There is always so much to learn in canine massage therapy

As a member of the Canine Massage Guild I am required to follow a certain number of days of continuous development program. This is an easy commitment for me as I love learning and I believe that however good or skilled someone is in a subjet, there is always more to learn and share with others. Someone lately described me as a “sponge” (!)…I still wonder if this was actually a compliment or not!

So two weeks ago I was back “down South” to Worcester for my second week of CPD for this year were I followed 4 days of advanced massage techniques and I loved the whole of it!

The two first days was all about release techniques for the ventral aspect of the dogs. To clarify, the ventral aspect means the area of the throat, pectoral, abdominal and ventral side of the hind legs of the dogs. These areas can easily be overlooked and some can be difficult to access, but when massaged with the right techniques by a knowledgeable person, it can bring tremendous relief to some dogs. The course was instructed by Natalie Lenton from the canine massage therapy centre who again blew me away, she can definitely make anatomy and massage come to life!

Mehwi acting as super model for Natalie

The second Course was two days of Canine Touch, with Emma Overend as instructor, from PawDimensions. The Canine Touch technique is a gentle bodywork designed to address the dog’s soft tissue with series of small moves set into specific procedures. There are so many way these moves can be incorporated into a massage therapy session.

Mehwi acting as super model for Emma

And I am not the only one who benefited from the week: Manouk and Mehwi were with me, acting as practice dogs and they loved it too! Look at them waiting eagerly for their turn! In fact, and I suspect you have already noticed with my two first photos, Mehwi ended up becoming the superstar model for both Natalie and Emma. This was a fabulous opportunity for him as he was just 3 week post operation for his elbow.

These techniques are of huge benefits for any dogs I will be treating in the future, in fact I started applying some as soon as I came back from my trip. I already wonder how I managed to live without them before!

These four days are just a small subset of my development program, I am currently studying to become an animal physiotherapist, I followed a 3 days classes on canine sport medicine in Zurich earlier this year and there are more to come before the next year, but this will be some another blog posts!

Just a few more photos for you to enjoy, I know I am no way as good as Iain to take photos, sorry!

Orthopeadic conditions in agility dogs

The talk from Scott Rigg about the most common orthopeadic conditions found in the agility dog finally took place on Friday 25/09 at Aberdeen Veterinary Referrals in front of a full house: it was apparently the highest attendance the clinic ever had for a talk and it was definitly a very motivated crowd.

On behalf of everyone who attended the presentation, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Scott and his team for their warm welcome at the clinic and for Scott’s willingness to spend time educating us about the subject. So many people mentioned how positively suprised they were by the high quality of the talk and how instructive the presentation was.

I would also like to thank AVR team for accepting to use the event for fund raising for the Oldies club, which is the charity the Canine Massage Guild is currently supporting, and for all the participants for their generous donation. I currently do not know how much we raised as the collecting tin will stay at AVR for a couple of more weeks.

Finally I would like to invite those who were present at the talk and would be interested by a follow up talk or / and workshop on a canine athlete conditionning to get in touch with me via CANINE Pawsibilties website.



Sheep Herding with Derek Scrimgeour

Well that’s is, the annual 4-day sheep herding clinic at CANINE Pawsibilities with Derek Scrimgeour is officially over and was as fun and instructive as usual!

When we started this clinic with Derek 6 year ago, we struggled to find 6 dogs and handler pairs to participate, this year there was 14 lucky border collies! This success is definitely the results of Derek’s passion, patience and enthusiasm to teach all of us, whatever our experience and background are, beginners, triallers, agilitists and farmers alike.

The clinic is a little bit of a family gathering including, Mehwi’s mum Lyn and Mehwi’s dad, Manouk, Mehwi’s brother Fionn, Mehwi’s half-brother Mozzie (Mehwi even met is young half-sister Ninja but she was too young to play with the sheep), Mehwi’s cousins Denny, Blue, Rosie and all his other friends!

Obviously no need to say that we have booked Derek for next year already and I hope that Mehwi and Ninja will be able to participate this time!

A subset of the photos taken by Iain on Sunday are posted below and if you really like herding action shots, another subset can be seen on Iain’s website.  For the participants, Iain took over 500 fabulous photos so next time you come to see us if you bring a usb stick and talk nicely to him, I am sure he will give you a copy of all the photos.


The walk I never want to forget

After 3 major operations, after being around 10 times under anesthesia (I stopped counting after a while) and endless hours…weeks…months… of cage rest, Mehwi has finally been allowed his first walk on Tuesday 7th of July. A day I don’t think I will ever forget!

Mehwi was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia at 14 months and had had both hips replaced a 4 months procedure which took 6 months due to some complication after the first surgery.

