Tag Archives: canine massage

I’m thankful

On Thursday, Americans will celebrate another Thanksgiving Day.  There will be lots of food, family gatherings, parties and – hopefully – if you take the time to observe the true reason for the holiday – you will pause and give thanks for what you have been able to achieve and have been given over the last year.

I’m in New Zealand.  We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (although I wish we did, because I think New Zealand is a great place to live and we are endowed with so much in terms of quality of life.  It wouldn’t hurt us to stop and take a moment to give thanks.)

I am thankful and here’s why:

  • I work in a field that I am passionate about.  Yes, I have worked hard to establish my practice, but I am grateful that the effort has paid off.
  • My customers trust me to work in their homes with their dogs.  I am always aware that, as an in-home specialist, I am entrusted not only with the dog’s care but also access to homes.  You can’t get more personal than that.  I am grateful for the opportunity that these dog owners have given me.
  • My work enables me to travel and meet other people who work with dogs, too many of these dogs are homeless and in need of care.
  • My work also allows me time to visit with my family overseas and we are able to spend quality time together.
  • I have friends, most of whom are also dog people, and they give me support when I need it.  Like recently, when Izzy was hurt and she needed looking after during the work day.  My friend Marie stepped up to do this for me.  (My friends, Izzy and I also do fun dog things together – like beach walks and visits to dog-friendly cafes.)
  • Izzy, my greyhound, is healthy.  Although she is aging, she is aging gracefully and still loves to be my demo dog at workshops and public events.  When the weather is cooler, she also travels with me and visits with the customers.  She’s a true ambassador for canine massage and natural care.
  • People engage with me on Facebook, through this blog, and through the columns I write for NZ Dog World.  I love to write and it is satisfying knowing that people like you are reading what I have to say and to share and take the time to get in touch.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day please take the time to give thanks – even if you are not in a country that officially celebrates the day.

Remember to hug your dog, too!

Izzy resting

Obligatory photo of Izzy, The Balanced Dog’s demo dog and mascot.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand


Love me, massage me

I have started a new campaign that will run through to the end of the year to help me promote the benefits of canine massage.  The Love Me, Massage Me campaign is fairly straightforward:  each of my customers will receive a  printed bandana like this one:


Tamzin the Pug models her Love Me Massage Me bandana

And then they can post photos of their dogs onto my Facebook page and their own with the hashtag #lovememassageme.  There are no limits to the number of entries per dog.

The winner will receive a massage every 3 months during 2019; there’s also a second and third prize.

Since I teach owners to massage their dogs using a relaxation massage sequence incorporating acupressure points, I’m happy if the dogs are being massaged by their owners and not just me.

I think every dog should be massaged regularly to support health and wellness.

Wish me luck!  #lovememassageme

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand


Dog massage etiquette – the therapist

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about dog massage etiquette lately.  That’s because I pride myself on running a professional practice; I have committed to ongoing professional development, and I want my clients to value professional canine massage.

Lucy relaxed at massage

Here is what clients can expect from me:

  • I will be prepared to focus on your dog and his/her issues; this includes listening carefully to what you have to say
  • I will operate only within my scope of practice
  • I will keep notes that, on request, can be sent to your dog’s veterinarian or any other practitioner you choose as part of your healthcare team
  • I encourage and endorse regular veterinary care; I often say that your dog’s vet is its GP (General Practitioner or, in United States terms, ‘The Primary Care Physician’)
  • I will turn up on time and manage my appointments so that clients are not kept waiting and, when I am running late (which happens as a mobile practitioner), I will call you
  • If I ever use an assistant, and they are not fully qualified to the level that I am, you will be told you are seeing an assistant and have the option to opt out and reschedule with me personally if you prefer.  If you agree to use the assistant, you can expect to be charged a lower hourly rate
  • I will always offer suggestions with the best interest of the dog in mind; the decision to take up my suggestions rests with you as the dog’s owner
  • I will keep your records private (your dog’s records are a form of private information under the Privacy Act)
  • Clients often chat to me when I’m working and I appreciate their trust.  Anything you tell me will be kept in confidence.  If I write about a case, it will be described in generic terms to preserve privacy.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Spreading the word about dog massage

Dog massage??? What???!!!!

