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Did you know that we have an animal massage school here on the island? How amazing is that?  We recently visited the Northwest School of Animal Massage to meet with Lola, the founder – what a gorgeous space!  And Lola is a real gift for our community.

Read on to learn more…

Northwest School of Animal Massage

VH:  From where do you hail?

Lola: I am a Motor City girl, I grew up about 30 minutes west of downtown Detroit in a town called Royal Oak.  My parents still live in our family home there.

VH:  How did you land on Vashon?

Lola: A graduate of the school lived here on the island and she called me when the property we currently live on came on the market.  It was a leap of faith but we knew we needed a suitable farm for our school campus and we loved everything about the island.

VH:  Tell us all about what you do at The Northwest School of Animal Massage …

Lola: The Northwest School of Animal Massage is a vocational school where we teach people massage and acupressure for animals. Some of our students are pet owners or horse lovers who just want to learn how to take great care of their pets and many are seeking a new career or supplemental income working with animals.

Our students come from all over the globe.  Our programs are offered as blended learning, so part of the program is completed online and then students travel to Vashon for hands-on training to complete the program.  We have satellite campuses in Oregon, Hawaii and Utah where we partner with animal rescues and shelters like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and the Oregon Humane Society.  I established the school in 2001 in response to changes in the laws around practicing animal massage.

I have a second business called Paxhia Farm. It is an Equine Retirement and Rehabilitation farm.  The horses we care for are either retired from a career in racing or showing or they are here short-term for therapeutic care while they recover from an injury.  Many of the horses on our farm belonged to clients from my private massage practice.  They all get to be models for the massage classes so it is a great mix.  The farm also has a few goats, a miniature donkey, two jack russel terriers and a barn cat.

Northwest School of Animal Massage

VH:  What inspired you to start your business?

Lola: I had been practicing animal massage for 15 years when I moved to Seattle.  I also provided massage for people and some of my clients encouraged me to consider teaching.  I had never thought of myself as a teacher, but once I started sharing my passion for massage and animals, it just clicked.  I knew that I could only provide care for so many animals, I only have two hands and so many hours in a day.  Teaching meant I could share my passion with other animal lovers and then there would be that many more hands out there doing the work and more animals would get the benefit.  I also felt very strongly that I wanted to do something for animals in shelters or rescues but didn’t want to work directly in that environment.  NWSAM holds classes at shelters so we can give back that way and we donate a portion of our profits to several key animal organizations.

VH:  What is your superpower? 

Lola: Talking to animals I guess.

VH:  When you have company visiting the island, where do you like to take them?

Lola: Well, mostly we love to share our farm and host dinner parties, but I do love sharing Shinglemill Trail, any of our really wonderful restaurants (Gravy, May Thai, Earthen to name a few of our favs) and we always try to get people to come visit during the Vashon Sheepdog Trials weekend.

VH:  What’s next for your business?

Lola: In recent years, we have taught in Japan and Mexico and would like to do that more regularly.  We are rebranding our website and expanding our online offerings this coming spring and we would love to find more ways to share our campus with the community for workshops or retreats.

Northwest School of Animal Massage

VH:  What’s the best thing you ever bought at Granny’s? 🙂 

Well, I have bought alot of stuffed animals there that we use in class…so I am the lady people see walking around with an armload of stuffed dogs and cats and horses.

Please visit the NWSAM website to learn more. 


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