For those who take for granted a game of tug, a walk in the wood or just having your dog free in the house: remember that you are lucky!  It was so nice yesterday having him lying at my feet, going to be fed with the rest of the pack, watching him trying to play with Midge or just sitting his chin on my knee…I missed it so much!

The difficult part now is to take it easy and develop a rehabilitation program to get him back to what every young dog should be doing. It is going to be a new challenge, a new learning curve. I am looking forward to our first dog show and our first sheep herding day! Watch this space!




Orthopedic conditions and agility dogs: presentation by Scott Rigg

As many of you know, being an agility competitor and a canine massage therapist, I have a special interest in canine conditioning for sport dogs and rehabilitation after injuries.

I also believe that all of us, agility addicts, should be more informed about the risks associated with our passion so we can help our 4 legged athletes, who week after week take our breath away,  have the better (long) life they deserve.

I am therefore really happy that Scott Rigg, who is the advanced practitioner in small animal surgery from Aberdeen Veterinary Referrals  has accepted to do a presentation for us, the agility crowd, about the common orthopedic conditions that we may encounter with our agility dogs.  Scott is taking care of Manouk and Mehwi as well as some other abedonian agility dogs.

Date: The presentation will take place on the 25th of September at 19:00

Location: Aberdeen Veterinary Referrals in Foveran.

The presentation is limited to 40 people! Get in touch with me to reserve your space (choose Others as subject)- I will send a confirmation email to everybody who have a space reserved.

Cost: Free of Charge. Knowing how much time it takes to prepare such a talk it is an amazing gesture from Scott that I am sure all of you will appreciate!

Aberdeen Veterinary Referrals and CANINE Pawsibilities would be grateful if all the participants to this event were willing to show their appreciation for Scott’s effort by donating on the day to the oldies club. A collection tin will be available.

The oldies club is a registered charity that rehomes eldery dogs (number: 1118246).



Stage de Dog Agility en Ecosse et en Français

France-Flag (1)Aujourd’hui marque la fin de quatre superbes journées d’entrainement d’agilité franco-ecossaises à Canine Pawsibilities avec Claude, Eric, Laah, Mel et Reglys  qui ont parcouru une longue route depuis les Alpes françaises pour nous rejoindre!

En plus de superbes sessions qui nous ont permis de discuter des différences de parcours et de conduites entre les pays, nous avons aussi profité d’un superbe temps pendant les entrainements, un plus pour l’Ecosse!

L’équipe Claude et Mel, qui ont  tout juste commencé la compétition, ont travaillé sur leurs commandes verbales et la clarification des commandes gestuelles afin d’aider Mel à prendre plus de confiance en elle, tandis que l’équipe Eric et Laah, beaucoup plus expérimentée s’est attaquée daptée aux parcours britanniques et ont travaillé l’indépendance de Laah dans les slaloms et les entrées de tunnel.

Reglys , elle à 11 ans, a pris plaisir à nous montrer  qu’elle n’avait rien a envier aux connaissances techniques de ses deux sœurs !

Inclus dans les quatre jours, furent la decouverte des immenses plages et dunes de sable de Newburgh, des promenades côtières et des colonies de phoques et de fous de bassans.

Je tiens à souhaiter a toute l’équipe une bonne chance pour le reste de leur vacance avec bien entendu un arrêt obligatoire au Nord de l’Angleterre pour compléter leur formation de « bergers » avec Dereck Scrimgeour (Killiebrae sheepdogs).

Eric et Claude, amusez-vous bien et à très bientôt j’espère (avec du fromage, du chocolat et votre bomne humeur)!

C’est avec un plaisir immense que j’ai finalement pu admirer Eric et Laah au travail, Claude conduisant son premier border après des années de Bergers Belges, et retrouver Reglys, une petite chienne qui a toujours le sourire aux lèvres, la camarade d’entrainement de Midge et Mollo dans leurs années de jeunesse!

Ci joint encore une fois quelques souvenirs en image des entrainements.

Well  today is the end of four great day of international dog agility training at Canine Pawsibilities with Claude, Eric, Laah  Mel and Reglys who drove all the way from the French Alps to come to see us!

We had some fabulous dog agility training sessions with even some great weather for the training. In addition to the training and the socialisation it was a great opportunity to discuss about European versus UK courses and handling techniques.

Claude and Mel, who have only just started competing, worked on their verbal commands and the clarification of their body language to help Mel build some confidence,  whilst Eric and Laah who are much more experienced, accepted to be challenged by British type courses, independent weaving and unusual tunnel entries.

Reglys at 11 year old enjoyed some fun time on the agility equipment.

It was fun to be able to discuss the differences in course and handling between the continent and the UK (well let’s say Scotland!).

