Like many older dogs, Princess was finding it difficult to walk or play. Her person worried that she was losing her zest for life. Read what happened next…
The black and tan dog walked with mincing steps into my office, her lower back rounded as if in pain. Janet, tall and red-haired, told me that she had rescued the pup eleven years ago and promptly named her Princess. Janet explained that Princess, who looked like a cross between a Beagle and a German Shepherd, used to be a happy and active dog. Each morning, she would stand by Janet’s bedside, leash in mouth, begging for a walk. Janet always agreed.
But about a year ago, Princess started to tire on her walks, and they would return home early. Eventually, Princess stopped asking to go for walks, and even looked away if Janet suggested one. Now, the black and tan dog only went outside to relieve herself or to lie in the sun.
Even a strong pain reliever doesn’t put the spring back in Princess’ step.
Janet mentioned that Princess’ back had begun to get a rounded appearance a few years ago. Since it was a gradual change and her dog didn’t appear to be in any pain, Janet wrote it off as a harmless aspect of aging.
But when her dog’s ability to walk declined, Janet took her to a veterinarian. The vet suspected a spinal problem and prescribed medication to reduce pain and inflammation. While the dog walked a little easier when on the medicine, her rounded back, lack of energy and unwillingness to go on walks remained.
The dog’s restricted ribcage likely contributed to her stiff, rounded back.
After getting Princess settled on the large, comfortable mat in my office, I used my hands to feel how her body worked.
I noticed that Princess’ ribcage did not move freely. An all-too-common occurrence in dogs, horses and humans, it can contribute to movement restrictions and pain. When the ribcage doesn’t freely move, other parts have to work harder, which leads to increased strain on joints and muscles throughout the body. It was certainly possible that this played a role in the development of Princess’ stiff, rounded lower back.
With this in mind, I used my fingertips to lift and support the dog’s soft tissue, moving in a gentle rhythm all along Princess’ ribcage and spine. This helped relax the dog and served to bring her ribcage and spine back into her awareness. With Princess now in a calm, learning state, I delicately moved her ribcage and limbs in various ways so that she could feel how coordinating the movement of her sternum and ribs could make moving her back and hind legs easier. The movements were extremely small and delicate; just enough for the brain to notice the new sensations.
At the end of our session, Princess’ back had become noticeably straighter and she walked with a longer stride. I smiled as the formerly somber dog left my office with a wag in her tail and a light in her eyes.
Princess moved and acted like a younger, happy dog again!
Janet called me the next day to happily report that Princess woke her up the next morning with her leash in her mouth! Janet was thrilled to take Princess on a walk again.
I gave Princess a few more Debono Moves sessions to support the progress she had made. Just as importantly, I taught Janet some basic Debono Moves so that she could help her beloved dog continue to feel rejuvenated in her senior years.
These same concepts work for humans too! If you would like to experience how a freer ribcage can lead to a more comfortable, flexible spine, you can do our exercise, Easier Bending on the Back. You can play this exercise right here.
And one more thing…my upcoming book, Grow Young with Your Dog, explains in illustrated detail how you can help yourself and your dog feel better at any age. I’ll keep you posted through this newsletter when the book is available. I’ll also be giving out free training videos so that you can help yourself and your dog right away. If you share this newsletter, please encourage your friends to sign up so they don’t miss out on all the freebies. Thank you!
Would you like to be able to help yourself and your dog feel better – at any age?
I’m teaching an introductory Debono Movesworkshop in San Diego on September 27, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The fee is only $35 and light refreshments will be served. You’ll leave your dog at home for this class.
You can register online here. Space is limited, so please act now if you wish to attend. I hope to see you there!