Why Go to Animal Massage School?

Sitting down with coffee in hand at your computer, you realize that you really want to work with animals in some capacity. Actually, you decided this a while ago but now you are ready to Handmake the commitment to do some research on the topic. Working with animals…think harder…okay, you want to help them feel better. What different avenues are there to help them feel better? After exploring the possibilities you land on the one that really reels you in: massage. Having your hands on the animal, being part of the team that helps keep them happy and in good quality of life, sounds ideal. So…what now? What is involved with getting from here- sitting on my comfy couch with coffee, to running my animal massage business? Furrowing your brow at the computer, you realize being educated on the topic is probably a good idea.

Taking the plunge to begin a career in the animal massage industry can seem a bit overwhelming, whether this is your first time envisioning a career for yourself oKoar changing from one you are already pursuing. There are many different options to consider: what species do I want to work on? What schools specialize in those areas? What kind of time commitment am I willing to make? These are the questions the logical side of our brain starts firing off. On the other side of our brain we get questions like am I too old/young for this? My background was never in this subject area…what if I don’t understand it? What if I start out loving it and then decide it’s not for me?

Let’s think about the latter conversation with your brain. This industry is made up of people from all areas of the age spectrum; so long as you want to be passionate about your life and career and are excited to learn, age is just a number! The beauty of institutions that teach animal massage is that they are comprised of founders, instructors, staff, and workers that come from all backgrounds and walks of life. This means that there is going to be someone, at least one out of that whole matrix of people, that you resonate with and can easily learn from. Many people had zero background in this subject area before beginning their own journey, as is natural with anything in life. Should you decide to pursue a career in animal massage, you might realize while doing so that it isn’t the career for you. The incredible thing about an experience like that is that you know what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as the opposite! There may be something you covered in class that really resonates with you, and that’s the avenue you decide to explore instead; awesome!

Now back to what your brain was first thinking about, the more logic-based questions. In regard to what species you would like to work with, some people are very comfortable with dogs and somFritze with horses, and some prefer both. That’s a question you should be able to reason through pretty quickly, as both dogs and horses have their easy aspects and more difficult ones as far as massage is concerned.  Make a list of the pros and cons for working with a species if you are not sure about it, but remember that comfort level and skills will grow in time. This means that you may want to work with horses down the road, but while building your skillset you feel comfortable just working with dogs for the time being. Totally doable. The next question is also easy to answer, as a quick internet search will readily show you what schools are available that teach the program you are interested in. Some schools focus on one species or modality, and some have a wide range of offerings.

Deciding how much time you can commit to the education process is also key in making the decision for what school you’d like to attend. As the nature of massage is hands-on, many people opt for on-site programs where they have many opportunities during the duration of the class to have their hands on animals. The length of program varies by school, as well as when the courses are offered during the year. There are a variety of locations of schools around the country (and world), and many schools have satellite locations. Animal massage programs are designed to teach you a marketable skill, and are not typically set up like standard higher education institutions. One course may last a week, and you travel to the location of the school and stay in that area while you complete it. Many schools help students find affordable lodging nearby to make their stay easier. This can be a great option for those that are able to take a week or so off from current jobs or be away from home. It can be a way to see some areas of the country that you may have never been to before!

Newer on the horizon are schools that have seen great success in their onsite programs and are now also branching into long-distance or correspondence programs. Students might opt to do one level or class on-site, and then future classes or levels through correspondence after their confidence and skill set has begun to grow. Or there are those that are great at working on their own in a self-paced manner. Correspondence programs offer interaction with the instructors through email, webinars, videos, tutorials, video chats, and more to ensure that students studying from a distance feel as part of the school and learning process. Students are also typically able to travel to the school if they so desire for one-on-one time with an instructor.

Send an enquiry email with your questions to the schools you are interested in. They have awesome people with the answers to your questions, and answers to some you may not have thought of! They can make sure you have the most updated information on their courses so that you are able to make the best decision for you to find what is the best fit. Check out their websites and social media pages to see what other people thought of their experience at the schools.