I get this fairly often; it doesn’t bother me.

One of the best ways I have found to give dog owners (and their d0gs) a bit of a taste for what I can do for them is to attend public events.  This weekend, I participated in the first annual Bark in the Park at Ferrymead Heritage Park.  The historic park was opened to dogs and their families to enjoy for the day.

Dogs rodethe trams, had posters printed for them on the authentic printing press, attended a blessing of the animals ceremony and were treated to frozen slushies made with chicken stock.  There was a series of guest speakers, including me.

I was consistently busy throughout the day at my stall as dog after dog came to see me for massage.  Dogs of all sizes, too!

Here are a few snaps from the day:

Every dog enjoyed their massage and owners were surprised at how quickly their dog relaxed and got into ‘the zone’ (as I call it).

Lesson for the day:  don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  If you are a local Canterbury resident who missed out on Bark in the Park, the event is likely to become an annual one.  And you can always reach me here at The Balanced Dog to discuss your dog and how massage, laser, trigger point and food therapies can help your dog.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The blessing and curse of a thick file

I keep paper records in my massage practice; sometimes the time-tested way is the best.  I use diagrams as well as text in my treatment notes, something that is hard to do on a laptop or tablet without wasting a lot of contact time with the client.  I’ve also lost count of the number of times I’ve traced back through notes in discussion with an owner.  Being able to lay out these notes in sequential order is much more powerful than huddling over a computer screen.

And, as the end of the year approaches and I reflect on progress made during the year, I start to take note of the thickness of some of my files.  These are dogs that have been with my practice for a while – usually more than a year and often much longer than that.file-folder

The thick file is both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing because the owners of these wonderful dogs have allowed me to work with their animal regularly, and I get the satisfaction of seeing them make progress and stay healthy through a wellness program that changes as their needs change.  And I also get the satisfaction of playing a part in giving these dogs and their owners quality time together.

It’s a curse because it’s a sure sign that the dog is getting older.  The passage of time becomes more pressing; we are all aware that the dog is aging and slowing down. And as much as we want to keep them with us forever, our window of quality time is closing.

For some of my dogs, this will be their last Christmas.  Their families will ensure it is a good one.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The benefits of stretching

Dog doing morning stretches

Vera does her morning yoga (photo by Jenny Hamilton)

I remember watching a yoga video years ago where the instructor described the act of stretching as ‘making space in the joints.’

As a canine massage therapist, I think stretching is essential.  It lengthens muscles in a controlled and safe way to ensure good range of motion in the limbs and it helps to maintain blood flow to essential soft tissues.

As our dogs age, or when they are injured, then often need help with stretching (the same is true of people).  That’s where professional massage comes in – someone to help warm and stretch the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Owners can also learn to stretch their dogs; it’s something I include in special massage workshops for greyhound owners.  I’ve found that greyhounds, with their sleek builds and racing instinct, often tighten up when in a pet home or when they don’t get regular off-lead exercise.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand


Teaching others the benefits of dog massage

Last weekend, I held my first dog massage workshops in five years.  These half-day workshops cover my own 12-step relaxation massage sequence for dogs along with the basics of gait analysis, senior dog care and keeping records on lumps and bumps.

Today, I received this text:

“Hi, Coffee and I came to your massage class last weekend and, when we were doing hands on, I noticed a golf-ball sized lump on her.  I took her to the vet and they have operated and removed it, so just wanted to say thanks as would not have come across it if it wasn’t for your class.”

I can’t wait to do more workshops on a variety of holistic dog care topics…and I am so happy that Coffee’s lump was found in time – all because of massage.

And here are some photos from the weekend:





















Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand