How it all began...
The Story of Tucker
My interest in animal physical therapy developed from my own dog, a golden retriever, named Tucker. In 1998, Tucker was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia at eight months of age and due to the severity of his condition, the board certified orthopedic veterinary surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston was adamant that he would require a hip replacement after he was fully grown. Being a physical therapy student at the time, I knew that every person who undergoes a hip replacement has intensive physical therapy.
And I knew that Tucker deserved the best treatment and care possible, including physical therapy! Determined to learn enough to translate my physical therapy knowledge over to my dog’s body, I began researching the field of animal physical therapy. I discovered that the animal physical therapy field was just emerging in the United States.
I went on a mission to learn everything I could to help him. I was amazed to discover the very first course in the United States had just been created for physical therapists. So, of course I traveled from Rhode Island down to Tennessee to take a weekend course called “Introduction to Canine Physical Therapy” at the University of Tennessee veterinary school.
I got home and said, “That was the best weekend of my life!” It was only a very basic introduction and there was still so much to learn, but it became the start of a new career path that blended my two passions – dogs and physical therapy! How perfect!
My new goal was to help not just Tucker, but thousands of dogs...
After that first course, I took several canine physical therapy continuing education courses offered to physical therapists as they became available, and I did a tremendous amount of self-study, and observed canine surgeries and studied and learned invaluable information at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. I began doing physical therapy with dogs in 2000.
Tucker has since passed on (sadly, he got cancer when he was 12 years old), but he lived a long, happy, active life with strong legs. He loved fetching tennis balls!
I provided the easy-to-do, yet necessary physical therapy for him daily. And I taught my family members to carry out the daily home program too (which again, was very simple, by the way).
Tucker never needed surgery. And his legacy lives on…
Name Changes and More History...
What has become Canine Rehab Hub was originally founded as “PT 4 Animals” in 2000 by me, Julie McKinney Miller (formerly Julie Stuart).
I received a Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Rhode Island after doing three years of graduate level education and clinical rotations. I have been a licensed physical therapist since 2001. I began working with dogs during my 3rd year of PT school. It’s sometimes hard to believe that I’ve now been doing physical therapy for dogs for more than two decades.
I began my career treating dogs part-time as a 3rd-year graduate student and upon graduation and licensure, I began treating people in the mornings and animals the rest of the time – in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends, in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. My animal physical therapy practice took off quickly and within a year post graduation, I no longer had time to treat people.
Plus, dogs were way more fun anyway!
My Time at Tufts Vet School...
I was hired by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2001 to serve as their physical therapist for both small and large animals. The majority of my practice was in treating dogs, however over the course of my 8 years of working at the veterinary hospital, I got to treat several other species, such as horses, miniature horses, goats, a zebra, wallaby, opossum, and more.
I was the 2nd physical therapist in the United States to be hired by a veterinary school, which seems kinda cool.
While at Tufts, I treated primarily orthopedic and neurological patients, but I also worked with animals in the intensive care unit and performed immediate post-op care in the surgical suite.
When it was time for dogs to go home, I met with their families at discharge and taught them everything they needed to know to carry out the physical therapy at home. Thousands of these sessions gave me a unique expertise in creating home physical therapy programs individualized to each dog. This is very empowering for dog parents…and I truly believe that is the key to reach the best outcome for dogs after orthopedic and neurological injuries and surgeries.
In 2002, in order to better serve my clients as outpatients, I opened my own facility, New England Physical Therapy for Animals (NEPTA), where I had an in-ground pool with a current specifically created for dogs. Once the dogs were discharged from the Tufts hospital, I treated many of them as outpatients at my nearby facility.
Move To Knoxville, Tennessee...
I moved to Knoxville, TN in 2008 and dropped the “New England” from the business name, making it simply Physical Therapy for Animals. I have done many home visits and I also worked in the physical rehabilitation department at University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital for approximately 2 1/2 years, treating mostly dogs and an occasional cat.
These have all been extremely valuable experiences, giving me a wide range and an extensive amount of experience. It took me a long time to “own it”, but I can now admit that I am an expert in treating canine neurological and orthopedic conditions.
After leaving UT, I worked with people in home health, performing physical therapy for patients with a vast array of health and mobility issues, including several orthopedic and neurological conditions.
Making a Larger, Heart-Based Impact...
But, my heart belongs to the dogs and their people. So, I came up with a dream to help as many dogs and their people as possible. And it quickly became apparent that by offering programs, courses, and consulting online, I would be able to reach dogs and their parents all around the world and make a much larger impact!
So I dove into learning how to run an online business full-force. Let’s just say that technology is not my strength. But, I persevered through huge learning curves because of my love for dogs!
And now, I am excited to say that it’s no longer just thousands of dogs. I am on a mission to help make a positive difference for a MILLION dogs and their families.
And that is what Canine Rehab Hub is all about…
Want to join this mission with me? Want to discover really beneficial and useful tips and strategies to help your dog(s)?
It all starts with a program that is near and dear to my heart called “Become Your Dog’s Hero”… want to hear more about how this can drastically improve your dog’s life and empower you to be an even better dog mom or dad?