Osteopath and Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner
M. Osteopathy, PGCertHS (Sports Medicine), B.App.Sci, Dip Animal Osteopathy, CCRP, CPCFT, Cert Animal Dry Needling.
Growing up I always loved anatomy and human movement. I love watching people move and I loved playing sports. I always thought I’d become a physio but as it turns out, a referral from my GP for low back pain was the turning point to becoming an osteopath.
I completed my undergrad before graduating with a Master of Osteopathy in 2004. During my five years of studies, I also worked as a fitness trainer before moving into fitness management. This combination allowed me to hone my skills in both manual therapies and exercise prescription/rehabilitation. I continued the dual work pathway for some years, with a little back surgery thrown in the mix.
Fast forward to 2012 when I left New Zealand and moved to Australia. I took a purely clinical role practicing osteopathy in Wollongong. I met some amazing clients, with a couple of them suggesting I should start treating their dogs. At this stage, I didn’t have a dog of my own and while I grew up with a dog and some cats, they were just family pets.
Everything changed in 2016 when I got my first dog, Patrick. He is my little man, my emotional support officer. We started going to dog training and dipped our toes into dog agility. It was tough learning agility when both Patrick and I were learning it for the first time!
By now I had been looking into training in animal osteopathy. There was a course in the UK that I was really interested in and by chance, in April 2017 Stuart McGregor traveled to New Zealand to deliver the course. It was hands down one of the best courses I had ever completed. Returning from New Zealand I started treating some of my client’s dogs. It was so much fun and so rewarding.
Since starting to treat dogs in 2017 I have also completed the Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP) course through the University of Tennessee, the CPCFT canine fitness trainer certificate, and a certificate in animal dry needling. Betty also joined my family in 2019.
In 2020 Dr. Mays and I opened Animal Wellness & Performance Clinic in the Southern Highlands. Over the two years we operated I was fortunate to help rehabilitate dogs from paralysis to walking again, post-op knees/hips/spine/elbows. I also continued to treat sporting, show, and senior dogs through this time.
In 2022 there were changes in the air. Dr. Mays was moving to Queensland and it was time for me to decide what I truly wanted. I knew I wanted to treat more dogs and fewer people (yes, I still treat people too) but what did it look like?
As I mentioned right back at the start. I love watching people move. If you’ve ever seen me as an osteopath you know I’ll watch you from the moment I greet you. Are you sitting, what is your sit-to-stand like, are you limping, do you look like you’re in pain, is there strain in your posture, what are your shoes like, and are they affecting your gait? Before I even ask you how you are in the room, I’ve already noticed all of this. Well, its no different in dogs. From the moment I see your dog, I’m watching them move. What is their posture like, are they limping, are they nervous / in pain / happy, are they carrying extra weight and how is this impacting their movement…there is so much to see if you’re looking.
My favorite clients are motivated owners. Show, sporting, and pet dog owners that will do whatever they can to give their dogs the best life possible. I love owners that notice the subtle stuff and are proactive in seeking help from someone like me. I love the owners that will drive an hour each way for weeks on end to rehabilitate their dog from a serious injury.
Sooo…I love movement. I love posture. And I love improving both of these. After nearly 20 years of treating people and all of the feedback I received. I know if I can decrease postural strain and improve movement, it will equate to less pain and a happier dog. This might take the form of hands-on treatment or exercise prescription to help strengthen areas of weakness.
2023 is going to bring exciting things including a trip to Norway to teach canine osteopathy to other practitioners.
I also have an educational dog rehab website called The Balanced Dog. This is part of my journey to help educate dog owners about musculoskeletal conditions.
If you would like to discuss your dog’s condition please email Rachel here.