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Mutts & Muscles Offers Massage Relief for Dogs

By Norb Garrett

Tracey Arvelo loves dogs. A veterinary technician for the past 25 years, she and her husband, Dave, have five dogs—all rescue animals. Her entire career has been about, and for, dogs.

Two years ago, a wipeout while snowboarding tore the ACL in her left knee, sidelining her and leaving her stuck at home to recover. One day while lying on her couch and contemplating her future at the couple’s home in Menifee, she noticed that her new rescue dog, a Golden Retriever named Pe’ahi Pete, appeared to be labored in his movements.

“I noticed Pete was coming up lame—he had hip dysplasia in his one hip,” she recalled. “So, I started researching online what I could do to help him live his best life.”

Her online research led her to a little-known canine treatment approach utilizing massage therapy for dogs.

“I didn’t know anything about it, but it made sense to me,” said Arvelo, 50, who originally hails from Huntington Beach. She determined to learn more about the application of the treatment, and decided to pursue a certificate.

To earn a certificate and license in the field, Arvelo had to look outside of California, since the state doesn’t have a state board exam for canine Myofunctional Therapy. But she found one online, Holistic Animal Studies.

In July 2019, Arvelo and her husband moved to Capo Beach to be closer to his work while she embarked on her new career. One year later, following extensive online training and as the world came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arvelo earned her CMFT (Certified Canine Myo-Manipulative Functional Therapist).

Mutts & Muscles Chief Canine Officer Pe’ahi Pete and CEO Tracey Arvelo. Photo by Norb Garrett

“When COVID hit, my job (as a vet tech) was uncertain,” recalled Arvelo. “I wasn’t really feeling the technician thing anymore, and started looking at doing my own thing.”

She determined that offering mobile services was optimum so she could visit clients in their home, so she started researching vans. Last April, she found an old camper van being sold in San Clemente, and set about to paint it and trick it out.

The vehicle is affectionately known as the “Mutt Bus,” and anyone who waves will get a wave back and $10 off their first home visit if they take a photo or mention it. She came up with the name, Mutts and Muscles, had a friend work on the logo (including her signature shaka paw) and started the business.

She started by setting up at local events, as well as Saturday’s at The Dog Pawrk Brewing Company in San Juan Capistrano, which holds events every weekend. Slowly, but surely, she began building a customer base, offering dog owners a personalized, professional solution for dogs recovering from injuries, suffering from arthritis or degenerative joint disease, or for service or “send-it” dogs.

“Your dog doesn’t need to be ill or aging to be a good candidate for muscle therapy,” said Arvelo, who utilizes full massages, as well as cold laser treatment and “red light pads,” to treat different muscle layers. “This treatment is also great just for wellness. I want the dog to feel good, and I want people to see results.”

Pete is now 4 years old and is Arvelo’s official spokesperson, her “Chief Canine Officer.” He’s featured in her logo and travels everywhere with her. Her other dogs range in age from 10 (Daisy, a German Shepherd) to 2 (Maverick, a Golden mix).

She and her husband are also huge advocates for supporting local rescue operations.

“I’m not in it to become wealthy,” said Arvelo, who also provides related services such as nail trimming, among other things. “I do it because I love dogs, and I want to help them in any way.”

Mutts & Muscles

Tracey Arvelo, Vet Tech, CMFT

Mobile Certified Canine Massage Therapist


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