Since its launch in 2014, DogFest has grown and grown with thousands of people and their dogs attending the North and South festivals, so those of us based in the West were delighted to see it come to Bristol for the first time this year. Judging by the crowds of people at the main entrance before the gates even opened, plenty of people agreed with us!
All eight therapists on the stand were kept extremely busy offering free muscular health checks and talking to people about the benefits of massage. From current clients popping over to say hi, to people who had not yet heard of canine massage we met a wide range of people and more breeds of dog than I have ever seen in the same place at the same time.
Each dog and owner that visited us had a different story and reason for coming over. Many owners were curious to learn more about canine massage and to have their dog palpated, we were able to help by talking to owners about injury prevention. Others had noticed a change in their dog’s Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), slowing down on a walk or struggling to jump in the car and had put it down to age. Some owners were already aware of orthopaedic conditions their dog’s had and were keen to learn more about how clinical canine massage could support their dog’s condition by providing natural pain relief and relieving areas of overcompensation.
There were so many memorable dogs and special owners who were doing all they could to give their dog’s the best possible care. The older Border Collie whose talented and caring owners had customised a cart to look like a Land Rover so he could still socialise and attend events, but travelling in comfort rather than struggling to walk. The 17 week old Chihuahuas visiting us to have a positive handling experience. The nervous dog who is wary of any handling, relaxing enough for a full palpation once I’d taken a while to sit calmly with him.
After the busiest outdoor show of the year we were all exhausted with aching feet and fingers, but I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re looking forward to returning next year.