When Janet Jonas moved to Sunset Beach with her husband, Greg Weiss, and their dog, Emmy, just three years ago, Jonas was searching for a career that would blend her love of canines with her rich previous medical field experience. For more than thirty years, she worked in medicine as a nuclear medicine technologist, and later as the technical director of an outpatient nuclear cardiology practice in Roanoke, Virginia. During this time, she taught co-obedience, therapy, and agility dog classes at a local training facility for canines.
So it seemed only natural that Jonas would join the Pet Education Program with Paws-Ability, a nonprofit that raises funds and advances animal welfare in Brunswick County, when she moved here. The Pet Education program, taught once a year at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School, will expand. In the upcoming school year, it will be taught at two additional schools in the fall in Brunswick County and that is, in part, thanks to Jonas’s involvement.
“It makes me feel good that I’m doing something to reduce the number of unwanted pets in Brunswick County while teaching these kids about pet ownership,” Jonas states.
Jonas’s other volunteer efforts also include pets, such as: becoming a Pet Partner registered therapy team; competing with her golden retriever, Emmy, in two agility venues; and a Dog and Puppy Training level one intern from Pat Miller’s Peaceable Paws.
With dogs as her passion, Jonas always knew she wanted to practice with canine massage, seeing firsthand its benefits at the agility trials she attended with her retrievers. Last August she took the plunge and began studying at the Chicago School of Canine Massage – a 200-hour program. During this time, she worked at a rehab facility, an animal facility, and a dog training facility. It gave her immeasurable and hands-on experience with dogs.
Part of Jonas’s work at the School was to complete more than forty case studies including gait observations, stress study observations and calming signals in canines. Her curriculum in anatomy, pathology, first aid, physiology, massage technique, is proving both positive and effective in her new endeavor. All of this means that Jonas is able to provide canine massage that changes lives. Her work is both positive and effective, thanks to both her heart and her studies.
Many of the techniques used in human massage are applicable to canine massage, it turns out, and can have healing effects. In Sunset Beach, a good percentage of the dogs come from shelters and aren’t used to being touched. Not only does Jonas work with these dogs to show them loving and healing touches, but she demonstrates all techniques to the pet owners so they can continue the important work at home. Much can change for dogs through the simple act of gentle and focused touch.
Jonas recently opened Gentle Touch Canine Massage in Sunset Beach, which is in-home massage for canine companions. Results have been rewarding for her. Jonas works on a range of various motions with the canines. Many of the dogs she sees are beach dogs, others are geriatric.
“Massage is touch, with intent. Some dogs relax immediately. Others, I need to show the dog I’m friendly, I mean no harm, and am there to help,” Jonas says.
The dog owners Jonas has worked with have noticed positive changes in their fur babies. Some have mentioned their dog moves better and isn’t as stiff.
Some other proven benefits of canine massage include:
- Increased circulation, sending more blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
- Enhances acceptance of touch and bonding with people
- Improved flexibility and range of motion
- Promotes relaxation by stimulating the release of endorphins
- Reduced stress and relieve emotional pain caused by separation anxiety, vet and groomer visits, loss of another pet, and prior abuse
- Improved tone and elasticity of skin and maintains a shiny coat
- Improved lymphatic system
“Canines are my love,” Jonas admits. “I know that I’m helping them by massage. I’m trying to do things that will make them feel better and improve their health.”
Some dogs she massages in-home may need gentle touch weekly, others monthly, others less often. It really depends on the dog.
When asked what advice she would give to dog owners, Jonas says, “Socialize your dog to humans and other dogs. Take animals to the veterinarian yearly, and as needed.”
Every part of Jonas’s career is inspired by her love of animals. It is no surprise that one of her favorite quotes is, “I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am.” (author unknown)
Gentle Touch Canine Massage
Author’s Note: Jonas is still healing from the unexpected loss of her beloved golden retriever, Emmy (pictured above), but the sloppy kisses she gets from all of her clients are healing her heart.