When Alyson Snelling lost her dogs, Astrid and Marco, unexpectedly to cancer in 2013, the loss set her on the path to becoming a canine massage therapist.
Now, Alyson, who is certified through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupuncture & Massage, has an animal massage business with its name and logo honoring her two canine buddies: Ash & Oak Canine Massage (ash trees represent healing; oak trees represent strength and stability).
"Anything I can do to help dogs to relax to alleviate tension, stress or pain so their bodies can heal in natural, holistic ways, I'm focused on that," she says.
Alyson provides massages to dogs for four main reasons: to ease muscle restrictions, stimulate circulation of body fluids, relieve pain and to lessen stress. She says massage therapy also loosens muscle knots, strengthens dogs' immune systems and increases flexibility in senior or arthritic canines.
"While massage for dogs is a new concept for many people, it's a great step to take for canines of all ages and even post-surgery to reduce swelling around incisions. It's not just for old dogs with wear and tear. Massage therapy is good for all of them to work out the toxins," explains Alyson, who also teaches massage.
Massage also is a good way to reduce anxiety in dogs and to socialize puppies or teach them body awareness.
"My bond with dogs is all about building trust through constant communication and touch to help them feel better. We have a relationship that helps them heal because their bodies are relaxed," she says.
Alyson also has assisted kittens and cats and eventually would like to be certified to work with horses.
"Cats are a little harder to read, but their circulation can benefit from massage, and it can help with health issues such as constipation."
For more information, call 314.896.0979 or visit AshAndOakTherapy.com.
Massage is not the same as petting dogs, accentuates Alyson, who is an attuned Reiki practitioner. Her services are provided in-home in the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area or at Back On Track in O'Fallon. Half-hour to full hour sessions range from $40 to $70, with packages available.