Instructors

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Denise Theobald | NCCMT, VMRT, LMT
Founder & Lead Instructor

Chicago School of Canine Massage (CSCM) was founded by Denise when she recognized the need for comprehensive training in the field of pet massage. CSCM was developed to meet the demand of students seeking a high quality and fully hands-on education in the growing field of canine massage. 

Denise has been a licensed human massage therapist for over 27 years and has been working with animals for over 17 years. She is nationally certified in human massage through NCBTMB, she holds national certification as a canine massage therapist through NBCAAM, and is certified in Veterinary Massage and Rehabilitation Therapy from The Healing Oasis. Denise, who studied animal massage through a variety of programs across the country, became a pioneer in the field of canine massage when she founded her canine massage business, Pet-ri-ssage Ltd., in 1998. In addition to providing massage therapy services in the Chicago area, Pet-ri-ssage Ltd. offered educational seminars and weekend workshops for various organizational and veterinary clinics. Denise is a graduate of the Animal Sense Academy of dog training which is now Canine Link and serves as staff instructor at Integrative Pet Care, a state-of-the-art canine rehabilitation center in Chicago. Denise is a member of ABMPAPDT, PPG (Pet Professional Guild), and an allied member of AARV (the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians) . She is an NBCAAM board member and is certified in Canine Medical Massage. Denise’s background in athletic training, personal training (she is a certified personal trainer through NASM), and sports massage add a level of precision to her work with canine athletes. Her areas of advanced training and expertise include low-stress handling for dogs, working with touch reactive dogs, trigger point therapy (Janet Travell), neuromuscular therapy (Paul St. John), orthopedic massage (Dr. Ben Benjamin), and sports massage. Denise is a Canine First Aid instructor and First Aid and CPR instructor with the American Red Cross and an instructor at Canine Link. She is a graduate of Chicago School of Massage Therapy, holding expertise in trigger point therapy and rehabilitative massage for humans and dogs.

Jaclyn Cecere | NCCMT, BS
Lead Therapist | Assistant Instructor | Business & Education Manager

Jaclyn graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science.  She has always been passionate about working with animals and began her career as a professional horseback rider and assistant trainer at a horse farm in Michigan.  After moving to Chicago in 2012, Jaclyn began to greatly miss working with animals on a daily basis.  Her initial interest in canine massage came after adopting her dog, Addison, who showed many signs of stress and anxiety.  The many benefits of massage were astounding to her and when she heard about the Chicago School of Canine Massage she couldn't resist the opportunity to learn more and begin working with animals again.  

Jaclyn enrolled in the Chicago School of Canine Massage 300-hour Career Training program and graduated in May 2014.  Since then she has become attuned to the first and second levels of Reiki, completed levels 1 & 2 of Flowtrition with Dr. Jonah Yakel, and become certified in Pet CPR and First Aid.   Jaclyn continues to seek out ways to further her education related to massage, other alternative modalities and animal behavior.  It is Jaclyn's goal to improve the quality of life for as many animals as possible. 

 When not working Jaclyn enjoys spending time with her two dogs Dixie and Addison, riding horses and discovering new restaurants in Chicago.

Jesse N. | NCCMT, BFA
Creative Design & Project Manager | Assistant Instructor | Therapist

Jesse was certified (200 hours) through the Chicago School of Canine Massage. He has helped local rescue organizations by assisting as an adoption counselor, foster and graphic/web designer. In addition, he has worked various roles in veterinary hospitals. In 2015, Jesse was certified in Pet CPR and First Aid and in 2016 achieved national certification through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM). His goal is to provide palliative and hospice care to senior pets while providing comforting and corrective care to all those in need. When not working, Jesse is hiking with his dog Freya.

Megan Ridley DVM | CVA, CCRT, CVSMT
Instructor

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.  (VSMT is also often referred to as veterinary or animal chiropractic).  Dr. Ridley has special interest in rehabilitative medicine, geriatric medicine, hospice care and special needs pets.  Dr. Ridley lives in Chicago with her two cats, Lourdes and Lorenzo.  In her free time she enjoys travel, swimming and dining out in Chicago.

