KENAI - Looking around the room, with the large oil painting portraits of assorted dog breeds, scented candles flickering and mood music coming from the tape deck, it was easy to see why Forest Gump was deeply relaxed.
No, not the character Tom Hanks portrayed, but Forest Gump the bouvier des Flandres being given a massage at the Kenai Peninsula's new spa for pets.
Kenai K-9 Spa is owned and operated by Terri Eddens, a certified master groomer with more than 35 years of experience. Eddens also holds the title of certified pet massage instructor from the Pet Massage Training and Research Institute.
"I love what I do, and it shows," said Eddens, who runs the business from her home in Kenai.
After her husband fell ill with cancer, she chose not to continue with a large retail grooming outfit in Anchorage.
Instead, she opted to stay close to her husband, while still pursuing her passion for working with animals.
At some high-volume groom-ers where they handle 50 to 60 dogs a day, owners drop dogs off in the morning and return for them in the late afternoon. At Kenai K-9 Spa animals can be scheduled for appointments.
"The difference in their attitude and comfort zone is remarkable," Eddens said. "They don't have the stress of phones ringing, dogs barking and people yelling over it all."
Eddens even uses massage to help calm pets that are being boarded.
"Boarding can often be a traumatic situation for dogs because they're pulled away from their homes and families," Eddens said. "They're often nervous and frightened when they come in. By talking to them and massaging them, you see a change in their psyche. They lose their fear and gain confidence."
Cost for services range from $15 a day for boarding to $35 an hour for massage treatments. Techniques used at the spa complement holistic and traditional veterinary care.
"We don't overstep our bounds," Eddens said. "We don't diagnose or prescribe anything, and we leave recommendations to qualified veterinarians."
Massage may help speed healing of injuries by stimulating the area and increasing blood flow.
"She's a whole different dog when she comes out," said Jane Dullum of her 10-year-old Gordon setter with medical problems. "She was getting stiff and standing up slow. The massages make it a whole lot better."
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