When you hear the term “couples massage” you most likely imagine two people lying side by side, but for Peggy Osborne, owner of Four Paws Massage in Vancouver, the picture looks a lot different. Sharing a couples massage with your dog means Osborne massages your dog first, then gives you a massage while your dog relaxes in the same room. For many dog lovers, it’s a dream come true.
Canine Agility Trials Are Where Four Paws Massage Got Its Start
Osborne worked as a licensed veterinarian tech early in her career and became a licensed massage therapist for humans in 1993. After more than a decade focusing on massaging people, she added an animal massage license to her credentials in 2004 and started offering massages to dogs and their human companions. One place where her couples massage specialty was especially welcome was at canine agility trials, where she set up shop as a vendor and met some of the canine-human teams that are still her clients today.
“Canine competitors at agility trials are super athletes that benefit greatly from warm-up massages, cool-down massages, and massages to help with injury recovery,” says Osborne. “Their humans are often stiff and sore from traveling or competing in the events with their dogs, and they’re eager for massages too.”
Easing Canine and Human Health Issues is Four Paws Massage’s Specialty
Erin Hildahl is one of the clients who discovered Osborne’s massage services at an agility trial at least 10 years ago, and she and her Siberian huskies have been getting massages from Osborne ever since.
“I’ve had a lot of health issues, including broken bones and back surgery, and Peggy’s massages help me relax my tight, knotted muscles so I can sleep,” says Hildahl. “I go to her every three weeks, and every other visit I take Timber, my current agility dog. After Timber gets his massage, I take him outside to pee and offer him a drink of water. Then he gets a bone to chew on and is content while I get my massage.”
Elaine Ableidinger has two Belgian Malinois that also have been fans and regular clients of Four Paws Massage since Osborne worked at agility trials. “Six-year-old Revel is my current agility dog, and he’s super active, fearless, and hard on his body,” says Ableidinger.
“He’s had two significant injuries, one when he wiped out on a flight of stairs and another when he tried to jump onto a pool float and missed, and Peggy has been invaluable in helping him fully recover, get back to competing in agility, and stay fit and active.”
But massages aren’t just for dogs who are super athletes and competitors, of course. The life of an everyday dog – whether it spends time racing through fields, fetching balls and frisbees, taking its humans for walks and hikes and road trips, or just being a couch potato at home – takes its toll on their bodies, not to mention the aches and pains that develop as they age.
“My 15-year-old black Lab has severe arthritis, and Peggy’s massages always make him feel a lot better,” says one client. “I also have arthritis, and her massages keep me moving in spite of my painful knees and hips.”
From Shy Dogs to Energy-Packed Dogs, All Dogs Love Four Paws Massage
When humans bring their canine companion to Four Paws Massage for the first time, you can almost hear what’s going on in the dog’s mind: “What is this place? Am I at the veterinarian’s office? Am I here to get groomed?”
Most dogs want to sniff their way around the room, getting the lay of the land and a read on who’s been in the room before them. After that, some jump right up on the massage table and settle down, while others never really settle down. But that doesn’t faze Osborne.
“Some dogs, like Border Collies, have high energy levels and aren’t as apt to relax as other dogs,” she says. “For those dogs I let them move around on the massage table and give them a massage in motion.”
Ableidinger’s 11-year-old dog, Kiwi, tends to be anxious, but she loves Osborne. “She used to spend every massage session sitting up and kissing Peggy,” remembers Ableidinger. “It wasn’t until I started bringing a chew stick to distract her that she’d lie down for her massage.”
As for Osborne, she loves her work, and is always ready to welcome new clients. “People enjoy getting massages, and it’s great to feel appreciated and know that I’m helping my clients — both human and canine — feel better,” she says.
To find out more about Four Paws Massage or to schedule an appointment, call 360-936-3597. Appointments are available Monday through Thursday.