The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Reiki Massage for Dogs Offered at New Murray Hill Pet Spa

By Mary Johnson | December 7, 2011 9:53am

MURRAY HILL — When it comes to pampering pooches, Manhattan has always led the pack.

A dog day care in Gramercy carts its clients around in a vintage Rolls Royce. Dog portraits and paintings are available for a couple thousand dollars each.

And now, as if a dog’s life wasn’t good enough, a new canine day care and boarding facility in Murray Hill is offering Reiki and essential oil treatments for pups.

Cynthia Okimoto, 31, opened New York Dog Nanny on Lexington Avenue between East 28th and East 29th streets about a month ago, after operating a day care and boarding business out of her apartment in Astoria for about a year.

“We’re trying to make it a one-stop shop but really high end,” Okimoto told DNAinfo in October while construction was ongoing. “Everything is for the dogs.”

That goal has been realized, from the tufted gray sofas in the dog run to the overstuffed pillows the dogs find perfect for napping on, to the menu of spa-like services.

Okimoto studied Reiki — a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation — for about five years, using a neighborhood cat as her first client.

Reiki treatments on animals can range in intensity and time, depending upon how healthy the dog is, she explained. Some sessions can last as long as an hour and a half.

Okimoto can perform Reiki virtually anywhere, provided the pooch is comfortable and its owner has about $38 to spare. Okimoto doesn’t need much except her hands, which float over the dog’s body throughout the treatment.

“Reiki’s a very intention-based healing method,” Okimoto explained after performing a treatment on her Yorkie, Todo. “I just kind of set an intention to kind of relax the dog and heal whatever ailments the owner has specified beforehand.”

“Once [the dogs] start feeling the energy,” she added with a smile, “they just relax.”

Okimoto said a yawn can be a telling sign during a treatment that the dog is receiving the energy being passed from her hands. And the effects can be tangible.

“After a dog gets neutered or spayed, it can take like a week with the cone [protective head gear to keep dogs from licking their wounds],” she noted. “With Reiki, it can definitely knock a couple days off that and just make them overall more comfortable.”

In addition to the Reiki, Okimoto said her establishment also offers essential oil treatments, which is “like acupuncture but with oils.”

As part of that service, oils are applied to pressure points on a dog’s body to sooth various conditions, she explained.

So far, Okimoto said the response to New York Dog Nanny has been very positive.

Her early marketing has focused mostly on the day care and boarding services, as well as her boutique full of miniature athletic jerseys for New York sports teams and knitted sweaters. So it remains to be seen how those in the neighborhood respond to more high-end canine services.

But there’s definitely interest, Okimoto added. At the annual Strut Your Mutt event in Manhattan earlier this year, she performed Reiki treatments on 25 dogs.

“The animals were all so relaxed,” she told DNAinfo in October. “[Reiki is] kind of like the hot thing now for the dog community.”