Victorian teaches gentle touch for canines (w/video)
By BY NICOLE COBLER - SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE
Jan. 2, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.
Five giant Irish wolfhounds keep Sue Furman company around the house.
They are happy dogs - they should be. After all, Furman massages one dog each day, sometimes up to 45 minutes.
Furman, 70, of Victoria, said her interest in canine massage therapy began when she owned a German shepherd that developed arthritis. Although massaging cannot cure arthritis, Furman said it can make the dog much more comfortable.
Some may be skeptical about canine massage, assuming that it's just like petting your dog, but Furman said the techniques are much different.
"It's fine to pet your dog, and that creates a great bond, but when you massage your dog, you're petting with a purpose," Furman said. "You should massage your dog with an intent to either relax the dog or promote healing."
Furman moved to Victoria in the spring and in September taught a daylong canine massage class at the Texas Zoo in Victoria. She does not have plans to offer the classes again, but she has online classes available.
The classes are for anyone interested in massaging their own dogs.
Jackie Pinson, 60, took Furman's online class in canine massage therapy and drove from her home in Grand Prairie, near Dallas, to get hands-on training with Furman.
Pinson now owns her own business in Dallas called Canine Pawsitive Touch - Massage and Wellness Therapy and volunteers at the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas to reduce the stress of greyhounds that used to race or were abused.
Pinson said canine massage can reduce stress and anxiety, speed up recovery and loosen muscles. She said she took the class because she thought Furman's in-depth science background would be helpful in learning canine massage techniques.
"It increases their circulation," Furman said. "That in itself helps relax the dog, and if they have a problem, it helps bring more blood to that area and refresh those tissues."
The massage techniques work on dogs from a tiny Chihuahua to a huge Irish wolfhound, she said.
In her book, "Canine Massage for the Athlete in Every Dog," Furman introduces the reader to six types of massage moves and different types of stretching for their furry friend.
The techniques, Furman said, can help dogs that are uncomfortable because of arthritis or have been mistreated and are now living in shelters.
"Some of these animals have never felt a kind touch, and all of a sudden they realize, 'Oh, people can be nice,'" Furman said. "This makes them much more adoptable."
Furman went to animal shelters when she lived in Colorado to help abused dogs feel more comfortable.
She said if someone is really interested in doing something good for dogs, she wants to do everything she can to help them accomplish that.
"I love working with people, and I especially like working with people who like animals, so it makes it that much better," Furman said. "I have a lot of fun doing it."