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Jessie Walter | CCMT, LMT
Instructor

Jessie is a 2005 graduate of the Chicago School of Massage Therapy and is licensed and nationally certified in human massage therapy. She is a 2011 graduate of the Chicago School of Canine Massage. Jessie is attuned to the second degree of Reiki, and specializes in Myofascial, Trigger Point, Clinical, and Sports Massage. She is the proud Owner/Operator of The Diddy Club, a dog walking, boarding, and pet care company she began in 2006, serving the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. She is on staff at the Cortiva Institute of Chicago as a professional massage therapist, and served for several years as a lead instructor. She continues as a mentor to over twenty massage graduates of the Cortiva Institute.  She recently started Diddy Dog Designs - sewing and embroidering super sassy custom and holiday canine bandanas and toys. Jessie is a Licensed Massage Therapist (2005), Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage (2005), Certified in Canine Massage Therapy (2011), a professional member of Assoicated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, and Certified in Canine CPR and First Aid. When not working she loves spending time with her border collie, Benson… throwing a squeaky ball, baking up dog biscuits, and, of course, giving him his weekly massage! 

Sara May | NCCMT
Instructor

Sara’s passion for canine massage was first sparked while participating in a pet parent massage class offered by the Chicago School of Canine Massage. She quickly decided that she needed to learn more of this amazing work. She completed the 50 hour canine massage certification program at CSCM, and followed that with the 200 hour advanced canine massage certification program. Sara proudly achieved national certification through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) in October 2012. However, Sara believes that one can never truly be finished with learning and growing, so she continues to seek education and experiences that will expand her knowledge and advance her skill.  

Sara started her own canine massage business in the Chicago area in the summer of 2011.  She continues to have a thriving practice in Northern Virginia where she moved in the summer of 2014.  Sara is certified and experienced in a wide variety of massage therapy techniques and touch techniques, including relaxation and wellness massage, trigger point and myofascial techniques, palliative care and massage for geriatric dogs, pre- and post-surgical massage, and sports massage for the canine athlete.  She also works with touch-sensitive dogs to help them learn that gentle touch is ok and can feel good. Sara is also certified in animal first aid and CPR. Sara has a special love for shelter dogs and regularly volunteers at her local animal shelter, Friends of Homeless Animals in Aldie, VA, where she offers massage therapy to many of the canine residents.   

A former college instructor, Sara is a strong advocate for education. Teaching massage classes to pet parents and to prospective therapists is one of the favorite parts of her work. Through education, she believes that the value and important of canine massage can be understood, shared, and appreciated by an ever-increasing audience.

Heide Jakiel | NCCMT
Assistant Instructor
Heide has been involved in the dog world for 30 plus years. Her love of dogs has led her down many paths, including grooming, training, competing in dog shows, and teaching dog obedience. Heide has a passion for learning and teaching. She continues to attend seminars related to canine behavior, training and nutrition. Her interest in massage began in 2011 as her Rottweiler began to age. Heide’s goal is to bring comfort, healing and balance to dogs through massage.  

Heide is a 2015 graduate of Chicago School of Canine Massage. In 2015 she was also certified in Pet CPR and First Aid. In 2016 she achieved national certification through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM).

When not working Heide spends time with her husband as well as training and playing with her 2 Siberian huskies.

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Debbie Ferguson | NCCMT
Instructor

Debbie retired from Walgreens as Senior Vice President of Operations in 2009. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Roger Williams University and her MBA from Marylhurst University. She is an active volunteer for RedRover, an organization specializing in bringing animals out of crisis and enhancing the human/animal bond. She is on the board of directors for RedRover (currently serving as President) and has participated in more than a dozen large-scale rescues, serving as the team leader and communications assistant on several of these rescues. She also facilitates training sessions for new RedRover volunteers.

Debbie completed her canine massage training with Chicago School of Canine Massage in April of 2013 and is now an instructor. She is thrilled to be able to follow her passion and to spend her days touching dogs and educating pet parents.

She is an avid animal lover as well as an artist, writer, wildlife photographer, art collector and paranormal investigator (just for fun). She resides in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, with her beautiful rescued dog, Theodore.