My Massage Booth Adventure

Yes, I ran the Massage Booth. There was nudity, kissing, and other inappropriate behavior. I’m not sorry. It was all for a good cause.

Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California runs an event every year called the Spring Games. All proceeds benefit homeless hounds. There are several events, delicious hot dogs to buy, a fabulous raffle. You can get your hound’s ears measured. Make a plaster paw print. Competitions include the kissing contest (yes, owners smear peanut butter or tuna water on their cheeks. And you know they practice at home). There’s a contest for the lowest belly (that’s a tough one is this crowd). The Basset boxer relay: the boxers go on the Bassets, with the tails coming out the holes, then you run to the other side of the ring.

But something was missing. I have an excellent massage therapist, Shawn. After my massage, Shawn moves on to massage the dogs. So in 2001 we decided to run a massage booth at the Spring Games. After all, what could go wrong?

Of course, we had to do it up right. The low massage table had leopard sheets and was surrounded by pillows. Festive sarongs surrounded the canopy for privacy. A scented candle provided aromatherapy. Soothing new age music played in the background. Wind chimes announced each, um, client. We had a canine acupressure chart for reference. There was a tip jar. It was $5 for 5 minutes minimum, and $5 for a souvenir Polaroid photo. As I told each human, “You have to buy a photo, otherwise no one will ever believe you did this!”

Many people were unsure whether their dog would like a massage. They all did. One poor guy who had been abused was terrified of men. He was shaking when he got on the table, so we had his little girl get up with him. About 30 seconds into the massage, he was completely relaxed. His owner cried and told me he’d never let a man touch him before then.

We had a long line waiting all day. The only unhappy hound was when my Hennessy realized her personal massage therapist was massaging other dogs. After a hot dog she decided it was all right and took a long nap (oh, yes, there’s a napping contest, too. Competition is stiff). A lot of people told me they’d never had a massage themselves. I sold them a photo or two. More than one hound reached up to give Shawn a kiss. We had to remind them it wasn’t that kind of massage. Lots of people bought extra minutes. One hound escaped from his owner, came in the back of the canopy, and jumped up on the table.

The event is held at Arcadia Park, which is a large public park, and we’re not the only event that day. At first puzzled visitors noticed an awful lot of those short dogs in the parking lot. Imagine their delight when they found the massage booth. I let them take photos and video, as long as they fed the tip jar. People were throwing $20 bills in. We made hundreds of dollars in just a few hours.

There was some regrettable nudity, but that’s to be expected. It turns out Bassets really like massages. If it benefits the homeless, even better.

We went back in 2002, and were delighted how many dogs remembered Shawn. And then we had to retire. Shawn has asthma and, even though we changed the sheets, all day in the booth with all that dog hair almost did him in. But if anyone else would like to try it, I’ve got some sarongs and leopard sheets I could lend you.

© 2010 by Janine Smith Not to be reproduced without permission.