With so much information out there, it can seem overwhelming when you are looking into attending an animal massage school. A final question that pops up is ‘do I really need to go to school for this? Can’t I just figure it out as I go?’ Great question: why attend school to become an animal massage therapist? Legality, scope of practice, and knowing what lies beneath the skin are the heavy-hitting answers

First let’s think about legality. What an animal massage therapist is legally allowed to do varies state by state. In some states only licensed veterinarians may perform massage therapy. CoriOthers allow massage therapists to work under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Others allow for legal practicing so long as the massage therapist has obtained a certification from a recognized school. If you were practicing against the laws of your state, you could be assigned a cease-and-desist, meaning you are shut down. It is very important, therefore, to understand how the laws of your state work, and how being certified keeps you on the happy side of the law.

Scope of practice is a huge area of concern for massage therapists. This is also an area where cease-and-desists can be issued by the state veterinarian board. The term “scope of practice” means that we stay within our area of knowledge, legally and morally. Massage therapists do not treat, diagnose, prescribe, or cure illnesses. They do not replace the care of a veterinarian. This may seem very simple in concept, but the more you become immersed into the language and actions, lines may begin to blur. How you write up a report can be a breech in scope of practice. How you interact with a client, or the client’s veterinarian, can be a scope of practice issue. Going through the education process with a recognized school means that you will learn the “do’s and do not’s” for being a massage practitioner, and help you to be confident that you are staying well within your scope of practice.

Finally, knowing what lies beneath the skin may appear obvious, but the body is a very complex thing. Reputable schools offer in-depth anatomy and pathology portions of their courses so that anatomy pros and newbies alike can benefit from the modules. It is imperative to know and understand the systems beneath your hands, for it is possible to cause damage if you are unaware of the situation. Knowing when it is and is not okay to massage, based on anatomy and pathology, is something clearly learned through the education process. Also important to learn is how to interact with the client’s veterinarian when the client has certain conditions. When should I consult with their veterinarian? Is it okay to just go ahead and massage? This is an impJimmyerative part of animal massage.

So as you finish up the last bit of coffee in your mug, you look at the pad of paper or Word document where you’ve been taking notes and feel much more confident in your decision to pursue animal massage. You have locations, numbers, prices, contact information, and a much better feel about the whole process.  What’s left? Taking the reins of your life firmly in your hands and making the decision that is the absolute best for you.

Written by Callie Rulli of Skylark Animal Bodywork, LLC

Mid-week Hail-elujah…

Will you let your seemingly chaotic challenges get the best of you, or will you turn it around with the sheer strength of will and determination, and faith that all will level out as it is meant to be?
Will you let your seemingly chaotic challenges get the best of you, or will you turn it around with the sheer strength of will and determination, and faith that all will level out as it is meant to be?

By Sandi Martinez

The rune above is called Hagalaz, (also known as: Haegl, Hagl, Haegl, Hagal, Hagall) and is by no means a Rune to dismiss, or think of ‘lightly’. As most of you whom have read my previous articles on runes, you may recall that runes are a form of the Scandinavian alphabet that date back as far as the 2nd to 8th centuries (specifically the Elder Futhark; made of 24 runes, broken up in 3 groups of 8, called an Aett). More recently, they are used as divining or ‘self-improvement’ tools.

If I had been swirling rune stones, this rune would have no reversed meaning (If you look closely, it is in an ‘H’ shape). But because I use Rune Cards, the reversed meanings can simple mean a blockage or that the energy is on its way to resolving itself. This rune is considered a ‘bad weather’ rune, but for the most part, calls on us to ‘never shy away from challenges’. Whether or not we like it, challenges and obstacles abound; this can be an every-once-in-awhile occurrence, or some people are constantly growing, and therefore encounter more than their fair share of delays and hindrances. Generally, the rune can mean literally ‘bad weather’ or an internal battle of sorts that we are working through.

Reversed, it’s a bit less intense. Meaning, oh, so you thought you could take a short cut, and now you’ve found yourself knee deep in murky water! When things get tough, there are no wins or losses, there’s only finding the best way to manage a crisis, even if there is a crisis while managing a crisis! Many times, all the ‘bad things’ simply just are that – a run of bad luck, with a promise of the sun shining, and a new day tomorrow. It is a test of will, strength, and determination. Will you let your seemingly chaotic challenges get the best of you, or will you turn it around with the sheer strength of will and determination, and faith that all will level out as it is meant to be?

