Why I became a canine physiotherapist

Roonie the reason I became a canine physiotherapist by Michelle Monk

Human Physiotherapy to Canine Physiotherapy

Over 20 years ago I started my physio journey as a human physio because I wanted to help
people to have a better quality of life and mobility. Having always had a huge love for dogs, it
was a natural progression to shift my skills over to animals. In 2004 I completed my Masters
Degree in Animal Physiotherapy and my award-winning research proved we could help dogs
recover faster and get back to doing what they love with their owners sooner with the benefits of physiotherapy.

I knew this was what I wanted to do but it wasn't until I met Roonie that it was solidified in every part of my being.

Saving Roonie's Life

Roonie the dachshund came into my life when she was 4 years old as one of my patients. Roonie had a disc herniation that required emergency surgery. Following the surgery, Roonie couldn't walk at all. This effected not just her mobility but also her toileting and other functions.

Her owners were told she was unlikely to ever walk again as her condition was so severe. Her owners were not able to care for her in this condition and decided it was best to put her to sleep. This was when I became aware of her situation.

I asked her parents if they would be willing to hand her over to my family. We would care for her and rehabilitate her and give her whatever she needed. They agreed and the journey through rehabilitation began.

She joined our family that included two Hungarian Vizslas and we went off on an adventure of physio 5 times a day, nappies, harnesses, playpens, sleepless nights, wheelchairs, and hydrotherapy. All aimed towards re-educating her body to walk again. After 5 months she was able to finally walk. Against all the odds we were able to get her there.

Roonie the Dachshund

Roonie went on to spend many more years as a happy and valued member of our family. She joined our other Vizsla dogs, slept on the couch (aided by a ramp of course) and came on dog inclusive holidays with us.

Through Roonie, I was able to see first-hand the impact that giving people and dogs more time, or better quality time, and quality physiotherapy could have. Now, every day, I am driven to help more dogs, so that I can give this gift to more people.

There are many jobs out there that may seem 'thankless', but I get thanked by my canine patients every single time they visit - from licks, to tail wags, to a sprinkling of fur on my floor. If puppy love were a currency, I'd be top of the rich list.

Dogs in Motion Michelle Monks dogs Toby Lily Roonie
Dogs in Motion Michelle Monks dogs Toby Lily Roonie

Toby and The First Canine Rehab Centre

The picture above is of Roonie with our Hungarian Vizslas Toby and Lily. Early in his life, Toby needed some training, like most dogs do. His dog trainer was the owner of an indoor heated pool for dogs and I used to take him there regularly and witness the dogs in the pool.

One day the trainer decided to put the business up for sale, and because I was already familiar with the benefits of having access to an indoor pool my husband and I decided to buy it. I could see how the hydrotherapy combined with physiotherapy could improve the results and the lives of so many more dogs. So if it weren't for Toby, we would never have started the first rehab centre for dogs in Australia!

The love and loss of canines

We have had many dogs come and go in our lives. Toby pictured here on the left sadly died at 4 years of age from severe, uncontrolled epilepsy. Lily, the little girl Vizsla was my 'soul dog'. She touched a part of my heart with her sweetness and spunk, but sadly left too early at age 11 due to cancer.

Rescue dog Roonie, despite her challenges, lived to the ripe old age of 13! We have had the pleasure of sharing our lives with a rescue Collie called Lassie who died at 13, and our beautiful Boxer boy who was a re-homed doggie 'Henry' who passed at the young age of 4 from a brain tumour.

We have known much love, but also much heartache and it never gets any easier. Like everyone I meet, we all wish our fur babies could be with us longer and this is what drives me on a daily basis.

Our current fur family

Currently, the furry component of our family consists of Oscar the Vizsla, who was re-homed to us at 1 and is now 9 and thankfully as fit as a fiddle. And our other boy Maximus, another Vizsla, just turned 3. Max is the first pup we’ve raised in many years. What fun that's been!

Maximus is a typical crazy young Vizsla, in love with his pal Oscar, can often be seen lazing on the couch with his humans! As a family, along with our two gorgeous 2 legged kids, we love the beach, the park, and just hanging out and of course, our four-legged canines are always part of everything we do.

So, as you can see we’ve had our fair share of great loves, happiness, heartaches, huge vet bills, and the loss of several dogs. This is all part of life with a dog and this understanding and passion is the basis of everything we do at Dogs In Motion.

Life with a dog is not always happy, and not always fair, but every dog owner agrees that any challenges along the way are far outweighed by the bottomless pit of unconditional love that all dogs have to share.

Well, that's a bit about our fur family. So now when you see me at the clinic you'll know a bit more about us.

Thanks for following along and we look forward to supporting you and your canine(s) in sharing many more years of happy and healthy memories together.

Michelle & Greg

Dogs in Motion Michelle Monks dog Maximus

With the right exercise, nutrition and mindset your dog can live a happier, healthier and longer life with you. Find out the right treatment for your dog by booking an assessment with one of our qualified canine physiotherapists at the Dogs in Motion Melbourne clinic or if you can't make it to the clinic we also offer online appointments now too.

About Michelle Monk

I am completely passionate about providing access to rehabilitation for as many dogs and their owners as possible. Not just through my own clinics but also by teaching other health professionals such as Vets, Vet Nurses and Physiotherapists how to provide quality rehabilitation in their clinics.