Denise Dubarbier, Kennel Manager, Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare.

“Fiona first came through our doors in June 2009, as a volunteer dog walker. However, at that time, little did we realize that she had so much more to offer the greyhounds in our care.

Fiona, a fully qualified animal physiotherapist, soon picked up on the greyhounds that weren’t moving quite as freely as they should. Now I’m not talking anything major here; but just a slight shortening of a step, a slight imbalance when they moved, or a gait or rhythm which didn’t feel right. She would come back into our yard with the greyhound and have a chat with us about them. Sometimes we were able to fill her in on that particular greyhound’s history, and at other times we were not able to help, but Fiona would very quickly pinpoint the most likely cause, and with our agreement lay her ‘healing hands’ on the hound in question.

Fiona always moves around our hounds in a quiet, reassuring way. They are perfectly comfortable in her company and willingly lay down to enjoy their own, individual, physiotherapy session. More often than not, at the end of their session, they are so relaxed that they have gone off to sleep.

Fiona visits us on a weekly basis, and has built up quite a clientele list. There are several greyhounds that she sees each time she visits, so that she can keep abreast of their progress. They may not need physiotherapy each time, but it means that any problems are picked up on straight away. Then there are the new kids on the block, who have come into our kennels with an injury which would benefit from physiotherapy. Fiona has the time and patience for them all, and her feedback to us is clear, concise, and enables us to pass on any relevant information to their prospective new owners.

Of course, there are our resident oldies, who, with age, are finding that they lack the mobility and ease of joints that they knew in their youth. A session with Fiona makes such a difference to their quality of life. I’m not talking miracles here. Lassie at thirteen will never skip round the paddock again like a spring lamb, but the whole experience leaves her relaxed and contented, and with a very knowing smirk on her face.”