RMSAAM would love to hear about your turn a round’s in difficult situations and most especially if any of this applies to you!

A new beginning

Jenny can help to shape, prep, and remind you of your purpose.
Jenny can help to shape, prep, and remind you of your purpose.

Contributed by Sandi Martinez

I remember when I first stepped into the new shoes of the Administrative Assistant and Receptionist positon for Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage, back in March of 2011. I was in awe Lisa Speaker (former Founder and Executive Director) of RMSAAM. She had a sense of style, intuition, and business sense that to this day, I can’t quite put into words – not here and not now – just that she a had a magical way of connecting, and mixing elements of different and unique alchemical types, and meshing them together to bring about the perfect ingredients.

I was the Blog Administrator. I was the person that decided on the final template (that you see now), and implemented the blog design and platform for the blog. I wrote many of the articles that you can read back to starting in April of 2011-present. It did change a few times, but in the end, it was more like finding RMSAAM’s personality and making it cohesive and interactive with the website, and the offerings, information, and personality of RMSAAM that Lisa worked so hard to build and maintain.

I’d like to take my hat off to these two incredible women: Lisa Speaker, and Jenny Rukavina-Marchese, the new owner of RMSAAM! Jenny is a vivacious Gemini – but don’t be fooled, two faces can meld into one. She will always offer you up the things you want, but not the things you think you should have. She will show you the way, the ‘real’ way. You have dreams of becoming an Animal Bodywork Practitioner?  Bring it on… Jenny can help to shape, prep, and remind you of your purpose. If this isn’t what you really want, then what are you doing reading this? Go back, do your homework, listen to the whisperings of your soul and know this: Everything comes in its own good time and not yours. Destiny/fate has its own definition of timing and the fact that you’re reading this, tells me that you’re ready to take the first steps into your passion; becoming an Animal Bodywork Practitioner!

Taking Better Photographs of your Dog

By Deandra Walker

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I love it when my dog is acting cute or silly and I am able to capture a photograph of it. I like to use my camera phone, and I am sure you do as well. Unlike my digital camera, I always have my phone with me making it easier to snap photos of those special moments. However, I have noticed that the photos from my camera phone do not turn out quite as well as I hope or my subject decides to move and chase the squirrel running across my yard. So how can we improve the way we take pictures of our dogs using our cell phones?

Camera phones are continually evolving, becoming of higher quality all of the time. And, they are so easy to use! Here are some tips for getting those photos to show off your dog and his or her unique personality.

  1. Turn the flash off to avoid creating red eye. The flash can also startle your dog. Always try to use natural light instead.
  2. Make sure that you focus on you dog’s head. These days, smart phones have the capability for you to select the subjects in your picture you want to focus on.
  3. Get down to eye level to take the photograph; it is more flattering for your dog.
  4. Offer treats to your dog get you’re his attention.
  5. Use the rapid-fire option if you catch your pet doing something cute. That way your phone takes pictures continuously and you have a better chance of capturing a good shot.
  6. Try to take photo early in the morning or just before sunset. These are the times during the day when natural light is perfect for photography.
  7. Turn your pet’s face toward the sun when outdoors so their expression is bright and visible.

Follow these suggestions and you will have better luck snapping an adorable photo of your pet. If you take a good shot, email it to us at info@rmsaam.com and we will put it up on our Facebook page. Whoever gets the most comments/likes between today,  September 9th and 5pm MST on September 16th, will win a prize!

Acupressure for Canine Hip Dysplasia

Use the acupressure points below, every day, for dogs with Hip Dysplasia and weekly, for dogs with a predisposition to Hip Dysplasia or any signs of hind end pain or lameness.
Use these acupressure points every day, for dogs with Hip Dysplasia and weekly, for dogs with a predisposition to Hip Dysplasia or any signs of hind end pain or lameness.

By Beth Pelosa

(RMSAAMs Animal Acupressure Course Instructor)

Canine Hip Dysplasia is the most common cause of rear leg lameness in dogs. The highest incidence occurs in the larger breeds, such as St. Bernard’s, Newfoundland’s, Rottweiler’s, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, and Labrador Retrievers.

