meet Our instructors
Founder, Lead Instructor, LMT, CVMRT, NCCMT
Denise has been a licensed human massage therapist for over 30 years, and her experience working with animals stretches over 20 of those years. She is nationally certified in human massage through NCBTMB, she holds national certification as a canine massage therapist through NBCAAM, is certified in Pet First Aid and CPR, and she is certified in Veterinary Massage and Rehabilitation Therapy through The Healing Oasis. Denise studied animal massage and canine behavior through a variety of programs across the country. She is a graduate of Animal Sense Academy, now known as FetchFind Academy, and a past mentee of Jamie Damato of FetchFind. Denise became a pioneer in the field of canine massage when she founded her canine massage business, Pet-ri-ssage Ltd., in 1998. After 12 years of operating her dual practice Deeply Kneaded Therapeutic Massage, which cared for both 2-legged and 4-legged clients, Denise established the Chicago School of Canine Massage in 2008. CSCM has been an industry leader offering the most comprehensive hands-on program in the world.
Denise’s background as a human and canine massage therapist and educator, dog trainer, athletic trainer, and certified personal trainer (NASM) add a unique level of insight and precision to her work with the canine athlete and those with behavioral challenges. As canine bodywork and massage continue to evolve, Denise continues to learn and apply multiple disciplines to bring the most cutting edge bodywork education to the animal world.
Denise lives in Chicago with her partner and 4-legged companions Jackson, Lucy, Stanley, and Eos.
Co-Founder, Lead Instructor, NCCMT, NCCAP
Sara May is a graduate of the Chicago School of Canine Massage and has been certified in Canine Massage Therapy since 2011. In 2012, she achieved national certification in canine massage through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM). At the same time, she became an instructor at the Chicago School of Canine Massage. She continues to learn and seek educational opportunities to expand her knowledge and experience. In 2016, she earned her national certification in Canine Acupressure, also through NBCAAM. Sara is certified in Pet First Aid and CPR.
As a former college English instructor, Sara is a strong advocate for education. One of the favorite aspects of her work is teaching massage classes to pet parents, shelter staff and volunteers, and prospective therapists. Through education, she believes that the value and importance of canine massage and bodywork can be understood, shared, and appreciated by an ever-increasing audience.
Sara has a thriving private practice in northern Virginia and works part-time as a canine massage therapist and acupressure practitioner at Wholistic Paws Veterinary Services in Ashburn, VA. She lives in Purcellville, VA with her husband Terry, son Jonathan, dog Annabelle, cats Hufflepuff and Lula, ball python Kiara, and a tank full of fish.
Lead Instructor, NCCMT, RP
After spending 20+ years in advertising as an Art Director, Alyson Snelling went after her life-long dream of working with animals. In 2015, Alyson gained her certification in Canine Massage Therapy, Pet CPR and First Aid through the Chicago School of Canine Massage. She is Nationally Certified through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupuncture & Massage (NBCAAM) and an attuned Animal and Human Master Level Reiki Practitioner. Alyson has also been involved with several local rescue groups as both a foster parent and volunteer. She is dedicated to continuing to build her knowledge of canine massage, holistic modalities, animal behavior and communication. Her goal as a Canine Massage Therapist is to provide comfort and healing to those in need, and to educate parents on helping maintain a healthy lifestyle for their pets. Alyson offers in-home canine massage therapy through her practice Ash & Oak Canine Massage in the Greater St. Louis area.
Aside from her love of animals, Alyson is an avid gardener, foodie, and occasional knitter. She lives in Old Historic Ferguson, MO with her husband Sam, their rescue dogs Ibbie, Arturo, and Bishop.
Dr. Megan Ridley
Lead Instructor, DVM | CVA, CCRT, CVSMT
Dr. Ridley is a veterinarian and medical director at Integrative Pet Care in Chicago with 10 years of emergency medical experience. She received her doctorate of veterinary medicine in 2001 from Cornell University. She is a certified canine rehabilitation therapist (CCRT) through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute, a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA) through the Chi Institute, and a certified veterinary spinal manipulation therapist (CVSMT) through The Healing Oasis. Dr. Ridley is also the president of the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarian (AARV). She has special interest in rehabilitative medicine, geriatric medicine and special needs pets.
Dr. Ridley lives in Chicago with her two cats, Lulu and Lorenzo. In her free time she enjoys travel and dining out in Chicago.
Instructor, NCCMT, CVMRT, LAT/ATC, RP
Katie has always had a passion for animals, exercise and helping others. She received her BS in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in Athletic Training from NIU. She started her professional career in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training. Later in her career, she decided to follow through with her love for animals and further her education.
In 2015 she became a Certified Veterinary Massage and Rehab Therapist (CVMRT), through Healing Oasis Wellness Center. She then began working as an Animal Rehab Therapist at Integrative Pet Care. She continued to expand her knowledge and completed the Advanced Canine Massage Therapy program at Chicago School of Canine Massage in 2016. After she graduated, she sat for the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage and became a Nationally Certified Canine Massage Therapist (NCCMT). She is also certified in Pet CPR & First Aid through Pet Tech and a Level 2 Reiki Practitioner. She runs her practice, Physio Pet Massage, in the Glendale Heights, IL area.
Katie wants to share her knowledge about animal massage, behavior and rehabilitation. Her goal is to naturally help improve animal health through massage and exercise.
Katie lives in the West Suburbs of Chicago, with her husband Rob, cat Elliott and dogs Scrabble & Rufus. She spends her spare time volunteering at local animal shelters, going to concerts, traveling and running.
Instructor, NCCMT, RP
Sue has always had a love for dogs, but it was one in particular that pushed her towards learning about the health benefits of canine massage. Spencer was her 13 year old Lab/Shepherd mix that passed away from osteo-sarcoma. She felt there was more she could have done for him, so her quest began. Sue signed up for, and completed, the Level 1 and Level 2 classes while working a 50+ hour a week corporate insurance job. Needless to say, she has left the "Corporate World" and is enjoying her Quest.
Sue is a 2015 graduate of the Chicago School of Canine Massage. Sue also became certified in Pet CPR and First Aid in 2015. She is a Nationally Certified Canine Massage Therapist since January 2016. Sue has also completed the Instructor in Training program with the Chicago School for Canine Massage in 2016, and is a Level 2 Reiki Practitioner.
As her quest continues, Sue has started her own business, "About a Dog - Pawsitive Canine Massage" in the North Aurora area. She also continues her education in the canine massage world in hopes of spreading calming, comfort and healing to dogs through massage.
When not working Sue spends her time with her wife and their two dogs Wrigley and Maggie.