YES, we are what we eat.

We just love Saturday Night Love’s *ads*. Funny, how they are picking up on the sad state of our food supply. So, before getting the true scoop on nutrition and diet, check out this poignant video on what NOT TO BE SERVING TO OUR DOGS (initially posted in Oct 2009)!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is closer to the truth than you can imagine.

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Check out lots of incredible information on diet plans, some from veterinarians (
Dr. Gregory Ogilvie and Dr. Demian Dressler) and Cornell University. There are 3 SUPER PDF documents for you to print out, with over 100 pages of material in fact. Just click here.

I home cook an organic diet and have done so for several years now. I add all organic ingredients to an organic pre-mix that is actually used for dogs with cancer. I feel it is a good preventative to use this formula as I really like the amount of antioxidants. I do not sell the food (I do not sell any food at my store) but know the person who developed it, and she does extensive work with veterinarians and dogs with chronic health issues.

The CANINE LIFE PRE-MIX FORMULATION FOR CANCER contains: Organic milled whole brown rice, Organic chick peas, Organic whole oats, calcium, carob, Acadian sea kelp, green tea, turmeric, oregano, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, ginger, and garlic.

Canine Life: Home-Baked & Organic

Canine Life: Home-Baked & Organic

This is a true home-cooked diet, each recipe making muffins or squares. The baking time is extremely short as there is nothing to rise here, it is merely to cook together so that any bacteria is removed from the raw ingredients. Three cups of this purchased pre-mix (above) is added to the following ingredients that I provide from home: organic broccoli, organic egg with shell, organic red apple, organic blueberries, organic pure cranberry juice, organic safflower oil, organic ground chicken with skin, and organic chicken livers. The ingredients, such as the organic chicken livers, organic red apple and organic broccoli, are pureed or chopped fine via a (Cuisinart) food processor. And, the organic chicken (I use organic thighs) with skin (no bones) is ground up via a meat grinder attachment on my food processor. You can learn about it here at my foundation’s site.

Golden Sam needs our help

When I read this latest rescue story, my heart just about broke. I really hope folks can pitch in so that he can have the life-saving surgery that is needed. I know my check is in the mail. Here is his story from Golden Retriever Rescue and Community Education, Inc. (GRRACE) in Indianapolis, Indiana

Sam is a special needs Golden boy that is just over a year old.  He has spent most of his life in the shelter; adopted and then returned due to a liver condition called PSS (Portosystemic Shunt) that his adopter could not afford to correct.  There was something special about Sam that the shelter immediately recognized, so GRRACE was called instead of having Sam euthanized.

Sam’s body cannot filter toxins out of his blood.  He takes daily medications, which help control (not cure) his condition, but the medications make him feel sick. He cannot eat protein so he cannot build muscle properly which decreases his energy level and endurance.

Sam needs to have surgery to correct the PSS.  Once surgery is completed, he can live a happy, healthy life.  His surgery must be completed as close to one year of age as possible, so time is of the essence.  The cost for surgery with pre and post surgical care will be about $3,000.


Sam is a true golden personality.  He loves everyone he meets;  dogs, cats and most of all PEOPLE!  He is a very smart boy who loves walks, car rides and his big basket of toys! When he’s out on his walks he will actually sit down if he sees another dog or person approach, in the hopes they will pet him and play. He is also the biggest cuddler his foster parents have ever met! If you sit down close to Sam, you’d better plan on him taking up residency in your lap!

Sam is just a lovable, sweet, happy boy who we would like to provide the opportunity to live the happy, healthy life he so deserves.

GRRACE is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization so all donations to help with Sam’s expenses are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. Donors will recognized on our website with their names listed as “Friends of Sam” (unless you request not to be). Checks can be mailed to GRRACE, PO Box 513, Plainfield, IN 46168. Please note “SAM” in the memo of your check and include your name and complete address so a donation receipt can be provided.


Do you have a friend or family member who is a Golden lover?  Maybe they have a birthday or anniversary coming up and you just don’t know what to get them?  A gift to Sam in their name is a wonderful gift idea!  A card will be sent to them to tell them of your gift!

Very sad & lonely today – Update

Golden Retriever Alfie with one of his favorite woobies

Golden Retriever Alfie with one of his favorite woobies

I am on telephone watch right now. That is, I wait for it to ring to tell me that my sweet Golden boy is safely out of surgery, and that possibly we have some more answers about what is bothering him right now. He is a real mess with some kind of infection that we cannot identify and a benign (I hope) tumor on his eyelid that is being removed.

The only fun part to going to the vet’s office is the ability to see so many new dog faces, attached to bodies of all types. And, it is always a chuckle when folks try to guess Alfie’s age, thinking he is just the most well-behaved, but rather large puppy.