In between the training sessions they all discovered and enjoyed the sand beaches and sand dunes, the costal walks and the colonies of seals and gannets of our great North East costline.

I would like to wish them good luck for the rest of their vacation, they are now on their way to Cumbria for a sheep herding clinic with Derek Scrimgeour (Killiebrae sheepdog).

I really enjoyed to finally be able to watch Eric and Laah running together, they make a great team, seeing Claude finally running a collie after years of belgian shepherd, and last but not least, the smiley Reglys who used to be Midge and Mollo’s training partner during our French trips when they were (much) younger.

Have fun and see you soon (with more cheese, chocolates and sense of humour)!

See below some fabulous pictures of  one of the training sessions.


Forward Focus, The Doodle Way

When we teach agility to our dog we need our four legged partner to develop a good balance between handler focus and forward focus. One way to achieve the forward focus is the usage of toy or food. But catching the toy is not as easy as you may think! Watch Doodle in action in a “catch me if you can” game!



Happy Handlers Equal Happy Dogs

The recipe for success? A little bit of Scottish sunshine, a group of enthusiastic handlers and some lucky dogs! Well done to the 20 participants of Canine Pawsibilities first agility camp!  There was definitely some happy handlers making some very happy dogs over the two days! The final bonus are the beautiful photos taken by Iain on the Sunday in-between his own runs. Enjoy and see you all hopefully for the next camp!

Manouk in Bridge Vets news

I thought you may be interested by this very nice article from Scott Rigg, Manouk’s orthopedist surgeon from Bridge Vets, who managed the rehabilitation program of Manouk prior to Crufts: Click here to read Scott’s article – Manouk in the news.

For those of you who were not aware, in Octobre, Manouk fell from height and came lame. After 6 weeks of trying to help Manouk recover on my own, I realised that if I wanted to have the slightest chance to compete at Crufts I needed to involve Scott as soon as possible.

At the time I went to see Scott I was actually convinced Manouk’s agility career was definitely over this time.

What I really liked by working with Scott  was that he was totally opened and supportive to complementary therapy, I made sure that myself, as the canine massage therapist, and Manouk’s physiotherapist were communicating actively with Scott and that the 3 of us were working as a team under his advices.

This short article is the summary of a success story highlighting that collaborative work from multiple disciplines is beneficial for a faster recovery and rehabilitation after injury. We worked on a extremely tight deadline, the chance to make it Crufts were slim and I really needed to keep my focus on the objective.

It is also an acknowledgement that sometimes we are waiting too long before getting a specialist involved with our agility dog. I wished I had taken Manouk to Scott much earlier in the process. Also, the reeducation program that we sometimes try to put in place ourselves using our personal knowledge and understanding does not always suit the dog’s condition. I must admit I have learnt a lot over the few last months!

Well that was just some paws for thoughts that I hope may help some of you too. This “adventure! made my participation to Crufts very special as even just one week before the show I was still unsure if we would really be able to go!

Crufts, here we go!

After battling with an injury for the past 5 months, today is a special day. We have been given the go ahead from Manouk’s orthopaedist, Scott Rigg from Bridge Vets in Aberdeen, to compete in the agility championship at Crufts on Sunday!

This has been a long but interesting journey and I have learnt a lot, especially in how patient we have to be to rehabilitate an injured sport dog. The rehabilitation included a cross discipline program, with lead walks, canine massage therapy, core stability exercises, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, with Scott regularly assessing the progress. In fact we have done barely any agility.

So that’s it then, I now have 4 days to remind myself how to run an agility course. This is definitely a scary thought! And unless something unexpected happens, in 5 days we should be heading to the arena. A dream come true, an even more special dream after having to fight so many odds this past few months.

Scott, thank you for your patience and support in getting Manouk back on track, I realise the journey with Manouk’s rehabilitation is not over but we would not have been where we are today without you. I really appreciate how available you have been for us (in addition to your expertise of course!) despite the busy schedule of your clinic.

Finally, good luck to all my friends participating to Crufts, especially my Scottish fellow competitors. Even if I have a weird accent, I am a Scottish agilitist after all and proud to be!


PS: Some of you asked if it was possible to watch Crufts online. There is an official YouTube Crufts channel and in the past year there have been a good coverage of the main arena. If you have time, I would advise you to watch the international agility which is held on the Saturday and support our Scottish Agility Dog of the year (2014) team Alan Short & Bruce. There will be 3 rounds, 2 qualifying rounds and one final round, running respectively at: 11:30: qualifying jumping round; 14:00: qualifying agility round; 17:10: final

The championship agility is held on the Sunday: 09:00: qualifying jumping round; 11:00: qualifying agility round; 16:55: final