved
- Reduction in pain through release of endorphins
- Provides a sense of well-being and enhances disposition
Working dogs are exposed to physical and mental stress daily and regular massage decreases their stress levels and keeps their muscles in top shape.
As you can see, canine massage can be a wonderful tool in keeping working dogs happy, healthy and fit. For many organizations across the country and the world, this is not considered a luxury but a necessary tool to keep working dogs in top shape. If you work with working dogs, why not suggest it to someone you work with? The benefits for the dogs, and yourself, would be tremendous.
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