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Chatting out of the sewing box – my way to the dog physio

Hundephysio Beruf - Doggy Fitness Martina Flocken Hundephysiotherapie

I was not born a dog physio. Phew, so now it’s out. 😉

“What does the dog as a vocation mean to you?”

I asked myself this question as part of the blogparade by Anna Meissner from “The dog as a vocation” and would like to answer the question of many readers of the blog who ask me again and again “How did you actually come to become a physiotherapist for dogs”. As a blogger, you inevitably share your life with your readers – even on various social media channels. But I haven’t really talked out of the sewing box on my blog here yet. So I have to take a deep breath, because today it’s not about joint diseases, exercises and tips, but about my personal story.

So here is my personal story on the way to the dog physio

My love for animals has actually been with me all my life. A life without animals – unimaginable for me. But the fact that a profession has something to do with a vocation was not so clear to me at the age of 18. I did hear the “calling” and also felt it, but the influence from outside was simply stronger. So to learn a profession that has to do with animals, shortly after my high school graduation unimaginable. Influenced by the good coaxing of the family, I learned “something sensible” first. So I quickly became successful in the hotel business and when, at around 24, I had the choice of managing a hotel as my next step, I already had the thought “that can’t be all – there must be more”.

However, that initially led to me applying to a media agency. The media industry always sounds cool. There, too, I quickly became successful. But not happier. Driven by an unshakable ambition, I worked many, many hours a week, earned good money and got a lot of recognition.

Still – I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was not happy. The only thing that made me happy in this constellation was my dog boy at the time, Juan, who faithfully accompanied me to the agency every day and finally tipped the scales in favor of me taking action and thinking things over. So there was always this quiet calling that told me “there’s something else”.

Then, at the age of 28, I made the decision: before I’m 30, I have to change something. I thought a lot, listened to myself. What would fulfill me professionally and make me happy? What could I imagine? The next promotion, the next pay raise, the next big company car. All of this certainly not.

The desire to work with animals became more and more present and took shape. I started researching what opportunities there were to combine my love of animals with my profession. Studying veterinary medicine in your late 20s? That didn’t seem very tangible to me and also difficult to realize because of my circumstances. And I liked to spend intensive and conscious time with the animals. Be able to take my time. And I realized more and more that I would like to work independently.

I then came across the training to become a physiotherapist for dogs. That fascinated me incredibly right away. An intense work, be in contact with dogs and cats and that too independently.

I did not think about it for long – I have to admit – I wanted to become a dog physiotherapist.

Despite working 70 hours a week at the agency, I signed up for the training. Over a good 1.5 years, this now meant a double burden. Continue to manage my workload at the agency in a leadership position while cramming every free second and taking classes on the weekends. But it finally felt like the right way to go.

When I told my manager that I wanted to leave the agency, I was not even deterred by his statement “If you think you want to put Waldi’s paw in from now on”. He wasn’t the only one who thought I was crazy to trade a well-paying job for a vision and a dream.

My own practice – a dream come true

I did not let myself be swayed and loved this profession from the very first hour. My plan for my own practice with the right equipment and the business plan were in place. Just in time for the passed exam the practice was renovated ready for the first patients. I had no doubts. Because I had followed the “call” and could now finally live my vocation. With my dogs and for dogs.

Five wonderful years I got to know many great dogs, cats and people and experienced many touching moments. I lived my vocation. Finally.

But my vocation developed further

Especially through my two dog girls Tessa and Snowy , who always accompanied me to the practice and were a great support for me, the dog owners but also the other dogs, the idea grew to want to create something new and different. I felt how much something helped Snowy with all her handicaps, not only to be treated physiotherapeutically, but especially with active movement training had much more security and made progress. I also worked with Tessa a lot with active training, which gave her a lot of security as a fear dog.

And so, thanks to Tessa and Snowy, the idea of Doggy Fitness was born and I was given the chance to develop myself and my vocation anew. The idea of providing dog owners, like my patient owners, with a comprehensive exercise concept tailored to the needs of their four-legged friends, so that they can do something themselves and help their dogs to progress, never left me.

Again, everyone thought I was crazy – but we know that already

So in mid-2015 I started to work on a concept and to develop and test exercises with Tessa and Snowy that I could give to dog owners. They should be easy to implement, not prone to errors, yet effective and, above all, easy to integrate into everyday life. Only the way how it should reach the dog owners was not yet quite clear.

All I knew was that I wanted to go digital (too) and take the concept to a level that didn’t exist before. Again, everyone declared me crazy. But I already knew that: head shaking and eye rolling….

So I started to deal with the topic “video” and online courses respectively e-learning. A completely new field. But I wanted to learn everything myself again from scratch.
The basis of the concept was to be a blog where dog owners would find valid information about exercise and musculoskeletal disorders. Because already in practice I noticed again and again that dog owners had a hard time to find comprehensive and understandable information about the disease of their dog, or even tips on how they can support their dog in everyday life.

So I thought I’d “build” a website myself – using WordPress – and start blogging. At that time, plugins, widgets and all the other “website jargon” were completely new to me. Easier said than done, but in my unbroken enthusiasm I didn’t let myself be stopped and spent nights building my website.

Quickly the first readers were found and I got many questions and an intensive dialogue with many readers developed. Their questions and problems helped me to implement my concept in a very targeted way.

Extremely valuable and indispensable for me in the development of my courses.

Dog owner-dog-and-everyday-just

After a good 1.5 years of tweaking the concept, redesigning the idea umpteen times, “Fit durchs Leben” was ready at the beginning of 2017. My first book, which contained 25 exercises for dog owners and was the “precursor” to my courses.

But now the courses should also finally be “born”. That meant again a lot, a lot of technique and try & error. After many months full of shooting videos, creating training plans, editing videos, designing the courses, the first 5 online video courses for dog owners were finally ready in September 2017. In the meantime, this has grown into10 courses, tailored to a wide variety of needs.

I admit, I had doubts – and yet I couldn’t wait

My great doubts as to whether such an idea, which has not yet existed in this form, would be viable quickly vanished into thin air.

A constantly growing number of dog owners have great pleasure and also great success in being active with their own four-legged friends. Helplessness is taken away from them and the dogs have more zest for life and are clearly fitter. The feedback from course participants, who report to me enthusiastically and are so happy, shows me every time anew that it is worthwhile to stick to an idea (which is apparently crazy for others) and to turn one’s dream and vision into reality.

So, personally, I can say it didn’t “hurt” at all to be so open about yourself, even if it’s not easy. But I like to show and tell openly that it is not always the direct and straight path that one takes in life. There are many twists, turns and perhaps tangles. The most important thing, however, is that you arrive for yourself and are happy.

How are you doing? Have you already found your calling? Are you wishing or even already living your “calling in the dog world”? If so, what does it look like? Feel free to write me a comment, I’m excited!

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