DEAR DR. FOX: I want to share with you a story about how your book has changed the lives of my dogs and friends as well.
A few years ago, I became certified in animal massage. I wanted to help people. What I found was that vets considered me a last option. My first patient was a German shepherd, Jake, who was hit by a car. He had surgery to repair a broken hip and leg, but after he healed, he would not walk on his front legs, so his poor owner carried this very large dog in a sling to go potty. The vet gave up on Jake, so he gave his owner my number. I brought the dog into my home, and with the knowledge from my training and your book "The Healing Touch for Dogs," after three days, Jake walked to his owner, and now they are hiking again. Jake is doing great.
I never thought that I would need this information for my own dog, a Chihuahua-mix named Nitro. He has luxating patella in both knees, and he was clocked at 35 miles an hour at a full run. (That was before I found out he had the trick knees.) I stopped his running and worked on his knees, popping them in when they went out. It's been quite some time since I have had to put his knee back in.
I just want to thank you for your book -- I have read it so many times now that the spine of the book is broken and I have to super glue it together. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for the work you do. -- E., Bend, Oregon
DEAR E.: Many thanks for your communications and for confirming the remarkable benefits of massage therapy for dogs. My two books, "The Healing Touch for Dogs" and "The Healing Touch for Cats," have helped many animals in many countries -- they have even been translated into other languages. I wrote the books some years ago after training in human massage therapy, receiving certification and then applying various principles and techniques to animals. Updated versions are available from Harper Collins.
DEAR DR. FOX: A few years ago, we adopted a German shorthair-Weimaraner mix from the local Animal Protective Association. He seemed a bit sickly and very wild when I drove him home. I attributed both to his former owners.
We have a wonderful vet who helped us restore our little guy's health, but our pup is still a wild thing in the car. He loves to get in the car, but the whining, pacing and eventual barking happens each time the car moves. I tried sprinkling lavender in the car and having a person sit in the back with him to try to calm him. We've used the Thundershirt and the Calming Cap. He will wear both in the house without complaint or impulse to remove them, but he'll thrash around in them in the car. We bought a crate and put it on the floor of our minivan so that he could not see out the window. (He had separation anxiety when we first got him, so he is crate-trained.) Since he's a sight hound, we figured fast-moving scenery might be overwhelming him. He thrashes around in the crate, too. It seems the only way we can get a peaceful ride in the car with him is to make him run around until he is nearly exhausted. The older he gets, the harder that becomes.
We've never had a dog like him. Do you have any suggestions? He's a sweet dog who gets plenty of exercise. We'd love to take him with us outside our neighborhood, but he drives us crazy in the car. -- L.C., Pasadena Hills, Missouri
DEAR L.C.: This can be a difficult issue to deal with in older dogs.
Basically, you must sit in the car for 10 to 15 minutes for several days with the dog, giving him occasional treats, to desensitize him. Then switch on the engine and continue just sitting with him and giving him occasional treats. You can also give him some ginger candy or a half-teaspoon of freshly chopped ginger in a ball of peanut butter 20 minutes or so before getting into the car. This will calm his stomach, which could be the underlying trigger -- unless it is the way you drive! Apprehension and tension can be contagious.
Check the archives of my website, drfoxvet.com, by entering appropriate terms in the question box, for more suggestions. The search engine tool should pull up several answers that I have given to help dogs like yours.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)