MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- We've all heard about the benefits of massage. It can be a stress reliever, promote blood flow and reduce muscle strain.
One Twin Cities woman is showing the same idea applies to dogs.
Heidi Hesse is one of three nationally certified dog massage therapists in Minnesota and has started a business called Sound Hound Canine Massage.
Hesse's 12-year-old English sheepdog named LuLu was her inspiration into the career path.
"Since she's 12, she's getting old and arthritic and moving kind of slow," said Heidi Hesse, owner of Sound Hound Canine Massage
To help relieve her dog's slow, tired muscles, Hesse tried out dog massage. The treatment was so effective she decided to go to school to become a certified dog massage therapist. The coursework took nine months.
"I know there's 320 bones in a dog and every one of them. It's going back to school, you learn anatomy, you learn physiology, it's intense," Hesse said.
Her clients include dogs like Maisy Pancakes.
"I think we have -- what the doctors think is that she's got arthritis in her shoulder that started with an injury," said Nana Nishegaki, Maisy Pancakes' owner.
Owner Nana Nishegaki wanted to help her 14-year-old pup improve mobility and range of motion. In addition to physical therapy and hydrotherapy, she added massage therapy.
"I just want her to have a really good twilight years. She's really earned it," Nishegaki said.
Every two weeks Hesse massages the mixed breed dog. Her touch helps release tension in tight muscles and promotes blood flow to stiff joints.
"We're trying to get the muscles to relax a little because they're tight. If we can relax them and get oxygen and nutrients in it, it helps release a little bit," Hesse said. "I think a lot of people are this way, you just want to make them feel better and keep them happy and healthy. If I can do that and massage helps, I'm thrilled."
"I think she feels good and then she gets really excited. I like she gets pep in her step," Nishegaki said.
Her "clients" don't seem to mind the constant contact.
"With dogs you want to keep connected to them because the moment you take hands off them, they're like, 'Where did it go, I was being touched.' As long as you can always be touching them, they appreciate it or at least it keeps them in tune," Hesse said.
While the dogs embrace a stranger rubbing and petting them, the dog's owners can be a little skeptical in the beginning.
"If people haven't heard of it they're like, 'Really? That's different,'" Hesse said. "Dog massage has the same benefits as it does for human massage."
A typical dog massage last 45-60 minutes. It costs $65.
If you are interested in learning more, you can reach out to Sound Hound Canine Massage by clicking here.
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