A Healing Touch for Shelter Dogs

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Animal Samaritans No-Kill Shelter provides a refuge for at-risk, adoptable dogs and cats by housing, feeding, socializing, and providing medical care until they find their forever homes. The animals they receive into the adoption program can come from various sources—two of the primary ways that animals arrive at Animal Samaritans are from the local shelter and owner- surrendered pets. But Animal Samaritans also has dedicated a staff stationed within a local shelter that has not yet been able to institute no-kill policies. The Animal Samaritan’s employee helps add capacity to this shelter by quickly removing at-risk animals and connecting them with potential guardians and rescue groups. Some of the dogs and cats at Animal Samaritans have physical or emotional problems that need to be resolved before they can be placed with a new family.

Most shelter pets have had a rough life, so when they arrive at Animal Samaritans, they bring behavioral issues caused by fear, stress, and anxiety. Fortunately for Animal Samaritans, one of their best methods for rehabilitating scared, stressed, and anxious dogs is provided by volunteer canine massage therapist Wendy Rall, CMFT.

Pepper and Sassy are two canine sisters that have benefited in part from Wendy’s healing touch. Their story is like many of the pets that Animal Samaritans saves.

Both Chihuahua mixes, Pepper and Sassy were homeless. A kind woman found them wandering the streets and took them in. Unfortunately, the time came for her to move, and she could not take Pepper and Sassy with her.

So, she brought them to Animal Samaritans.


When the two first arrived, they were full of fear, stress, and anxiety. Being homeless, then finally finding a home, only to have it suddenly taken away … the dogs were distrustful. And now they were trying to adjust to yet another new living situation.

Junior volunteer Emily sat with the dogs for hours. After a few months of gaining their trust, the dogs would cuddle with Emily. With time, the dogs seemed less traumatized and were starting to be more open to handling and petting. That’s when Wendy shifted from providing comfort and companionship to hands-on healing.

Massage therapy is a holistic solution to help with the fear, stress, and anxiety that many dogs feel when they enter a new environment. The massage therapy sessions calm nerves. A calm dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is a friendly dog. Wendy has been treating Pepper for about 10 months. She says, “Pepper has come such a long way, from shying away from my touch to running to her bed for a belly rub!”

Sassy has grown to love her massages, too! She was recently adopted into a permanent home.

At press time, Pepper was still available for adoption. If you’d like to meet Pepper, please call (760) 343-3477 to schedule an appointment or visit AnimalSamaritans.org.

Wendy Rall is a Certified Canine Myomanipulative Functional Therapist providing in-home therapy sessions in the Greater Palm Springs and Joshua Tree areas. She is co-founder of the Los Cabos Humane Society and has extensive experience working with rescued dogs. Find out more at k9massages. com or call Rescued Tails Canine Massage Therapy at 951-704-3374.

Benefits of Canine Massage Therapy

By working on the dog’s soft tissues, canine massage can:

• Reduce stress

• Improve blood flow

• Alleviate pain

• Relax tight muscles

• Heal sprains

• Strengthen the immune system

• Improve digestion

• Lower blood pressure

Pet Companion Mag
Southern California's Local Pet Magazine

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