Don’t you deserve to be as fit mentally as you are physically? More important, are you? Let’s talk about the importance of keeping your mind stimulated. Why should your family teach you new tricks? Why do you need new toys, and new experiences? There are ideas here for every pet, and every pet owner.
Your pet needs to exercise both body and mind. And you’re the one he looks to for the stimulation he needs. How can you teach an older pet new tricks? How can you give him new experiences, and help decrease the stress associated with boredom?
Let’s talk about pets and avoiding boredom. And because this is the petcentric café, everything is from your pet’s point of view.
When Pam Holt started working as a massage therapist, her business immediately went to the dogs. Literally. One of her first clients was a dog with a spinal injury. “That really scared me,” says the owner of Buddha Dog Animal Massage. “It’s why I became a registered veterinary technician – to make sure I was keeping pets safe and providing the right therapy.”
Pam has wanted to be an animal massage therapist since she first heard the term. “I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” she recalls. “I always massaged my animals, and I think it’s great that more people are doing animal massage.”
Working with her clients and volunteering with shelter pets, Pam has seen first-hand the benefits of her therapies. While most people associate massage with pain relief, the rewards don’t stop there. It can help increase flexibility, muscle tone and circulation, and encourage healing and the release of toxins. It can even help decrease the stress caused by boredom. “Boredom can be stressful for animals,” Pam says. “Massage can help decrease that stress by reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones that cause stress response.”
This is one reason why Pam derives such satisfaction from her volunteer work with shelter pets. “They are usually fearful, turning within themselves instead of out,” she says. “It’s amazing to see how much massage brings them out of their shells, so people can see how great they are.”
After a pet has found a forever home, massage continues to be a wonderful way to revive a pet’s body and spirit. “They feed on and respond to the love that you give them,” Pam assures. “It increases their trust and bond with you, because you’re making them feel good.” For this reason, she recommends that people massage their own pets. To help them learn how, she offers a free booklet that can be downloaded from her Web site.
For Pam, the biggest reward of animal massage therapy is when she sees improvement. “When I start working with a dog or cat who is badly off, seeing the positive change is so satisfying to me. I just love it when I hear about how much their energy is improved and that they’re walking better,” she explains.
Pam’s massage treatment is popular with both dogs and cats – including her own. “Some pets aren’t so sure about massage the first time,” she says. “Especially smaller dogs, who aren’t as trusting and take longer to calm down.”
This isn’t a problem for her own pets, all of whom are rescued from shelters. She is the proud guardian of two pit bulls, whom she describes as “the most docile breed I’ve ever seen.” Her “demo dog” for massage classes and events is a longhaired Dachshund named Shug. And her “miracle dog” is a 17-year-old American Bulldog named Grace. “I get to know these animals at the shelter,” she explains. “Grace was 14 when we adopted her. We knew it would be a short-term thing, but she amazes me every day.
Pam’s pets not only like massage, she adds that they expect it now. “They come over and plop right in front of me,” she says. No boredom here – just total relaxation.