Dog massage business starting in Southwest

When Heidi Hesse’s 12-year-old dog, Lulu, started slowing down a year ago and had trouble going up stairs because of her arthritis, a friend recommended that she go and see a canine masseuse. After a couple of appointments, Lulu gained her bounce back, and Hesse was so inspired she decided that she wanted to learn more about canine massage.

Earlier this year, Hesse headed to Chicago to get hands-on training in the practice, which pulls techniques from Swedish massage and other approaches. Certified in September, she headed back to her home near Lake Harriet to start her own business providing massages for dogs.

As soon as she got back to the Twin Cities, Hesse participated in Woofstock, the Linden Hill dog festival, and connected with Lake Harriet Veterinary, which began referring clients to her business. Recently, she’s also provided “massage by the minute” sessions at Urban Tails Pet Supply, on Lyndale Avenue. “It’s kind of like a chair massage, but it’s for dogs,” she said.

“People are kind of surprised to hear about massage for dogs,” Hesse said. “But it’s got all the same benefits for dogs as for humans.”

This January, she’ll be hosting sessions at Metro Dogs Day Care, visiting clients for in-home appointments. She hopes to transition, eventually, into doing massage full time.

As of now, she’s still working as a freelance sound recordist, a career she’s been doing for over 20 years. She’s had clients that range from National Geographic to HBO and also works for NBC’s Dateline.

In fact, the name of her business, Sound Hound Canine Massage, pays homage to her career doing sound. She said she still plans on working in that field, but would like to pick and choose the shoots she goes on.

“I don’t want to carry heavy equipment until I’m 65,” she said.

Besides actually doing massages, Hesse says she’ll start teaching pet parenting classes, where she’ll be encouraging pet owners to practice massage on their own.

“The more massage the better,” she said.