His name is Carhartt , he is 11 weeks old. He bonks his head and rolls off of the leather couch and I catch myself thinking, lil dude, I’m gonna need to adjust you when we get to the office today. I have been in the chiropractic world since I was 15 years old. After 20+ years in the profession, I catch myself, and realize that I see the world through the lens of injury, alignment, prevention and neurology. He has no idea what an adjustment is, he just wiggles and is glad to be in my lap.

Zen, my first wirehaired Viszla is 3 now. She is a bit jealous but mostly tolerant of her our new addition. They romp and roll and then they snuggle in. It feels like a perfect little family to me. Except, for the middle of the night necessary outings. I count each step on the way up to my apartment, 19. 

I am certified in animal chiropractic and have treated horses and dogs for years. I got my certification because working with animals was natural to me. I was raised on a ranch with pets and farm animals and I rode horses in rodeo and cutting.  My dad got into race horses after I graduated chiropractic school and we decided it would be fun for me to get certified and give his racehorses a competitive edge.

I learned more about chiropractic through animals than I did from humans the first year I was in private practice. After treating humans all day I would take my 5 year old son with me and work at barns in the evenings. Horses got better faster than people ever did. Owners complained that their horses would refuse to turn barrels or make a lead change or buck when they put a saddle on them or that they hung their head after a teeth float. The young ladies were under the gun to compete in a queen contest or a header needed to turn a steer and I was the one called to “fix” their horses. Chiropractic worked so well I couldn’t believe it at first. I would get calls from young girls telling me they won, or that horses cleared jumps they had been missing or they didn’t buck when saddled. Owners could see they had happier attitudes in general. On more than one occasion I was called in with horses and dogs, as a last ditch chance, before they were to be put down. On many of those occasions chiropractic “worked” and saved lives and extended years. I have the Christmas cards to prove it.

I made the connection early that there is a different between animals and humans. Animals don’t have a lot of emotional baggage, humans do. Humans have jobs, responsibilities, stresses, spouses, poor posture and day jobs where they sit all day. Worse yet they have jobs or lives where they ignore pain and break their bodies down, hour after hour, and life is complicated by emotional stress and social expectation. Horses don’t know if they win. They only know if they feel good enough to run. 

Sure, horses have shoeing issues and saddle fit problems and uneven stall floors to contend with and that list goes on. But, on some level, if they can….they do. Something in humans resists getting better, expressing wellness, trusting when they feel good – that they can. Running fast, because they feel good and can, not to win.

Little Carhartt wiggled in my lap when I adjusted him. He isn’t out to win any contest except the one to beat Zen to my lap for more love. In the meantime, I will keep looking at life through my lens of fixing bonks and tumbles and improving alignment and neurology because in the end I want us all to feel good, to run fast. Whether he understands the power and application of chiropractic does not matter because I know its good for pets and humans, big and small, old and new, competitive or not.


Photo Credit: Sue Dillman

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