How do you crack a cow? A cat? A colt? Luckily, Robin Sadler ’09 is a master of the technique. Sadler is the founder of Companion Animal Chiropractic, a clinic where patients walk in on four legs and house calls are often made to barns and stables. A lifelong lover of animals, Sadler wasn’t always sure that she could make their care a part of her career. Her own experience with chiropractic treatment while recovering from a car accident in high school led her to realize that she wanted a future in the
field. After earning her zoology degree from UW–Madison and her doctor of chiropractic degree from the National University of Health Sciences in 2013, Sadler worked with human patients for five years before shifting her focus to their fuzzy companions in need of an adjustment, both physically and mentally. Sadler is a compassionate healer with a unique ability to offer swift relief to patients whose pain can’t be put into words, and whose gratitude comes in the form of wagging tails and happy gaits.
What brings an animal in to your clinic?
I get calls for all sorts of different things, and it really can impact a lot of different ailments and disabilities. [When we think of] chiropractic care in general, we think of musculoskeletal issues. Chiropractic care is wonderful at treating [those], but there’s also a huge neurological component to the care we provide and what we’re trying to achieve. So, I do see a lot of the things you might expect — an animal limping, or having a hard time moving, or clearly in pain, or disc injuries — things like that. But I also get calls for other things, like animal incontinence and anxiety and behavioral issues that may have more of a neurological component that we’re able to address through spinal care.
How is animal chiropractic care different than taking a pet in pain to the vet?
Oftentimes, I’m not the first call people make when something happens. They’ve usually seen their vet about the issue already and are either referred to me, or the client investigates on their own and reaches out. If a human goes to the doctor because their back hurts, we can communicate and get a good idea of what’s going on to make a more accurate diagnosis. We can order imaging, and we have insurance to pay for those things. But when the family dog, who’s 12 years old, starts limping, there are a lot of limitations with the care that they could have and the money that the family [can] put in. So, usually, frontline [care from the vet] is pain medications because, oftentimes, that helps the animal have a better quality of life and move better and act normal again. We both have the same goal in mind, and that is to address the root cause of the issue. [Animal chiropractic treatment] is a complementary therapy. The best success I have is when I do work hand in hand with the vet and we’re able to approach the problem from multiple angles.
Could you tell me about some of your patients that probably wouldn’t be found curled up on the couch?
I had a calf earlier this year. The farmer called me [and said] that they had a six- week-old calf that suddenly wasn’t able to stand up on her back legs anymore. She would just sit almost like a dog, and they weren’t quite sure what happened. She had a bleak future if she couldn’t stand and be a useful dairy cow, so they gave me a call to see if there was anything I could do. I worked with the calf a little bit, and after one treatment, the calf was able to stand and move around. Now she’s a very useful, producing dairy cow, so that was a pretty fun experience. It’s always really rewarding and makes my job a lot more fun when we see success like that.
How is working on animals different from working on human patients?
Animals tend to respond a little bit better to care in a general sense. With humans, when we have pain, there are a lot of psychological factors that really complicate our ability to get well. Especially in cases of chronic pain, we can really become attached to that diagnosis even without wanting to. It just can happen over time. We think about, “How is this pain going to impact the rest of my life? How’s it going to impact my ability to play with my kids and go to work and do all these important things?” Animals are very present in the moment. If they feel better, they feel better. If they feel worse, they feel worse. So that aspect makes them a little easier to deal with in that sense, just because there’s not that complicating factor of how attached they are to their pain like humans tend to have.
Your patients get pain relief and a happier, healthier life. What do you get out of your work?
I feel so blessed to be able to do the work that I do. I love working with animals, and I just feel so thankful that I’m able to help provide a better quality of life for these animals and for their families. Most of the time, when people call an animal chiropractor, it’s because they love their animal, and they would do anything to make their lives better. So, when I’m able to help that animal, I’m also able to help that family. That just means the world to me — to be able to provide a service that allows people to keep their animal around a little longer and have better quality time with that animal.