Carla Campbell: Healing dogs, horses, and cats through massage therapy

by Chrisie Wendin on August 7, 2010

Carla Campbell with client Rocket

Her official profession is canine and equine bodyworker, but Carla Campbell doesn’t mind if you simply call her a massage therapist for dogs and horses. She admits that either title garners a lot of questions: Do you actually make a living that way? Did you have to go school for it? Are your clients a bunch of over-indulgent pet owners?

Yes, yes, and no — are the respective answers. Carla, who spent her previous career working in the technology industry, has logged more than 1,200 hours of training, working on horses, dogs, and the occasional cat. She has steadily built up her Menlo-based business, Quadrussage, over the past 11 years. While she sees some animals in her home studio, you’ll often find Carla in the places her four-legged clients frequent, such as horse stables throughout the area, Dog Days training classes in Atherton’s Holbrook-Palmer Park, or the monthly clinics she holds at the Pet Place in Menlo Park.

Our visit to the doggie masseuse

Now back to that last question: What kind of person springs for a pet massage? Well, this InMenlo correspondent for one. And now that my secret’s out, I can assure you it really makes perfect sense. Our exuberant, ball-obsessed dog had an on-again/off-again limp that the vet couldn’t satisfactorily address. His suggestion? Lay off the retrieving. Try telling that to Rocket, our 18-month-old duck tolling retriever.

Carla Campbell, pet masseuseSo, for about half the price of the vet visit, we went to see Carla. With her acute sense of touch, Carla who is blind, provided more feedback and insight about his condition than the vet had. Over the course of a few sessions, she began loosening him up, gently working both the problem areas and the pleasure spots like neck and ears. Needless to say, Rocket quickly found his way to doggie nirvana. Carla also taught us how to properly stretch out his muscles to avoid future injuries, and so far so good. Now, like many clients, we are continuing to see Carla for maintenance.

Wellness is for animals too

My experience is typical of many of Carla’s regular canine clients, whose owners initially find their way to her when a pet has had an injury or suffers from a chronic condition. Carla also works with many older animals who suffer from arthritis, as well as performance dogs like agility competitors.

Bodywork for dogs and cats, along with other non-traditional approaches like veterinary chiropractory and animal physical therapy are part of a growing trend in the pet world, and one that locals are embracing. “People here in general are more open to alternative healthcare — as they are for themselves. And, obviously, they have to have some disposable income,” notes Carla.

For Carla, it’s all about interacting with the animals. “I love working with them because there’s nothing psychosomatic — it either works or it doesn’t. And they aren’t going to put up with things that aren’t doing them any good,” she says.

Next Pet Place clinic

To check out Carla’s work and see if massage therapy is right for your pet, stop by the next Pet Place clinic (777 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park) on Saturday, August 21, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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