I had an interesting experience with a dog in Maryland. I was giving a Myofascial Release II class, and a therapist came up and said, “I’m having this problem with my dog. He’s about 8 years old now and has always been a wonderfully relaxed dog. We moved a month ago and ever since then, he’s been in a total state of agitation. He runs constantly, he never sits still, he’s messing in the house, barking all the time and won’t sleep. He never messed in the house or barked before. Is there anything you can do?”
I replied, “I don’t know, but I am willing to try. Why don’t you bring him in at lunch.” She said, “Okay, but I can’t tell my husband because he thinks you’re crazy.” I said, “Okay.”
So, at lunchtime she brought him in. There were a lot of people in the room, so I just let the dog do his thing for a while. I just sat on the floor and eventually the dog came to me and I started to pet him.
Eventually I touched his head and back and he started to unwind and rolled on the floor for a while. I got this sense while treating him, and the message I intuitively received was, “This poor dog is in a total state of panic because its world has been taken away from him.” All that dog had ever known for eight years was that other house, and so it was in a total state of fear and panic. So I communicated to him visually and mentally, and I gave him permission to be calm. I explained to him that he has a new world to explore and that his parents/owners love him very much and he will be safe in his new home. It sounds stupid, but it works, and I’m willing to be stupid once in a while.
In any event, the woman came in the next day, laughing and said, “Well, my husband doesn’t think you are nuts anymore. The dog stopped messing in the house, he stopped running around, he is not barking anymore and he slept the night through.” Somehow there is this wonderful communication that can occur and it’s definitely worthwhile trying. I love animals, and myofascial release is a very loving thing to do for them.
John F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an international lecturer, author and acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed more than 50,000 therapists worldwide in his Myofascial Release approach, and he is the author ofMyofascial Release: the Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) andHealing Ancient Wounds: the Renegade’s Wisdom (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of Advisors of the American Back Society; he is also on MASSAGE Magazine’s editorial advisory board and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. For more information, visitwww.myofascialrelease.com.
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