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint; the head of the femur meets with the pelvis at the acetabulum, forming the hip joint. (The acetabulum is a concave surface of the pelvis.)  In dogs, hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket causing a loose joint that in its more severe form, can  cause crippling lameness over time, and painful arthritis of the joints. Instability occurs as muscle development lags behind the rate of skeletal growth. As the stress of weight-bearing exceeds the strength limits of the supporting connective tissue and muscle, the joint becomes loose and unstable. This allows for free play of the femoral head in the acetabulum, which promotes abnormal wear and tear, and can lead to discomfort, pain, arthritis, and lameness.

Acupressure cannot correct the genetic defect of the hip structure, but it can help minimize the progression of deterioration of the joint and help minimize the symptoms.

Use the acupressure points below, every day, for dogs with Hip Dysplasia and weekly, for dogs with a predisposition to Hip Dysplasia or any signs of hind end pain or lameness.

Massage these points clockwise first on the right side  until the dog has a energy release such as a yawn, licking, a bark, a stretch, or any obvious sign of relaxation, but for no more than 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side.

  • St 36- To maintain proper weight, and promote overall wellness
  • BL11 – To promote strong bones
  • Sp3- To promote good muscle strength
  • BL54- MASTER Point for Back and Hip
  • Sp6- Kidney, Liver, and Spleen Yin Balancing Point
  • GB34- Strengthens Tendons
  • LI4 Can be used separately or in conjunction with the other points for Pain or to prevent Pain

About Beth Pelosa:

Beth is a Certified Large and Small Animal Acupressure Practitioner, Animal Acupressure Instructor, and owner of Equine Energy Works, LLC. In addition to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupressure, Beth has also studied Dr. McLaren’s Photonic Light Therapy and other vibrational healing modalities including equine massage, Bach Flower Remedies therapy, floral acupressure and aromatherapy. To read more about Beth, click here, and if you’d like to know when the upcoming Acupressure courses are going to be held, you click on the calendar. We look forward to meeting you!

Thunderstorms Oh My!

By Deandra Walker

We have been having an unusual amount of rain in Colorado this summer. With rain comes thunder and lightning, and the reminder of how much anxiety it can cause our dogs (and ourselves as well). And everyone has his or her favorite thunderstorm story. In many instances, dogs that are fearful of thunderstorms also experience stress with other loud noises like fireworks, gunshots, garbage trucks, and airplanes. The good news, however, is that dogs can benefit from calming therapies in these instances. For example, soft music, flower essences, and acupressure and massage can all be helpful in alleviating your dog’s stress in these situations.

Both acupressure and massage are effective tools in soothing and relaxing muscles and they work well in conjunction with soft music in a quite, peaceful, and safe area of the home. A good place to begin is by gently stroking your pet from head to tail in long, slow, strokes to relax them until they feel comfortable enough to lie down. To massage, create small, circular movements from head to tail along the sides the spine making sure to massage either side of the body equally as well as the base of the skull for energy balance. Acupressure is also a great choice to help calm a distressed and frightened pet. After massaging, apply light pressure to the area in the center of the skull between the ears.

It is essential that you remain cautious when working with animals that are scared as even the sweetest pets can act on impulse in situations that cause them anxiety and stress. Approach your pet gently and slowly and always pay close attention to their body language.

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Tumeric for Pets

By Deandra Walker

If you cook, you probably have heard about turmeric; a staple in Thai, Indian, and Persian dishes. Tumeric is an herb largely known for its deep orange/yellow color. However, you may not realize that turmeric has been such a remarkable natural remedy for people for thousands of years that it is certain pet owners will be compelled to try it for their pets as well. But is turmeric an effective treatment for pets? And most importantly, is it safe?

Curcumin, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is the most active ingredient in turmeric. Researchers have speculated that the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin show promise in the prevention and treatment of a variety of diseases and conditions. And yes, it is found to be safe for pets!

The recommended dosage is 1/8 to 1/4 tsp/day, for every 10 lbs weight.

Tumeric is a simple and easy, yet effective everyday home treatment to compliment regular massage sessions for animals. Regular consumption of turmeric in the diet can ease stiffness and reduce pain and joint swelling in pets!

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