“As I becomes We, We become One – united we can make a difference in the world.”
Proud to be the owner of such a unique facility, Natalie is a long-time Registered Veterinary Technician. Her specialty pet care services include Canine Swimming & Hydrotherapy (using water for the benefit of physical and psychological wellness) and Fitness Training (cross training for optimal body conditioning).
A San Diego native, Natalie has been working in the professional field of veterinary medicine since 1980 and received her California RVT certification in 1987.
In the mid to late 1990’s, with a strong interest in post-injury rehabilitation and the emerging field of physical therapy for animals, Natalie began working with Physical Therapists and Veterinary surgeons in Los Angeles. By 1999 she was one of only three people in Southern California working in this specialized field, and the only veterinary professional.
Between 1999 and 2001 Natalie was encouraged by a physical therapist in the Los Angeles area to continue her education and hands-on experience. She attended the first International Symposium of Animal Physical Therapy and then went on to complete course work in Canine Physical Rehabilitation at the University of Tennessee/Knoxville. Through these training and education programs, Natalie acquired various certificates in Canine Rehabilitation as well as massage and pet nutrition.
In 2002 a strong desire to help homeless animals led her to shift her focus to shelter animals where she worked behind the scenes in the medical center for five years. Since then, she has been helping local dog rescue organizations and has become an advocate for homeless pets, particularly dogs with physical and/or behavioral challenges. Thankfully, her husband and animal kids at home have the patience needed to help with the rehabilitation, so the homeless critters can reach their adoption potential.
In 2007, while helping a special homeless dog named Sadie who had a bad knee (torn cruciate ligament), Natalie met Alison White, owner of The Total Dog Swim & Gym. Natalie immediately began volunteering, working on Sadie’s recovery from ACL surgery as well as helping Alison’s clients.
In June of 2009, along with an associate, Natalie purchased The Total Dog and renewed its purpose – with increased focus on post surgical recovery and cross-training fitness programs. Next, they had to “go bigger or go home” and by perfect happenstance found the current facility building…3000+ sq ft, all indoors.
As owner of this innovative center for animal well-being, Natalie continues to develop relationships and work closely with the veterinarians of San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties. By responding to pet owner demand, working with the veterinarians, and continuing her education in the field of rehab, The Total Dog is able to provide an optimal environment for canine fitness and injury recovery.
Natalie considers herself fortunate to have the passion, training and education to do what she is meant to do – help pets get on their feet again.
San Diego Veterinary Medical Association
California Veterinary Medical Association
California Registered Veterinary Technician Association
North American Veterinary Technician Association
International Association of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
American Canine Sports Medicine Association
American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians
Related Coursework & Certificates:
Basic Science for the Animal Physical Therapist, Orthopedic Sect. APTA
Introduction to Small Animal Physical Therapy, NES/lab Clark & Gross
Canine Physical Rehabilitation Short Course, UTCVM/Lecture & Lab
Canine Rehabilitation – I, NES/UTCVM
Canine Rehabilitation – II, NES/UTCVM
Ongoing CE and Coursework in Animal Rehabilitation
Heather Urie, CCFT
Heather moved here from the East Coast in 2012 and found a passion at The Total Dog very quickly. She graduated with degrees in Animal Science and Psychology and has had years of experience with dogs, cats, farm animals and exotic animals.
For the first few years Heather worked hard assisting Natalie, running various aspects of the business and training numerous dogs to swim safely and to have fun while doing so.
At the end of 2015, Heather became a co-owner of the business and continues to train many dogs each day in the art of safe swimming along with assisting in injury recovery and strengthening. Heather completed the Certified Canine Fitness Trainer course in 2018, adding credentials to her proven expertise in the field of canine fitness. She enjoys interacting with the diverse clientele and their furry companions, and will greet you and your dog at the front door with a big smile!