If only they could talk... The Guide's Voice

If you've followed my blog, you've probably learned that I love reading, writing, coffee, chocolate, and dogs. When a dog looks sad or hurt or scared, I always ponder, "If only they could talk." But author Susan E. Davis does more than wonder. She knows  the voice of a wounded pet, how to listen , how to hear and how to guide the pet and owner too.Today I'm delighted to welcome her to my blog, with a post about real animals, real owners, real healing, and that "Guide's Voice."

The Guide’s Voice, by Susan E. Davis, PT

“…..but they (the animals) can’t tell you where it hurts, how can you help them?”

                                   “I’ll be able to tell, they will let me know”.   My hands glide palpating gently, carefully along the rabbit’s body.  A slight rotation of a lop ear, a quiver below the skin. Here it is. A hip, inflamed and out of alignment. An easy fix.

A Great Pyrenees stands rigid, staring straight ahead, unsure of what is coming. 
“….but how can you work with him when he won’t cooperate and lie down?

                                 “We’ll just start here as he is. He will relax when he’s ready”.  I talk to the dog, show him the laser, “here, sniff it first, see?” I apply the light to his surgical scar, and then massage it slowly. Soon his breathing slows, his tail lowers, and he sits.  I continue on, speaking softly, explaining the procedure to the client, including the dog by name every few seconds. Now the dog is lying down on his side, head on my thigh.  The healing begins.

“…I don’t know how you’ll work with my cat; he doesn’t like anyone but me”

                        “It’s okay; he doesn’t have to like me, just the treatment.  The tuxedo feline lies in the windowsill, head turned away, ignoring me. I choose a ‘hand’s off’ technique, using pulsed electromagnetic waves from a loop placed gently next to his leg. A few minutes later he accepts a light scratch to the back of his head, another at the top of the rump. Now some massage strokes over the calf muscle, then a stretch to the Achilles tendon. Then I spot it, the slow sine-wave sweep of his tail. Next I feel it, the inner rumbling of his motor, the contented purr. He likes it.

The soft-coated Wheaton terrier has had surgery to repair a torn ligament. 

“I spent two thousand dollars to have this fixed and now she won’t put her leg down!”

                 “Don’t worry, she will”.  The dog is friendly and enjoys attention.  Her fur is shaved, electrodes applied to the skin, stimulating impulses contract the atrophied muscles. Range of motion exercises and massage are applied.  The leg is ready. The dog stands, but still holds the operated limb up.

“I told you, she just won’t put her leg down!!!”  “Money spent for nothing!”

                 “She will, she just has to re-learn” I gently lift one of her front paws to shake; her body instinctively shifts backward, the operated rear leg touches down!

“Oh thank god!” “She did it! But will it stay that way after you leave?”

                 “Here, let me show you what to do until the next therapy visit.”  I hold a favorite treat near the dog’s right ear, the side of the operation.  She turns her head to fetch the treat. Her body shifts to the right and the back leg touches down, and stays down.

And there are more encounters, Countless more.  A decision is made to write a book but should it be a textbook for veterinary professionals? No, for the pet owner, the consumer, that’s it.  Is it “Animal PT for Dummies?  No. It must be a guide that gives technical info without talking over heads nor dummy it down.  The right tone must come through.

Ultimately it’s the guide’s voice that comes through: talk to the reader like you talk to your clients. Weave in actual stories to make it come to life. Choose well.   
She is Chardonnay, a Weimaraner and long-term patient, afflicted with neurological and cardiac problems. Her treatment has been less rehabilitative and more as supportive. Her owner makes an urgent call.

     “She’s failing.  I think it might be her time.  Should I take her to the vet? Can you come? I need to know what to do.

     I come. The dog is calm but has lost the light in her eyes.  “Yes I think she is ready to leave us.  It will be easy for her, but hard for you.  

     ………“but how do I do this?”

      The guide’s voice answers: “through love, friend.”

And this reader almost cries in memory of much-loved four-legged friends... Thank you so much for this lovely post Susan, and for visiting my blog.

You can find Susan's book on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Physical-Therapy-Rehabilitation-Animals-professional/dp/0989275000 and the look inside feature will let you see what a great book it is. Meet Limpy and Jasmine, and learn about physical therapy for animals...

About the book:

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals is an essential guide that helps a pet owner navigate the veterinary physical therapy and rehabilitation field throughout their animal¹s lifespan. Topics include: finding a qualified therapist, getting started, what to expect on the initial visit, goal setting, treatment intervention plans, anatomy, and descriptions of a wide variety of conditions affecting the pet in the areas of Orthopedics, Neurology, Oncology, Metabolic Illness, etc.  The book also addresses interesting topics such as Seniors/Geriatrics, Arthritis, Injury Prevention, Sports and Athletic animals, Stem Cell Procedures, Reiki, Braces and Splints, Wheeled Carts and Artificial limbs, etc.  Numerous patient case studies and anecdotal stories covering over 5 animal species are interspersed throughout the book.

About the author:

Susan E. Davis is a New Jersey Licensed Physical Therapist with over 36 years of clinical experience, who transitioned from human practice to working with animals. She owns and operates Joycare Onsite, LLC, formed in 2008, providing Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation services exclusively to multiple animal species: in the pet’s home, farm, in clinics, animal shelters, and a zoo. She currently provides pro-bono services once per week to the Monmouth County SPCA and prior to that at Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park Animal Clinic. Susan has been a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and its Animal Rehabilitation Special Interest Group and also belongs to the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO). In 2004, she received the Monmouth- Ocean NJAWBO Business Woman of the Year Award, and is currently a nominee for a Northwestern University Alumni Community Service Award. In addition to clinical practice, Susan is a writer and author, public speaker and consultant.


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