Helping old dogs not only heel, but heal
FARGO — A funny thing happens when your dog gets old.
You find yourself willing to try anything to somehow "cheat" the circle the life. Suddenly, you're plunking down money for any snake oil, therapy or $40,000 bionic hip that could potentially prolong her life.
Who can blame us? Dogs are pretty much the best thing on earth. They are angels, adoring children and wacky best friends all wrapped up in one furry package. So it makes sense that we struggle to accept the inevitable. Of course, we don't want them to suffer or — worst of all — leave us.
I've spent thousands on teeth-cleaning products and dental procedures. (Even so, she lost four teeth during her last scaling — including a front tooth that gives her the grin worthy of Burnsie.)
I've fortified her with everything from CBD oil and elk-horn supplements to hyaluronic acid for her aging joints. She has acupuncture treatments, in which they sedated her, poked her with acupuncture needles and then hooked up the needles to mild electrical current (it looked like they were jumpstarting a hairy car battery, but it did help).
I am not worried about our nation's economy. As long as there are puppies destroying carpets and senior dogs who need heart and lung transplants, Americans will keep spending.
My most recent experiment has been something called "Tellington T-Touch," which I stumbled across on Pinterest.
Developed as an offshoot of equine massage by a woman named Linda Tellington-Jones, it's basically a type of therapeutic touch that supposedly helps reduce pain, soothe distress and even enhance wellness. One website calls it a "holistic, whole-body" method that supports the "amazing brilliance" and "cellular intelligence" of the body.
When I read this, my eyes rolled up so far in the back of my head that I practically needed surgery to bring them back again. Perhaps T-Touch would also summon Kita's guardian angels to hop aboard unicorns and heal her with elfin magic and pixie wishes?
It sounded completely wackadoo. So, of course, I had to try it. I carefully and meticulously studied it (meaning I watched a couple of videos on YouTube) and then went to work. Essentially, the foundation of T-Touch is to use the fingers and hands to make tiny, circular movements all over the body. You then use various positions, pressures and patterns to massage the animal. We practiced a couple of specific techniques with bizarre names like the Python Lift, Noah's March and the Zebra Mussel Shimmy (OK, I made that last one up).
But here's the craziest thing of all: It actually seemed to work. Kita relaxed visibly, and even stretched out her body in certain ways to encourage me to continue massaging areas that were particularly stiff or painful.
We also tried a Tellington-sanctioned approach called the "T-wrap," in which you wrap up your dog like a sprained ankle to help them feel more secure. This made sense to me, as we already know gentle compression techniques like Thundershirts can soothe some anxious dogs.
Kita looked like a half-finished mummy, but I actually think she did seem calmer and walked more steadily with this extra harness of support.
So who knows? Maybe it is elfin magic or maybe it's even just the bonding time between owner and dog that helps the animals.
All I know is that she liked it, and — at this stage in her life — I want to try whatever makes her feel better. (If you want to learn more about it, go to www.ttouch.com.)