Massaging My Dog to Sleep
Massaging My Dog to Sleep
Have I mentioned that Sadie is the best dog in the world? She’s sweet, cuddly, smart, obedient (enough). And it’s not just me that loves her…if I don’t bring her to work, everyone asks where the heck she is.
I massage her aging body each night as she goes to sleep. I love our connection, and she teaches me about the natural process of letting go.
Sadie: the most expensive instant family therapy
We found Sadie (thanks to my daughter’s persistence) at the pound over 8 years ago. It was more than a year after my husband died and my two kids were like oil and water — living side-by-side, but not intermingling much.
We took Sadie home, and learned about dog rearing by experience. Poor Sadie. Poor us!
In the first months, Sadie clawed doors in our house, spent the night in the animal hospital after scavenging forgotten medication, attacked another dog in defense of her new territory, and incurred several more unexpected expenses.
But my son and daughter loved her, and began to become closer again. With Sadie (and a little xBox) they actually became friends.
With my son moved out and my daughter at college, it’s just me and Sadie
I’m not sure what I’d do without her, though last I checked, I don’t have that much power to keep her alive forever. I try though.
To help her arthritis, each meal I feed her glucosamine, doggie ibuprofen, Chinese herbs specifically for hindquarters (not sure why it doesn’t work on her front legs?!), CBD drops legal in Washington, fish oil, and yogurt.
I take her on walks up hills, adding to her activities of checking out passersby from the yard.
I even put recycled yoga-mat treads on each step so she doesn’t slip in her slow gait up the stairs.
The best is her massage when she makes it all the way to the top floor
She plops on the floor of my bedroom, resting her head on a folded fleece-blanket. Sometimes we snuggle, and other times she thoroughly licks both sides of my hands. Perhaps she’s tasting treats I’ve touched, but I like to think she’s petting me.
Then I help her painful, overworked body relax. I start on her neck and ears. I rub the sides of her spine down towards her tail. Her front upper and lower limbs.
If I pause for a moment, Sadie nuzzles me with her paw — no stopping! She exposes her belly, her favorite place for a rub, but soon that’s too much work and she’s back lying on her side.
I work thoroughly and gently on her back and thighs, knowing how much they have to compensate for her arthritic hips and knees.
When I pause again, I know she’s on her way to sleep.
First there’s the deep exhale.
Then her eyes — instead of seeing the reflection from her iris, they’re muddy brown as the third eyelid appears. (Pretty clever evolution, because if you don’t look closely, it seems she still has her eyes open. But she’s asleep.)
Last she twitches…legs, neck, torso. Is she dreaming of chasing cats long ago?
Do we fall into rest and sleep that way?
Humans let go like that, too. Relaxing into the body. Exhaling away tension. Letting go of the eyes that both see and track thoughts. Moving into dreamy images.
Sadie’s way of falling asleep certainly helps mine. It would be glorious have a massage every night, but that’s a far cry from reality.
Instead, we can remember being in our bodies. Release a gentle exhale. Imagine your eyes can nestle into into their sockets. And let your mind dream up some feelings of authentic gratitude.
Move into deep rest, and welcome sleep.
Speaking about insomnia and sleep
I’m looking to talk more about insomnia, rest, and sleep. If you know of any clubs, groups, or organizations that are looking for speakers, please let me know. Preferably in the Northwest, but I’d be happy to travel as well.
For your cuddly and restful nights,