My baby boy turns ten in 4 months, but is definitely from a late-maturing line, which I love. He still runs in a puppy-like fashion and acts puppyish in his behaviors. And, I love it, of course.

To top off bad times, my rescue feral kitty Cindy is very sick. I told the vet he needs to get her well because even though she is 16-17 years of age, she has only decided to love on me and my hubby during the last few years. Before that, she’d sleep in the basement or hidden somewhere in the house, and would rarely let us hold or love on her. Now, she must be with us constantly and actually tries to keep Alfie from getting time with Gary or myself. And, despite her being only 6 pounds, Alfie will not cross her path and always defers to her wishes.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the good wishes. You should have seen me at the vet’s. I did not want to even let Alfie have his surgery on Monday, having given him some bread with Prednisone later than I should due to his agony on Sunday. I wasn’t even going to leave him on Monday and took him in with me when I had my 9am appt for Cindy. When the vet asked how I was, I told him I was up all night and not sleeping and what could he do. Ultimately, he told me I had to not make Alfie into a basket case by acting like one myself (ouch!).

He did make it through surgery and now we have lots of meds, of which Gary is partially in charge, since putting ointment onto the eye is just so tough. The biopsy is not back but I was not worried that it would be cancer since the vet told me that these types of growths are typically benign. It had to be removed, though, as the eye has been runny and constantly tearing, and was red. It was also beginning to affect the cornea.

Hopefully, we will get the bacterial infection under control soon. We think it is due to his food addiction in combo with his still lying flat like a puppy. He does that outside as well, and loves to spend time down by our apple trees eating the fallen fruit which is too disgusting to even describe. Gary refuses to manage it. He just likes to have the trees there and doesn’t think about the upkeep. I may decide to just pay someone to keep the ground cleared of fallen fruit, as it is tough to pick up when it draws bees and who knows what else.

My poor 16-17 year-old Cindy, who was quite feral and not interested in contact, is now sick with kidney disease. I feel so bad because she only started becoming sweet and affectionate a couple of years ago, so to me, she has only been with me a few years. She is not one to take medication and the fact that we have to get 2 meds into her daily is going to be some battle. She is also a little under 6 pounds and finicky about eating, so trying to change her diet is going to be impossible. Gary, of course, is totally the dreamer and thinks all will be fine. I am really not so sure. But, up to 2am, I was looking at various diets that we will begin trying with her. The bottom line, though, is that her stopping eating would be worse than not changing the diet, and even one day with her refusing food could send her to the hospital given this type of illness and her limited weight.

All in all, I am a mess. But, that was to be expected given my own limited health, and the fact that any type of emotional stress exacerbates my symptoms. But, it all comes with the package. We can never truly appreciate the love we receive from our furry souls without going through the pain when they become ill.

SAR Brady’s Story – Helping a wonderful Golden in need

Golden Chase looks pretty happy working here on the water, even though he believes it is all a fascinating game. We learned about SAR Goldens Brady and Chase from their handler, Deana Hudgins, President of the Ohio Search Dog Association, Inc. (OSDA), a non-profit all volunteer response unit that primarily provides qualified K9 search teams to assist in locating missing persons.

They also are educating agencies and the general public about the use and benefits of such teams in search and rescue missions.

OSDA has assisted with search operations in Ohio and in neighboring states, including searches for Alzheimer patients, mentally handicapped individuals who have wondered away from hospitals or their homes, and missing or abducted children. They have additionally worked on operations involving victims of drowning, violent crime, plane crashes, and various types of natural or man-made disasters.

Each team member/handler supplies their own field packs for the dogs in a “ready to go” status. The field packs contain change of clothing, cyalume sticks, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit, dog supplies, water bowl, power bars, food, maps and a compass, GPS and other necessities. Team members also maintain a fully equipped trailer for use on search missions including rope rescue equipment to support search operations.

This photo shows Deana with her two incredible boys, (right to left) Brady and Chase. Brady’s specialties include Live Finds and Area Search, while Chase’s skill specialties are Human Remains Detection and Air Scenting. Brady’s certifications include: NAPWDA Area Search, NASAR SAR TECH II, NASAR Canine SAR TECH II, and Canine Good Citizen Certification. Chase’s certifications include: NASAR SAR TECH II, Water HRD— Southern Tier Police K9 Assocation, NASAR Canine Human Remains Detection-Land (III), and Canine Good Citizen Certification.

Sadly, we learned about this hard-working family, when in June 2008, an application arrived for one of our Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grants.

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This is Deana’s story about her guy Brady:

Brady is my baby, my partner, my loyal and loving companion. He is the first dog I trained for search and rescue. He was born on February 15, 2002 in Rootstown, Ohio at Gangway Kennel. He was the only boy in a litter of five. He came home on April 18, 2002 and began his search and rescue training immediately.

