Just a little bit about me

Hopefully you’ll learn everything you need to know about me here, but if you have any questions or you’d like to find out more about how I can help, please feel free to get in touch.

About Lindsay

Lindsay and Lexi the dog in the countryside

Hi, I’m Lindsay Cope and I’m the proud owner and founder of Paw Vida Holistic Therapies. I qualified as a Clinical Canine Massage Therapist in 2015 and work with agility dogs, dogs with orthopaedic conditions and soft tissue injuries, and older dogs with reduced mobility, all on a mobile basis in and around the Bristol and Bath area. I also qualified as a Human Massage Therapist in 2014 and can often be found treating the whole family, two- and four-legged varieties included! I’m very passionate about my work and I’m committed to enhancing the health and happiness of you and your dog – whether you’re looking for improved mobility or performance, better pain management, or simply an enhanced quality of life for your dog, I’ll endeavour to work closely with you to achieve your goals.

And if you’re wondering where the name Paw Vida came from, it’s the sister brand to my human massage business, Pura Vida Holistic Therapies. Pura Vida is a phrase we kept hearing during an amazing trip to Costa Rica. It’s more than an expression, though. It’s a kind of philosophy. Literally meaning “pure life”, it’s at the heart of what I believe in and I knew as soon as I heard it that it was the perfect name for my business. And so Paw Vida or ‘Paw Life’, if you like, evolved naturally as the perfect complement to Pura Vida.

My Studies and Experience

Lindsay and prince the bear

I’ve always had a keen interest in anatomy and physiology, pathology, behaviour, and health and wellbeing in general. From when I was very little, I can remember switching between wanting to be a Vet, to a Pathologist, to a Clinical or Forensic Psychologist (think that last one came from watching the TV series Cracker!) and then back to a Vet again. In fact, I’d watch any veterinary, medical, forensic, or psychological drama programme going, and still do to this day! Appropriately, I went on to study Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics at A Level and subsequently obtained a first class Psychology Degree from the University of Manchester in 2006.

Ultimately though, my passion for animals overwhelmed everything else and after University I went on to qualify as both a Companion Animal Behaviourist and Veterinary Thermographer (using an infra-red camera to scan animals to help in the diagnosis of injury and illness).

During my study, I worked for Bath Cats and Dogs Home, which provided me with a lot of hands on experience with the ‘long-stay’ dogs with behavioural issues and just generally with dogs of all different shapes and sizes – a real asset for the palpation skills required for canine massage.

And with a keen dedication to animal welfare, upon completing my Animal Behaviour qualification I was fortunate to get the chance to travel to China to spend three months as a bear behavioural volunteer at the Animals Asia Foundation China Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu. Animals Asia work tirelessly to rescue bile-farmed ‘moon’ bears from a life of incarceration and torture across China and Vietnam. During my time there, my main roles were undertaking behavioural observation studies and providing enrichment activities to help with the rehabilitation of the rescued bears into their new found life of freedom, as well as helping out in the vet kitchen. I would describe this time as one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life.

Although I enjoyed both of my roles as an Animal Behaviourist and Veterinary Thermographer, they didn’t quite satisfy my need to be ‘hands on’ with animals and so my decision to train in touch therapies, and Clinical Canine Massage specifically, was made. As a result of these disciplines however, combined with my Psychology degree, I now have a particular interest in pain-driven behavioural and performance changes in dogs within my canine massage work.

My Animals

Lexi the labrador with a ball on the grass

I’ve had a love of animals all my life and was lucky enough to grow up with a menagerie of rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, cats and fish. My Grandparents bought Bonnie, a Yellow Lab and Collie cross, when I was 4 years of age. We grew up together (she lived with my Grandparents next door) and in her eyes, I belonged to her. And that was it, our bond was made and my love of dogs began. She lived to a grand old age of 15 (never long enough) passing away at Christmas time during my first year at university.

Of course, as soon as I finished University, we welcomed our beautiful black Labrador Lexi into our family. Funny, mischievous, clever and loving, Lexi was my soul mate. People often say there will be one dog in your life that’ll stand out from all the rest and I have absolutely no doubt that Lexi was that dog for me. I treasured every day with her and the memories we made. She taught me so much and it was my privilege to have had her as my training buddy, demo dog, and guinea pig throughout all of my post-graduate study – her understanding and patience knew no bounds. And Lexi is the other reason I became a Clinical Canine Massage therapist. She ruptured her first cruciate ligament at 18 months and the second at 7 years of age. She underwent TPLO and MMP surgeries, respectively. And as a result, she always had a range of different complementary physical therapies to support her post-surgery rehabilitation and help maintain her mobility over the years. These included Canine hydrotherapy, McTimoney, Canine Bowen, Veterinary Physiotherapy and of course, Canine Massage. Lexi lived to the grand old age of 15 years and 2 months, and I believe that these therapies, along with a good quality joint supplement and raw diet, is the reason she continued to be in great physical condition, often walking and trotting 3-4 miles several days a week right up until the end.

