Dog Therapy

Voice Card  -  Volume 15  -  Paul Card Number 4  -  Wed, Jul 11, 1990 12:33 AM

[Leading remarks are NOT mine -PRN]

I found this article in the Friday, November 17, 1989 San Francisco Chronicle. I swear this is a true story, as hard as that might be for those of you who live outside of the influence of California (auras, crystals, and the sun, don't forget the sun, I believe that it's the sun's rays that do us in) to believe.


Steve Rubenstein

Ingrid Iversen puts dogs in touch with their bodies.

This happens in Berkeley, a town where dogs go to tune into their inner selves. Iversen, a physical therapist for humans, is branching out these days into dogs. She says she can help them become better animals.

Even my dog, who chewed three pairs of sneakers in a single week?

"Yes," said Iversen. "Bring her over tomorrow at 1 o'clock."

At the appointed hour, Sally and I arrived at Iversen's studio on Buena Avenue. It looks like a massage studio, and what Iversen does to animals for $45 an hour looks like massage. But it isn't. It's Feldenkrais body work, which is harder to spell.

Iversen, a cheery woman in bare feet with a healing crystal around her neck, placed a massage sheet on the floor and sat cross-legged upon it, with Sally in her lap, and commenced the laying on of hands.

There's nothing really the matter with Sally that isn't also the matter with other 4-month-old Labrador retrievers. She has a big mouth, like her owner, and enjoys putting the wrong things in it. Iversen said what Sally needed was "increased mouth awareness."

And the brave woman stuck her fingers directly inside Sally's mouth and began rubbing Sally's gums, teeth and tongue.

The room was still. Sally, who has most people figured out by now, seemed most puzzled by Ingrid Iversen. She did not stuggle, as she is fond of attention in whatever form it takes.

"I'm bringing awareness to her gums," said Iversen, while wiggling her fingers. "The gums provide a direct nerve connection to the centers of the brain where emotional stuff is stored."

Iversen took my hand. Together we rubbed the inside of my dog's mouth. "This is very powerful," she said. "What we're doing may give your dog a more comfortable body to live in, and save you a few shoes."

We kept rubbing her mouth, then we moved on to her tail. There can be much tension in a dog's tail, said Iversen, despite all the wagging. While we rubbed Sally's tail, Iversen told of the body work she has performed on dozens of animals, including a fish.

"The fish was interesting," Iversen said, "One day at Pyramid Lake, a fish swam into my hand and asked me to turn it over and rub its stomach. I was very grateful to have had the experience."

With two people paying her full attention, Sally was a contented beast. She fell asleep, snoozing through the second half of her treatment, about $22 worth, waking only when I found two fleas on her tension-filled tail. I massaged their bodies with my fingernail.

The fleas did not die in vain. Iversen acknowledged that their deaths could give Sally a more comfortable body to live in, too. "To kill anything is unfortunate," she said, in a low voice, "but we do live in the real world." As our hour ended, Iversen urged me to practice my new knowledge at home by more rubbing and by transmitting visual images directly to Sally.

"Think very hard," she said, "about what you want your dog to do. Visualize it. Then sit next to your dog and send the picture. Chances are the dog will understand because dogs have deep psychic powers."

"In your case it may be harder," Iversen said, "because it's hard to transmit an image of a dog not doing something, such as chewing shoes."

It's hard, all right. That must be the reason Sally chewed another pair yesterday.