Testimonial from Amanda Glynn about Fifi Chihuahua

My dog FiFi, a ten-year-old terrier/Chihuahua mix has had three sessions of myotherapy at the Galen Centre, and it has made a huge difference in her health and personality!

Physically, the most visible change is that FiFi’s “dowager’s hump” at the base of her neck has decreased in size dramatically.  Her neck measurement went from 31.5 cm to 26.5 cm in the course of a month, and we had to put her back in her puppy collar.  Thanks to the hump’s disappearance, she can now hold her head in a more natural, relaxed position.  Her nose, which was always so dry that it needed lotion to keep it from cracking, has become wet and smooth.  Her rear legs are actually a different shape; they used to look like lollipops, with a huge ball of muscle at the top mounted on little sticks, and now they taper a lot more gradually to the knee.  Decreased pain levels have enabled her to exercise more often, with the result that she has lost almost three pounds (bear in mind that she only weighed twelve in total, so that is a large amount!).

FiFi’s movement style also reflects the changes myotherapy has created internally.  She used to “prance” like a trotting hackney-gaited horse when she walked.  On cold and rainy days, her movement would get extremely exaggerated, like a Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horse, and she would lift her feet so high that she looked uncoordinated and even spastic.  She frequently limped on her right-front foot, as well.  Now has a much more normal, doglike way of walking with a four-beat gait, and her limp shows up only rarely, after overexertion.  As stated above, she also enjoys moving a lot more, which has been great for her overall health.  She even asks to play fetch by bring me her soft toys and lets her younger “brother” (another dog) play-wrestle with her, which she hasn’t done since last summer.

FiFi’s daily habits have also changed noticeably.  She used to chew on her front legs from the time she woke up in the morning until she went to sleep at night – so much so, that she had stained the fur there and even worn it away a bit.  When she began treatment, this transformed into licking the base of her rear thighs.  After the second myoptherapy session, this new behaviour died out as well.  At the time of writing, roughly two weeks after her third treatment, I’ve only seen her chew her front legs twice, and then only briefly on very cold, wet days.  FiFi also has an easier time defecating, having to walk around less in mid-action to keep things moving.  She spends less time huddled in her crate during the day, and when she goes to sleep, she often stretches out as though she’s truly relaxed instead of curling into a tight little ball as she did before.

For me, though, the most rewarding part of FiFi’s myotherapy experience has been her renewed interest in physical contact.  She has never been a “cuddly” dog, but for the last three or four years, she has been largely unwilling to be held or petted.  She avoided petting by hiding in her crate where we couldn’t reach her.  More troublingly, she would growl, snap, and sometimes even bite when I had to pick her up.  I quickly learned not to pick her up if at all avoidable, but there are situations where it’s necessary (grooming, administering medication, etc.), and it wasn’t fun.  She looks like a sweet little lap-dog, and most people want to pet her and hold her on sight, so we always tell our guests before they come into the house: “Whatever you do, even if it seems like she wants you to, DO NOT pick up FiFi.”

I thought this was simply her personality combined with aging, but I now realize it was because human touch was uncomfortable, even painful, for poor FiFi.  Since her treatments, she has become increasingly willing to be petted and handled.  After her second treatment, she absolutely floored me by spontaneously pawing to be picked up.  Now she gets on my lap for 10-30 minutes every day.  She even lets me do our “massage homework” on her…sometimes.  This may not sound like much to the owner of the average snuggle-bug dog, but to me it’s a miracle!


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