Following my ‘Pura Vida’ ethics, I was keen to treat Lexi as naturally as possible, wherever I was able. Over the years Lexi had her fair share of other illnesses and disease. She suffered Pyometra for which she required an emergency hysterectomy. Alongside this she developed an autoimmune disease called Masticatory Muscle Myositis. We sought advice from an holistic vet who specialises in autoimmune for this and she was treated homeopathically and with immunity support supplements, avoiding the need for steroids and thus the nasty side effects these can cause. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime, and sadly Lexi was also one of those. In the latter years of her life, she had three different malignant tumours; a Grade 2 Soft Tissue Sarcoma; a Mammary Gland Carcinoma; and a low grade Mast Cell Tumour, all of which were isolated and surgically excised without the need for any further treatment.

I personally checked Lexi weekly for new lumps and bumps so I was able to find these early in their development (the initial mast cell tumour was smaller than a pea). Fortunately, this meant that they consequently had very little time to metastasise (spread) and we avoided the need for any invasive treatments such as chemotherapy. This is another great advantage of Canine Massage, having another person regularly have their hands on your dog can help to locate and track any new masses that you may have missed – you can never have enough people checking for these in my opinion.

In early 202, Lexi was diagnosed with low grade T cell Lymphoma (this was an incidental finding and she had no clinical symptoms). Again, I consulted my local Holistic Vet and we decided, given Lexi’s history of malignant tumours and the new diagnosis, to commence her on CV247 therapy, which is a natural vitamin and mineral based cancer support supplement. Her enlarged lymph nodes returned to normal soon after starting and she didn’t develop any clinical signs of her Lymphoma throughout the remainder of her life (nearly 2 years).

At the end of 2020, she developed a high grade Mast Cell Tumour on her lower lip. This was surgically excised but due to the nature of its location, it was impossible to achieve the level of clear margins recommended for this type of aggressive tumour, and so we waited. Sure enough, a couple of months later, the lymph node local to this area was found to be enlarged and the mast cell had spread. At this stage, we needed to add in a more traditional cancer drug (not chemotherapy) to help reduce the size of the tumour – the Oncologist advised us that the drug was unlikely to have any day-to-day side effects and would enable her to have another 4-6 months of good quality life. Lexi being Lexi ignored that and gave us almost 8 months of happy and healthy life, living each day to the full. In fact on her 15th birthday, she zoomed around Westonbirt Arboretum for 4 miles without even a hint of old age stiffness, let alone anything else! But what was most noticeable throughout all of her various health issues over the years, was her ability to bounce back from every hurdle within days, and how healthy, physically strong and systemically well she presented, to everyone’s amazement! In fact, she was described by a specialist vet as ‘a gentle soul and a survivor’! Nobody would have known she had cancer, she was absolutely remarkable and, again, I put this down to the combination of complementary therapies keeping her fit, strong and mobile, and her raw diet and supplements feeding her body with top quality nutrition feeding her body and not the cancer.

My Other Interests

Lindsay on CN tower edge walk

And when I’m not working or with my beloved Lexi, my main passion is travel and, I guess, some would say I’m a bit of a thrill seeker. I’m privileged to have travelled to some amazing countries, experienced some fantastic cultures, and met some wonderful people all around the globe. And if there’s a zip line or a tall building in sight to hang off of, that’s a bonus, as I’ll be the first clipped on or hanging off the edge!

My Qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) Psychology
  • Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour and Training
  • Certificate in Veterinary Thermography
  • ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Massage
  • Clinical Canine Massage Practitioner Programme
  • Practitioners Diploma in Advanced and Deep Tissue Massage
  • Practitioners Diploma in Myofascial Release
  • Practitioners Diploma in Indian Head Massage
  • Practitioners Diploma in Pregnancy Massage
  • Hot Stone Massage Practitioner’s Course
  • Holistic Facials Practitioner’s Course

A big thank you to my beautiful Lexi for your patience and understanding, and the handsome Prince for keeping me company every lunchtime during my time in China, and together for providing the photos and content for this page.