â€˜â€˜We took her home and rehabilitated her, and after six months she was able to walk,â€™â€™ Monk says. â€˜â€˜This really helped me on my journey to support pet â€˜parentsâ€™ to rehabilitate their dogs, and have an alternative to euthanasia.â€™â€™
She has a particular soft spot for older dogs, who might otherwise find themselves â€˜â€˜provided with pain relief, and the owners are sent away to prepare for euthanasiaâ€™â€™.
As well as keeping seniors away from the rainbow bridge, Monkâ€™s typical day might involve treating performance injuries in sporting dogs and helping rehab patients recover from surgery.
One of the jobâ€™s rewards is helping best mates have more time together.
â€˜â€˜If youâ€™ve experienced that bond between yourself and your dog, the really deep love and trust that you never want to end, then you understand how important it is to help someone have their pet stay around for as long as possible, but with great quality of life.â€™â€™
And there are upsides to treating dogs over humans. â€˜â€˜Generally people who bring their dogs to see us are more compliant than my human physio patients.â€™â€™
In Lucy van der Weideâ€™s work, dog owners can be more reluctant to accept her diagnoses.
The veterinary behaviouristâ€™s specialised training helps her identify underlying mental health conditions previously thought to be obedience or training problems.
â€˜â€˜Mental health is a huge deal in our pets,â€™â€™ she says. â€˜â€˜Pets can get similar mental health conditions to people, including anxiety, compulsive disorders and dementia.â€™â€™ She discovered it was a widespread issue while doing vet work in the remote Pilbara region of WA, where many dogs came to the clinic with mental health related behaviours affecting their whole householdâ€™s quality of life.
When destructive or aggressive, the consequences could be devastating. Van der Weide now wants to raise awareness and prevent unnecessary deaths.
â€˜â€˜Many pet owners are surprised to hear that behaviour problems, not cancer or infectious disease, is the biggest killer of our pets.â€™â€™
Sheâ€™s completed post-graduate studies in veterinary behavioural medicine with one of Australiaâ€™s most qualified animal behaviour specialists, Dr Kersti Seksel.
Van der Weide now runs her own Perth-based behavioural service, The Mindful Pet. She sees a lot of dogs with anxiety disorders, which she says are often behind the aggression that puts them at risk of euthanasia.
â€˜â€˜Many owners believe their pet will grow out of their anxiety, or it will simply go away on its own. But itâ€™s a medical condition that requires a proper diagnosis, treatment and management plan.â€™â€™
Behaviour modification techniques and sometimes medication can help with rehabilitation and improve quality of life.
Van der Weide only needs to look to her own special needs dog, Mieke, to see the value of her work; Miekeâ€™s severe anxiety has toned down dramatically with ongoing treatment.
â€˜â€˜She will always be a special needs dog, but Iâ€™m so grateful sheâ€™s a constant reminder of why recognising and treating mental health is so important in our pets.â€™â€™