Case Study

Name: Spoofy
Breed: Great Dane
Age: 11 Years

Spoofy is 11 years old. For a Great Dane that is very old indeed. Spoofy’s mum Suzannah was very upset to see her lovely old girl struggling to walk. She hadn’t seen Spoofy wag her tail in such a long time and she knew Spoofy’s days were numbered as her quality of life was becoming so poor.

Spoofy’s Medical History

Spoofy’s vet had diagnosed a probable tear in the cruciate ligament of her left knee making her knee unstable. With generalised osteoarthritis and a systemic condition producing weight loss and anaemia, Spoofy’s condition meant that checking the state of her knee by X Ray or operating to repair the damage was not an option. All Suzannah could do was try and make Spoofy more comfortable.

My first visit to Spoofy

I visited Spoofy for the first time on 29th January 2012. As I watched her move around the house, I noticed she had splayed toes on her right side indicating she was carrying most of her weight on that side. She didn’t sit and if she laid down it would take her awhile to get back up again. Spoofy was happiest on her sofa, one of two!  Although Spoofy is comfortable with people, she wasn’t used to strangers trying to touch her in her own house so I took plenty of time to get to know her and establish a rapport before reaching out to touch her. My attitude to my canine clients is that I do everything at their pace so that they can relax in my company and work with me in making themselves better. During that first appointment, I massaged Spoofy on her sofa.
 This was novel, but I’m used to accommodating whatever it takes for the dog to be at ease. With Spoofy lying on the sofa however, meant I couldn’t get to her hind legs so I concentrated on the parts of her body that I could get to, mainly her back and front legs. When she became sleepy I knew we’d ‘made contact’ and she trusted me. I found Spoofy to have muscle wastage throughout her body and her backbone felt like a solid column of bone. There appeared to be no flexibility in it at all and seeing as the tail is a continuation of the spine, it was no wonder that she no longer wagged her tail – it was impossible for her!

Subsequent visits

When I returned two weeks later, Suzannah had a big smile on her face and some fantastic news for me “She ran around in the snow! I haven’t seen her do that since she was about 4!”  This time Spoofy laid on her dog bed, as opposed to her sofa, so I was able to give her a full body massage, including stretching and flexing each leg to improve the range of movement in her joints. On my third visit Spoofy met me at the door, wagging her tail! I guessed I had her vote of confidence now. 
At our 4th session Suzannah greeted me with “She’s brilliant. She dances around like a loon, I haven’t seen her like that for years”. 
I could see that Spoofy was walking very differently. She once again had that lovely long stride of her breed and she was picking up her feet, which meant I could no longer hear her nails scratching on the floor as she walked. As Suzannah and I were talking, Spoofy disappeared. We went to look for her and found her lying on her dog bed looking at us as if to say “come on Carole, I’m ready for my massage now, let’s get on with it”. She’s such a character! Since January, Spoofy has continued to receive massages every two weeks or so. 
I’ll leave the final comments for Suzannah:

“I have been truly amazed at the difference Carole has made to Spoofy. When she started the treatments Spoofy was stiff, had difficulty walking, but she transformed her within four weeks. She was able to run, do her little dances around her chews (think bucking lamb!) and generally moved well. She could even sit, which she never did before."
“I can’t recommend Carole and her canine massages highly enough, I can categorically say they work because poor Carole broke her ankle in August and Spoofy received no massages for a couple of months and slowly, but surely, Spoofy became lame and generally uncomfortable again. Thankfully, Carole’s ankle is on the mend so Spoof will soon be the recipient of massages again. Hooray!"