Dog massages at Bangor Humane Society

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Stephen Kazmierczak is training to be a massage therapist. But instead of humans, he'll be focused on four legged clients at the Bangor Humane Society.

"Well, I'm retiring from my current job in a couple months, and I wanted something else to do when I was retired. I love animals, they've been very, very good to me, so I wanted to find something that I could do to benefit them and enrich their lives."

4-year-old beagle Finn wasn't exactly keen on the idea of meeting strangers. But after a few treats, Kazmierczak was able to get him up on the table before getting to work.

"They don't get out a lot, they don't get to see a lot of people. By touching them, feeling them, bonding with them, it makes it much more easy for them to find a new home."

Kazmierczak also provides physical therapy for dogs at Ridge Runner Veterinary Services in Winterport. Just like humans, he says massages for dogs provide a bevy of health benefits.

"Massage therapists can increase blood flow, they can increase circulation, they can increase range of motion, allows them to digest food better, process nutrition better."

And for dogs like Finn in shelters, it also relieves a lot of stress and makes them more suitable for human interaction.

"They become less afraid of humans, they become more willing to a accept humans as part of their family or pack, decreases anxiety."

When Finn's massage had ended, a once shy and timid pup was now bouncing with energy and clearly very happy.

"That's a reward. I'm not going to make a million dollars doing this, so I have to get some sort of reward and that's it."