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Cath Nicoll, DogsBody Canine Massage, Gloucestershire

First of all I chose Nat`s course as the others looked to me, rather too relaxing and fluffy and seemed to get across that you could do a decent massage on a dog without going too deep. There was no one to talk to about the other courses I saw (or no one willing to speak to me) but when I saw The Canine Massage Therapy Diploma I just looked at it and immediately thought “this is the one for me”. I rang to speak to Nat and managed to get hold of her immediately and we had a great discussion. I clearly remember Nat telling me to make sure I looked at the other courses available to make sure that hers was the one I wanted to do.

She was very honest about how committed I would need to be to the course and I had to be self driven in being able to complete modules. I also remember her telling me that I had to be physically fit as there would be a lot of floor work with the dogs and potentially long hours on the floor if I had treatment after treatment to conduct. Nat asked me why I wanted to do the course. I now realise that she was trying to establish that I wanted to do it as a career and not just for a hobby. It never crossed my mind that this course would be suitable for just personal use as it was so indepth it seemed mad to me to even think about doing it just for personal hobby although it has been like a hobby as it has been so much fun!

I have to say that throughout the Diploma course Nat has been nothing but encouraging and enthusiastic. Her enthusiasm for our success was always at the top of her thoughts and she has encouraged me throughout always giving positive feedback and if any mistakes were made, she would have a constructive way of advising me rather than just telling me I was wrong.

The practical weekends were always fun – hard work but fun. She made them interesting and entertaining whilst still getting us to learn so much. When it came to her teaching us palpation skills she was more than happy to come over and get us to feel things and explain in an easy way how, for example, a strain would feel. She put a lot of trust in us and never doubted our ability. If we had to go over things time and time again she would always be patient – she never made me feel stupid or incompetent even if I thought I was at times!

A few times I took my video camera to the sessions and Nat always allowed me to record her demonstrating massage and palpation techniques which has been totally invaluable as far as I am concerned. She was willing to slow down or repeat things so that I could get it on video.

What really impresses me is the fact that Nat has so much skill but she has not hesitated to pass her knowledge on to us, always willing to show us wonderful techniques which have made her top of her game.

If things couldn`t get any better I then got the wonderful opportunity to attend Crufts as a qualified therapist on her stand with the Canine Massage Therapy Centre promoting the launch of the Canine Massage Guild, an association for Canine Massage Therapists who have trained exclusively with her. All this so that I could gain invaluable experience on discussing canine massage, the benefits as well as getting hands-on experience of performing muscular health check on dogs. I still can`t believe I was handed this opportunity on a plate – there was no catch, Nat just wanted me to make the most of this experience by telling me that if I handle Crufts okay, any other trade show will be easy. As a result of this I have booked a pitch at a local show in May and feel confident and not at all nervous about doing it. I picked up so many tips on how to talk to people and how to assess dogs on the spot just as I have seen Nat do and how to assess if Therapeutic Canine Massage is the right therapy for their dog. My confidence has increased as a result of Crufts and Nat has been paramount in making sure that happens for all of us.

I have just started up my business and it has been a new and wonderful experience. I have kept costs down by using my garage space as a treatment room. I am lucky to have a dad who is very hands-on with manual work and he did all of the work required to make sure the garage was a suitable space. I admit I have spent probably £2k on setting up business with my website, logo design, business cards, car logo advertisement etc but this was money I did save knowing that this was my intention when I started the course. Nat has shared her experiences of setting up business and has passed on useful information on things such as not wasting money on things that do not work. She told us what she spent time and money on, what works and importantly what doesnt; she has done the leg work for us students and passes on her knowledge at all times.

Nat has been passing on contacts to me – she referred someone to me who contacted her for a treatment and she suggested a lady from Wales as a case study for me – in the end I had 2 case studies from this lady and this lady has also recommended others to me!

For anyone wanting to do the Diploma I would say “go for it”. Make sure you are physically fit, save some money for not only the books required, but for stuff you will need for setting up your business. If you do this at the start it won`t seem so much of a financial burden when you do qualify. There are probably others in my group who have started up business with less money than I did – to be honest I could have spent less. You need to be totally committed. I gave up my job at The Bank to concentrate all my time on this. I was lucky to be in a position to be able to do this. For anyone who is working full time – be realistic – can you commit the time to the course?

Nat marked my modules generally within 1-2 weeks of me sending them to her – her feedback was always positive and constructive.
I feel so lucky to have had Nat as my tutor and now my mentor. I could so easily have decided to do another massage course had I not come across The Canine Massage Therapy Centre`s Diploma but once I saw this my reaction was an instant “this is definitely the course for me” – I like proving myself to be right!

Thanks Nat you have been brilliant – I really appreciate all you have done for me and all you continue to do for me and I am proud and honoured to be associated with you and The Canine massage Guild!

Cath Nicoll, DogsBody Canine Massage, Gloucestershire