Few things in life are better than a good massage. The worst of days can become a blessing in the hands of an expert masseuse.
The same goes for swimming. A nice dip in the pool is not only relaxing, but can also be therapeutic.
This is not only true for humans. Dogs seem to enjoy it also.
Just ask Krista Doyle, a professional dog masseuse who lives in Roanoke.
“I have always loved dogs. When I was a teenager, I apprenticed with a veterinarian, and after a year had passed, I decided I wanted to work with the outside of the dog instead of the inside,” Doyle said.
“Many years later (2001), when I was in school to learn massage therapy, I had to do a class project and asked if I could present ‘canine massage’ and bring my dog to demonstrate techniques.”
Fast forward 10 years. Doyle was leaving a career in Human Resources to take the plunge into self-employment as a full-time massage therapist. She then flashed back to that time in school and decided it was the perfect time to officially learn canine massage, so she headed to Chicago with her dog Sunny.
Sunny is a story all to herself as Doyle has written several books about her.
Doyle soon learned that, while dogs do indeed love a good massage, not all are going to just sit or lie still, especially the more active ones. Also, many dogs receiving massages are entered in competition, and as such get special treatment, she said.
“I began to go to agility trials, because I quickly learned that the competitors recognize that their dogs are also athletes. They are willing to provide whatever care/support is necessary to keep their canine partner in top shape,” she said.
Swimming offers more dog benefits
Doyle had a desire to do even more with dogs, and so the inspiration to swim them was born.
“An agility friend mentioned that her vet had a pool, and after a visit, he agreed to let me use it to swim dogs,” she recalled. “I swam there for four years before we put a pool on our property.
“Massaging and swimming are both wonderful for dogs and have complementary benefits. Massaging loosens up tight muscles and knots, and aids in good circulation. Swimming is great for cardiovascular health and strengthens/tones muscles.”
Doyle noted that while canine massaging is similar in technique to human massaging, the difference is the pressure.
“For dogs, less is more. Just as a horse can feel a fly on their skin, a dog is sensitive to touch,” she explained. “In the business, we call it ‘touch with intent’ because as soon as I begin a massage, the dog knows that I am not merely petting it. For that reason, the first time I work on a dog, I take extra time. The dog is trying to figure out what I am doing.
“After the first massage, dogs know what to expect and love getting on the massage table.”
Swimming, however, is a much different activity. She is always in the water with the dog, so it is an “assisted swim,” even if the dog is an excellent swimmer.
Among the reasons to swim dogs are introducing puppies to water; arthritis, aching joints/muscles for older dogs; conditioning for fun with active dogs; and post-surgery exercise for some dogs. And, of course, just plain ol’ having a good time splashing around.
Laurie Johnson, who has been a client of Doyle’s for many years, has seen her dogs experience this with both her aging/now passed away German shepherd along with her current young shepherd.
“She gently encouraged my shepherd to come out onto the ramp and into the water. She is so patient, and her bubbly personality can get anyone in the water, including myself,” Johnson said.
To learn more about North Texas Canine and Aquatics, visit northtexascaninemassage.com or on Facebook under the same name.
Inspiring tales of Sunny
An avid reader since her youth, Doyle wanted to tell the story of how a beautiful white dog showed up at her house and became a loving companion.
In 2017, she wrote her first book, titled “Sunny.” The book included many feelings and emotions as it described her experiences of joy and happiness to sorrow and loneliness.
Doyle followed up that up with “Sunny and Tug Go to the Beach,” which was released in 2019. He picked up where the first one left off. Sunny and Doyle, along with her new dog Tug, were going on a day trip to the ocean.
Sunny died in February 2021 at age 15. She touched many lives, and her story continues. Doyle has written the third and final book in the trilogy, “Sunny Goes to Heaven,” released in 2022.
“It is a book of hope, and will uplift the reader as they learn what Sunny’s new mission is in Heaven,” Doyle said.
The books are available on Amazon.