Douglas was going to give up his showing career. But when a friend of Carole, his co-owner, heard that she immediately said "Don't do anything until you've seen Vav!"
"But he's not lame! Surely he doesn't need chiropractic." No-one could see any gait problem or posture problem. And Douglas was still running around and clearing the sofa at home - so much energy and no sign of pain!
Douglas is a Welsh Springer Spaniel, 2 years old. He had excellent breeding, great lines and has been placed at Crufts, but Douglas wouldn't settle to be touched by the Judge, so he ended up with a Reserve place (fourth).
This year, he hasn't settled since showing at Crufts in 2007.
He would cling to Carole, hiding behind her legs at the sight of any other Human Being. He would avoid any handling by vets or friends, or even his breeder. When he came to see Vav, Carole sat in the Reception room, and he stood on hind-legs behind her, paws on her shoulders, and hid his face in her hair! He was clearly going nowhere.
Vav watched Douglas briefly, heard the story from Carole, and quickly made up her mind what she was going to do. She felt that Douglas' original training had been good Â? he knew how to obey commands. She aimed to reawaken this training, by getting him to identify with the person holding the lead, rather than be exclusively fixed on Carole.
Vav sat down on the floor near Douglas without looking at him, speaking to Carole, and took notes about his history for her file. She then said: "I'm going to steal him, don't talk to him when I do". Picking up his lead, Vav commanded "Douglas, come!" and walked out of the Reception room. Up and down the drive, in and out of a large empty room, and then across and around the lawn. "Sit", Vav commanded every now and then, and cuddled him and rubbed him all over.
Then she took him back to Carole, and started a chiropractic treatment. Douglas stayed calm and let Vav put her hands on him. She found his pelvis was a bit misaligned and his lumbar region more seriously out of alignment.
This partly explains Douglas' fearful behaviour. If his back end hurt so much, any playing, patting or even judging would make him try to avoid the touch. He would eventually associate most people with pain. Vav adjusted his misalignments in her usual swift flowing manner, and Douglas stood still, accepting this.
Moments after the treatment, Douglas shook himself thoroughly. "Always a good sign,", Vav was pleased, "when the shake goes all the way from nose to tail, it means the spine is moving freely and without pain" She stood up and stole Douglas again, this time spending about twenty minutes walking stroking and cuddling him.
When she'd brought him back in to Carole, Vav sat back, leaving Douglas halfway between the two Human Beings. He walked over to Vav and leaned in to her for a cuddle. He lifted his head to lick her face, an instinctive greeting. "We've done it," Vav said, "now he identifies with me as well."
Other patients had arrived, and were watching with curiosity. Vav stole Douglas again and gave him to Chloe, and asked her to make him sit quietly for a while. Then, she took him to Anne, and asked her to take Douglas outside for a quick walk on the lawn and then return him to Carole.
Considering his frightened behaviour, Vav suggested two steps to continue working to calm Douglas. "Get as many people as possible to walk him, handle him and talk to him. Prepare him for judging and being handled by a stranger." And she described a homeopathic remedy for stage-fright before 'big events'.
Since then, Douglas has gone back to Showing, and won Best in Breed against solid competition. But his fearful behaviour sometimes returns in the ring, when the unexpected happens. Consequently, there remains some suspicion that a Judge handled him harshly, perhaps for biased reasons given his likelihood of winning.
Carole said "Vav's a Star! She's done so much for Douglas. We were at our wits end, and she has given us hope again. The breed specialist said he's a stunning specimen, and now we can Show him again. I don't know what we'd have done without her."
About the author:
Chiropractic, massage, homeopathy, herbs and more - gentle and holistic natural therapies for horses, dogs and other animals, complementary to the skills of veterinary medicine. Talented healer Vav Simon offers visiting service around Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Sussex, Berkshire, Surrey and the Isle of Wight - assessment and treatment usually on the same day.
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