Shari’s Quest to enhance the lives of animals and their people was evident at a very early age. When she was seven years old, the Ottawa Humane Society held a poster contest to use in a fund-raising campaign. This was Shari’s first art contest and received honourable mention out of several hundred contestants, and many age groups. The coloured drawing was of a veterinarian bandaging a horses’ leg with the caption “Best Friends Care”.

She continued drawing and painting with animals as her preferred subject. Her first paid commission was of a mixed breed dog when she was twelve and she has been capturing the spirit of family companion animals and illustrating in publications throughout Canada and the United States ever since.

As a teenager and young adult, while horseback riding for pleasure and competition as well as training and showing dogs in obedience, Shari educated herself in the health-care field for people and animals.

In 1994 Shari’s quest lead her to join with massage therapist J.P. Hourdebaigt RMT and together they formed Massage Awareness Inc. which is dedicated to educating animal lovers around the world to apply safe and effective massage techniques to help their beloved horses and dogs

Shari’s experience with horses and dogs, her artistic talent and rapport with people coupled with Hourdebaigt’s massage expertise made a positive impact in the world of complimentary animal health care. Their work together produced teaching programs and books which are recognized and recommended worldwide.

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Equine Massage, A Practical Guide was the first book which was followed a year later by Canine Massage, A Practical Guide. Both were well received and have set standards for teaching programs by other organizations. They are on recommended reading lists for anyone wishing to learn canine or equine massage.

Hourdebaigt’s focus was with the Equine world when he and Shari formed their partnership. As much as she loved horses, Shari wanted to branch off into the world of dogs. She and holistic vet Dr. Ed Beltran DVM, worked their magic on dogs in the Ottawa area as they researched techniques that would benefit dogs.

Shari’s quest to teach dog-lovers how to help their canine friends themselves continues to evolve. She teaches dog lovers with her “Do It Yourself Canine Massage” seminars in her location at Sierra Springs in Gores Landing and at other locations such as “My Bark Avenue Academy” in Port Hope, “And Puppy Dog Tails” in Bowmanville, “Shirley’s K9 Klippery” in Whitby and throughout Canada and the US.

Her next book “Enhance Your Dog’s Life” is in the works. This will be an easy to read book with handy references for more information. It will definitely be on the must read list for all dog guardians.

Sierra Springs art studio was built in 2007, and is a beautiful creation all its own. In a setting reminiscent of a provincial park, Shari creates her paintings in a warm, inviting window clad room nestled in the trees with a magnificent view of Rice Lake.

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In 2009, Shari built the only indoor, warm, salt-water canine therapy pool between Ottawa and Toronto, at Sierra Springs, in Gores Landing. In the spring of 2010, she spent a couple of weeks swimming dogs with Cindy

Even with Shari’s busy schedule of teaching, building, painting, travelling to trade shows and working part time in the human health care field, over 40 new clients came to her in the first two years of building the indoor pool for dogs.

Shari’s unique and successful way of helping dogs and their guardians, brings most of her new clients to her as a result of ‘word of mouth’ and vet referrals.

In 2009 Shari her canine helpers Montana and Reno, hit the road to inform and educate dog lovers about the benefits of massage and hydrotherapy. They attended more than 15 trade shows in Ontario and gave over 20 talks and demonstrations.

Knowing the need for a larger indoor, warm water pool for dogs, in the geographic area between Toronto and Ottawa, Shari has expanded to a larger facility at The Deck Store in Oshawa. With the help of former clients Garth and Nancy Hutchinson, in early 2014 Shari and another former client, Janet Sharp opened as “Dog Paddle K9 Aquatics” serving clients in the eastern GTA, Clarington, Durham, Peterborough, the Kawarthas, Belleville, Trenton and all areas in between.

Shari works with several rescue organizations and animal shelters to help facilitate wellness in many of their “broken” dogs. This has inspired her to form a not for profit organization “Guardian’s P.A.W.s (Promoting Animal Wellness)” which raises awareness and funds in an effort to give these dogs what they need in the way of physical and emotional rehabilitation, enabling them to become the best they can be as they find their loving forever homes.

She hasn’t forgotten about our equine friends. Shari is still out there massaging horses and teaching horse-people how to help their horses with massage and exercise routines.

Stay tuned as Shari’s quest to enhance the lives of animals and their people continues to grow.