The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Balanced Animal Massage brings holistic approach to pet care

Vet tech Sandra Farley uses massage and aromatherapy to promote wellness


February 28, 2019

WAITSBURG – With over 20 years’ experience in the veterinary field, Sandra Farley feels she has finally found her niche in helping to strengthen the human-animal bond. Through her new business, Balanced Animal Massage, Farley strives to promote wellness while reinforcing the special connection between animal and owner.

Farley graduated from Waitsburg High School, earned her veterinary technology degree at Eastern Wyoming College and became licensed in Washington state before going on to earn her bachelor’s degree in animal science at Washington State University. She has worked at Associated Veterinary Medical Center in Walla Walla for more than 20 years.

As Farley’s children grew older and began leaving the nest, she decided it was time for a change. Farley said she knew she needed a challenge and wanted to be doing something else, but wasn’t sure what exactly that was.

“The last year-and-a-half I explored different options and kept coming back to the fact that I like working with animals. But what I ended up realizing is that I really, really enjoy the clients, the owners. That human-animal bond is so important. And I realized that my favorite part of my job is being able to help a client help their pet,” Farley said.

Farley said it is common for clients to ask technicians questions they were hesitant to ask the doctor and she often got questioned about alternatives to medication, especially for pain management.

“People are looking for more holistic approaches. It’s common in human health care and it’s huge in animal health care,” she said.

Farley began searching out different avenues and became interested in rehabilitation massage. She went through the Northwest School of Animal Massage to earn her Small Animal Massage Practitioner Certification.

Farley was also curious about essential oils and, after researching, became a Certified Animal Aromacologist.

Farley said she hadn’t yet decided if she was going to put her new skills to work in the veterinary field or do it on her own, when her workplace approached her and asked if she would be the lead veterinary technician.

“A lot of their clientele are more geriatric patients, pets that need supportive care, and clients that are willing to do it. They already offer acupuncture and laser therapy and asked me if I would bring what I was doing to the clinic as well,” Farley said.

Animal Balanced Massage is an independent business, but Farley also provides services through the clinic.

“If a patient is hospitalized or a client would prefer the service at the clinic, I do it there. Otherwise, the clinic refers the patients to me and I can treat them in a more relaxed home environment,” Farley said.

Animal massage is associated with a long list of benefits including the restoration of flexibility and range of motion, improving skin conditions by increasing circulation, reduction of anxiety and stimulating liver and kidney function.

“One area that I’ve really seen a huge benefit in the clinic is with social issues,” Farley said. She said she has seen massage used effectively in puppies that have not been socialized well as well as in dogs with social anxiety.

Farley said that massage is commonly used for health and maintenance in areas such as Seattle and Portland but that it tends to be used more as part of the healing process, locally.

“It’s new to this area. I’m fortunate to have a clinic that can introduce it as an extra tool in the toolkit of everything they’re using with an animal in the healing or disease process,” Farley said.

Farley also uses massage as part of hospice services. While many would find it difficult to comfort a pet owner whose pet is dying, Farley sees participating in that process as a great privilege.

“Sometimes I have to help a client understand that they can’t make things better and that that is OK. That led me to hospice care. I feel very privileged to be a part of that for people,” Farley said.

Farley offers in-home hospice and supportive care which can include administering medication, helping pet owners understand what is a normal part of the end-of-life process and administering massage.

“It’s special to be able to help them relax in those last days and weeks that they have. And it’s special to make the owners feel like they’ve done something for this little furry friend that has always done everything for them,” Farley said.

“I’m really excited. I don’t really know where this is all going to lead but it feels right. I’m just really thankful that I’m at the clinic I’m at,” Farley said.

To learn more about Balanced Animal Massage or to schedule a consultation, visit


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