We had a chat with Robyn at Equine & Pet Miracle about her business.
Why did you start your business?
I was a horse therapist, I still am actually, and a lot of my clients had dogs too. They started asking me if I could work on their dogs, at first I just used the techniques I had learned on the horses and adjusted them to the dogs and then I did my first dogcentric course, Smart Bowen Small Animal Essentials with Leah Smart.
How long ago, and how?
I started as a horse therapist about 17 years ago, so I probably started with the dogs about 15 years ago. As I mentioned I started on request of my horse owning clients, then when I wanted to expand the dog side of my business I attended a few dogs shows with a trade stand, and that kicked off the dog side quite nicely.
What do you do?
I am a Remedial Therapist for dogs, cats, pets and farm animals (these all come under the Pet Miracle banner).
I use various gentle soft tissue and joint mobilisation techniques to release tension in the body, improve circulation, relieve pain, aid in recovery from surgery or injury and improve performance.
I also give out simple, safe exercise tips to strengthen dogs, and I can advise on how to manage the home to make is safe for puppies and seniors, or any dog with arthritis.
Since that first Bowen Therapy course I have also qualified in Canine Remedial Massage with the Canine Health Academy in Melbourne, Canine Joint Articulation with Dr Stuart MacGregor of the UK and Sure Paws Canine Stability System Therapist and Education. I am a member of the Australian Canine Rehabilitation Association.
There have been many short courses in between, some online (which have been great recently) and some physical courses.
Currently I am training to be a CAM Advocate Level 1, CAM stands for Canine Arthritis Management which is an organisation started in the UK by a Hannah, who is a vet.
Tell me about else what you offer
As well as being a therapist I also teach a 2 day course for dog owners and trainers, Pet Miracle Canine Bodyworkz. Over the two days participants learn many different ways to assess their dog for pain and dysfunction, then how to release it using 3 different methods.
How can people work with you?
My business is mobile, I prefer to see pets in their own home, where they are most relaxed. I can then also assess the home for potential hazards, or just things we can change to make life more comfortable for the pet.
I have a small portable grooming table I usually use for the small dogs, otherwise I can sit on the floor, on the couch, or even stand up for some of the giant breed dogs. If I am working with a cow or a Llama or similar then we might put a halter on them, or put them in a small yard or something, just to keep them from wandering off.
Sometimes I meet people with their dogs, at a mutually agreed venue, if they live too far away or I can't fit them in at a convenient time at their home. This is usually a showground, or park. This can work for some defensive dogs too, who are too protective of their home territory.
I live in Nowra, Sth Coast NSW, so I work in this area, I also visit Canberra regularly, and pre-covid I would visit Darwin twice a year.
For the Canine Bodyworkz clinic, I am happy to teach that anywhere in Australia or NZ, I just need a local person who is interested in organising the details, booking a venue, advertising etc.
Tell me about your own dogs - and are they involved in the business?
My own dogs have always been involved, they are my therapy practice pets, and I watch them too, learning more about biomechanics, movement, lameness etc.
My partner and I have 4 dogs, 3 we have taken into our care because family members can no longer look after them, and 1 that I chose, his name is Happy!
Happy was nearly 8yo when we he came home with us, he had no knowledge of the world outside of a house/backyard, severe chronic ear infections and murderously expensive gut health.
Happy is now ear infection free and can eat most things without dramatic after effects, and that has been a long journey.
But I am so, so proud of his achievements out on the trail, he has gone from a flat-footed bumbling giant puppy to a confident four wheel drive dog, he clambers over boulders and up cliffs, crosses rivers, leaps fallen trees and uses his nose.
Initially Happy didn't use his nose for anything much, that we could see, now his nose goes down and he is off on a scent trail. I did spend a lot of time playing scent games with him which probably helped, but I think the most important thing was having him out in the bush.
Our other dogs, in order of age are: Archie, Ellie and Hairy. They each weigh 6.4kgs (how wierd is that?) but are quite different looking dogs. Our dogs range from nearly 10 to nearly 14 years old.
What's the best thing about what you do?
The best thing about what I do? Everything, except maybe for the driving bit!
I do get a lot of pleasure from seeing a dog that no one can diagnose a lameness and being able to find and fix the problem. I don't diagnose because I am not a vet, but I can feel or see when something is wrong. Unlike our vets who are mostly GP's or Surgeons, All I do, Every Day is musculoskeletal issues, nothing else.
I also love working with senior pets, often their owners have been told there is nothing else that can be done to help the dog or cat. Then I come along and they feel better, move better and with a few changes around the house the pet can live more comfortably, for longer.
Did you know the leading cause of euthanasia of dogs in the UK is arthritis?? So many dogs and cats have gone from not being able to walk and being incontinent, to striding around the block and taking themselves outside to toilet. Usually within 2 or 3 sessions.
What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
I don't listen to much music, I am more a nature sounds and audible book type woman.
What's the most recent photo on your phone?
Ha ha, it's a photo of a picture! A quirky kind of a horse picture that means a lot to me emotionally and is hanging on my office wall.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee, I have my own machine and use organic beans/lactose free milk. I bet that gives the real coffee people the horrors!
Thanks so much to Robyn for taking the time out to talk about her business. Take a look at her website here