Born in Tokyo, Ellie Harrell was an office worker before discovering the world of seitai with Choco, her canine companion of 17 years. Seitai, a Japanese body realignment therapy with roots in Chinese medicine, is most commonly known for its application on humans, but Harrell is one of the few practitioners using the techniques of seitai on dogs. Opening her salon, Bonjour, in October, she is now welcoming owners and dogs to her practice as well as making home visits.
1. What is seitai? Seitai is a shugi, literally meaning "hand skill," and it’s a type of physical therapy. It’s similar to chiropractic. The therapy helps patients move their joints more easily by improving circulation in their muscles, which helps them walk more easily and relieves physical pain. Unlike chiropractic, it doesn’t mainly focus on skeletal structures, but on the muscles.
2. What inspired you to do seitai for dogs? My late dog, Choco, had a bad knee. Her kneecap was loose and would often get dislocated. I took her to the vet, who gave me two options: surgery or a lifetime of taking supplements. I inquired further, wondering if that was really all that could be done. Then, the vet told me about dog seitai. I made an appointment on the spot with seitai doctors whose main practice was human seitai. However, being dog owners themselves, they had invented their own method of dog seitai. When Choco finished her first seitai session, she was already walking better. At that moment, I decided I wanted to become a practitioner myself.