Gretchen Dietz, Animal Acupressurist Blogger
I met a new client this week — Harley. She’s a nine-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and completely adorable. She was putty in my hands, rolling on her back to make certain I had direct access her belly and offered to crawl in my lap so I didn’t have to reach and strain my back to work on her.
Harley’s biggest concern is a pacing gait and a tendency, when tired, to drag her right hind foot. Within 15 minutes of the assessment, the guardian asks the question I know is coming, “What do you think it is?”
I remember when this question made me squirm. I fought with myself to not answer it even though I really, really wanted to. It’s not my job to diagnose, I’ve reminded myself more times than I can count. And how many times have my ideas ended up being wrong or not quite right?
So over time I’ve learned to give this response: I am not a vet. Followed by: I can tell you what I feel (as an animal acupressurist)vand then, if you want me to discuss with your vet my observations or you want me to recommend someone who could provide you with a diagnosis, I’d be happy to do so.
In Harley’s case, there’s a lot going on with her cervical spine — it’s hot, it feels slightly askew, and whenever I touch the area around her atlas, she turns her head away and offers another area instead. I show the owner and I begin our discussion with “If Harley were my dog” — my other pat answer — and then proceed to offer the guardian names of holistic vets who might help.
As I worked on Harley after the assessment, my suspicions were confirmed when I lightly held GV 14 and Bai Hui – Harley melted into her blanket on the floor and fell sound asleep. The tension in her neck subsided and the next day, the guardian called me to say, “She didn’t drag her feet at all on our long walk today. It was amazing!”
Still, I encouraged her to seek help from Dr. G (the veterinarian chiropractor and acupuncturist I recommended). The guardian was already on top of it and had an appointment for the next day. Long story short, Dr. G confirmed my assessment — Harley’s atlas needed adjustment as did her TMJ and occiput.
The best part of the story for me, though, was having Dr. G email me today and provide me with more points to work and areas to massage in between Harley’s chiropractic adjustments. The guardian is pleased as well and we’ve scheduled a series of weekly and alternating massage and acupressure sessions under Dr. G’s guidance.
Lessons for the week: I am not a vet and I must use the skills I do have to provide the best care for my clients. The skill of referral is as important as the skill of assessment.
Stay Tuned for Next Month’s Entry of The Acupressurist’s Diary: Part Two: Stumped!