Massages are not just for humans as Charlotte Pearson discovers.
When Les Ellam gets up in the morning it is fair to say he looks forward to starting work.
“I wake up and think ‘Great I get to see Lisa today or I may even get a kiss from Mary,” he laughs. “There aren’t many jobs you can get a kiss from your client and not get into trouble.”
Through Achy Paws, based in Saltdean, Les provides canine massages for pooches in need of some rest and recuperation.
“While a human will get a massage for a pamper, for animals it is a therapy,” explains Les. “It can used for a number of things to help a dog relax, to aid achy joints and arthritis.
“I have senior dogs who are 12 or 13 years old and it helps with their joints.
“After a session they will be jumping around the garden, and just be able to walk a bit easier.
“I also do palliative care. One dog only had three weeks to live, so I did a massage and showed the owner how to do it.
“Every day she did a ten minute massage, although she knew she wasn’t healing him she knew it was relaxing and alleviating the pain.
“The dog was really stressed and the massages helped to deal with that.”
Dogs are referred to Achy Paws by a vet or if someone wants their pet to receive a massage the vet has to sign a special form.
This means that any medical issues the animal may have Les is aware of and he can relay anything he finds back to the vet.
Les’ career started 15 years ago when he worked in human massage and sport therapy.
“We got a couple of dogs, who seemed to be having aches and pains,” he recalls. “I wondered if I could do the type of massage I would on a human on the dogs, but when I started I realised that the physiology of a dog is very different, so I did a basic induction course and went on to do a diploma.
“You need to know about the joints, muscle groups and bones to do a proper massage, otherwise you could just be massaging a pillow. You need to be aware of what you are doing.”
So four years ago Les set up Achy Paws.
“People thought I was bonkers,” he laughs. “When I’m at shows people see the sign and stop, but once I explain what I do people really get into it and understand what I am doing.”
Admitting it is ‘a fulfilling job’ Les adds that when it comes to animals you know if they like something or not.
“With a human if you ask if they like it they can say yes but could be lying,” he says. “A dog can’t lie, if they like it they will let you know by kissing you or many will roll over so you can massage another bit.
“I have one dog that when he sees the mat he is straight on it ready for his massage.”
Working with animals also means learning about a dog’s body language.
“If something hurts a human or it isn’t right they will tell you so you have to learn how a dog reacts,” he reveals. “If they don’t like something they may look away or try and move.
“Most dogs will sit there fine for 60 minutes, but I have one who would be there for 90 if he could. If I go to get up he will put his paw on my leg to stop me.”
Les also holds workshops which acts as an introduction to massage and can do one to one classes to show owners what to do.
“I work with the owner and the dog to do what I can for the animal,” he says. “We have two collie spaniel crosses which are twins, so we have to make sure we trained them.
“It is like with anything, you get what you put in, so I know I can’t cure a dog but I do my best to make them feel more comfortable.
“It is a lovely job, I get up every morning and can’t wait to get to work.”
Dr Les Ellam (BSc, PhD)
– Accredited canine myotherapist
– Body Massage IHBC IPTI
– Sports Massage IIST
– Reiki and Animal Healing
For more information, visit achypaw.com
May 10, 2016 Business and Investments