I don’t think anyone would ever accuse us of not paying
attention to our dogs. Most people, if they truly know what goes
on, secretly shake their heads and roll their eyes. I guess, at
times, things can get a little crazy. But then, I suppose there are
worse things you can be called than “those dog people.”
So it seems kind of silly for me to now be wondering why, all
these years, haven’t I been paying more attention to Ben?
Our oldest Lab, now creeping to the 15½-year mark, has always
been a favorite of mine and, ever since losing my Mom almost seven
years ago, he’s returned the affection. Of course, I would never
say he’s a typical dog, but he really is your typical,
I’m-old-but-I-don’t-know-it-yet dog. His mind can go anywhere it
wants, but his body often has trouble following. Years in the
pheasant and grouse fields have taken their toll on this Lab,
called by one of the country’s leading canine orthopedic
specialists a “great old athlete.”
Still, seeing that sparkle in his eye, and armed with a local
newspaper article about a local vet just opening an animal
acupuncture service, we thought “why not?” (I see those heads
shaking and eyes rolling already, but…. that’s okay).
We responded almost immediately and, long story short, the vet
moved away and we’re now under the care of Dr. Nate, a great
holistic vet in Vermont. (And it doesn’t hurt that he’s a Cornell
grad and fellow-Pennsylvanian). Dr. Nate has Ben on some herbs I’ll
never be able to spell and have an even harder time pronouncing. We
only travel once a month and Dr. Nate suggested that we supplement
the treatment with some acupressure at home. “We” has turned into
“me.” Steve is willing to try, but I don’t want to give up this
good thing! Besides, Ben and I have become a little bit closer –
hence the guilt that I didn’t start this 15 years ago.
I got ahold of a copy of “The Well-Connected Dog,” and we’re off
and running – really, Ben trots out to greet me when I come home
from work most days. That’s how much better he’s doing.
But it’s that 45 minutes to an hour every other night that has
really made the difference for us. He lays on his bed and rolls
over, just ready to begin. Sometimes he’ll sigh, sometimes he’ll
yawn and sometimes he’ll just pass gas (well, most times he does
that; I haven’t found the button to push to stop that, yet). As I
move through the suggested points – BL18, BL23, GB40, on down to
his toes, he’ll groan and slowly close his eyes until he’s
Every once in a while, I’ll hit a spot that’s a little sore and
his eyes will open wide or he’ll move away. Then we just go on to
the next spot or call it quits for the night with some gentle pats
and a belly rub.
Dr. Nate insists that I can’t hurt him during our “treatments,”
and that just being with him is doing a world of good.
He has no idea how true that is.
(Editor’s Note: “The Well-Connected Dog, A Guide to Canine
Acupressure,” is by Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis.)