We are members of the Ohio Search Dog Association, Inc. (OSDA). We train as a team twice a week and respond, free of charge, twenty four hours a day to requests from polices, fire and emergency management agencies to assist in the search for lost and missing people throughout Ohio and around the country.

In April of 2003 Brady received his first search and rescue certification from the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) in Area Search. He has been recertified by NAPWDA in Area Search every April since, including April 13, 2008.

Brady was certified as an Area Search Canine SAR Tech III by the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) in 2004 and an Area Search Canine SAR Tech II in 2007. Brady has loved to work from the first day I taught him puppy run-aways, the building block for area search canines. Brady’s overwhelming love of people of all ages, races and abilities has made him an outstanding search and rescue dog.

He is OSDA’s star when it comes to PR events and demonstrations. Long after the other dogs on the team have tired out Brady is still eager to meet and greet anyone who comes near our booth in the hopes that they will stop and pet him for a while. Brady assists me with dozens of demonstrations each year including the Ohio Child Abduction Response Team (CART) training for law enforcement agencies around the state.

I have been truly blessed to have Brady in my life. He has brought so much joy, love and happiness to my life. He has been a forgiving partner as we have navigated through the learning process of the K9 Search and Rescue world. He has also taught me so much about being present in the moment of our lives and the lives of our loved ones every day.

My teammates have been a huge support system for me during this process. We have some fantastic people and dogs who happily go to work whenever called and willingly put themselves in harms way to help return the missing to their families. K9 Search and Rescue has become my calling and I have been so blessed to have had Brady share this journey from the start.

I have been devastated by his diagnosis. I pray that I am making the right decisions in his care and treatment and that I can help him have the longest healthiest life possible. I was caught completely off guard by the diagnosis since he was showing absolutely no signs of feeling ill in any way. He was working, playing and living day to day like normal. I took him in to be checked because he had a small mass behind his shoulder blade about 2 cm wide. I, along with my regular vet, the oncologist and the surgeon, were totally unprepared for the diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma.

Brady had surgery to remove the mass on May 23, 2008 and the margins came back clear however radiographs and CT scans have picked up lesions in his lungs that may be metastatic disease but at this time they are too small to tell for sure. He had is first chemo treatment on June 9. He has been receiving weekly CBCs to monitor his blood. Brady has handled the chemo very well with no evident side effects.

To look at Brady you would never know he was sick, and for that I am eternally grateful. He runs and plays with Chase, his 4-year-old full brother who is also a search and rescue K9, every day. We have pool parties in the back yard and walk about three miles each night.

Brady still licks his bowl clean after every meal which he devours in less than a minute and he has really been enjoying all of his medicine and supplements since I give it to him in hot dogs three times a day.

I am praying for a miracle for Brady and trying to enjoy every day he is feeling well. I am more than willing accept the financial debt that comes with maintaining the health and well being of both Brady and Chase, but the bills for Brady’s surgery, tests and treatment have been overwhelming. I can’t thank you enough for your donation it will definitely help ease the burden.

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Brady just went back for his second chemotherapy treatment on July 3, 2008. He is working with Dr. Lisa Fulton, an excellent Veterinary Oncologist. Deana believes he still seems to be doing well. And, she has promised to keep us up-to-date on his progress.

Making a Difference
Please help support our cancer treatment program with the purchase of cards. This first card, hopefully leading off a series of cards honoring our wonderful working dogs, was inspired by SAR Golden Brady.

The design below is featured on oversized 5¼” x 7¼” quality classic ivory linen cards, which are a hefty 80-pound weight. The set includes matching 70-pound ivory linen envelopes along with 10 glossy puppy stickers. Just click here to order!

Golden Retriever Cubby’s tale will touch your heart

This 16-week-old pup is going to be seen by a University of California, Davis, surgeon to repair his front legs, which have missing or curved bones. One leg will be amputated to strengthen the other so he can support his weight.

Click here to learn about how sweet he truly is and how no one, including his birth mom and siblings, have abandoned him.

All Golden Ella wants for Xmas is 2 new hips

9ella2.jpgThis nine-month-old Golden beauty is battling severe hip displaysia, but Ella’s surgery was recently cancelled due to her contracting a rash.

Poor Ella has been sickly and prone to illness much of her short life.

The first of two operations on Ella’s hips is scheduled for December 12, and we will be thinking of her and hoping she pulls through and gets some relief.

Golden Retriever Allie’s Osteosarcoma story

At our foundation site we provide many resources for those folks who have dogs living with challenges. At our page for Resources for the Mobility-Challenged Dog, we list some special mobility aids and internet links. One of those links is to HandicappedPets.com. That is where we discovered Allie Porter’s story, as provided by her mom, Jane.

Allie was 9-years-old when diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the left front leg just above the paw, surgery performed in January 2004 to remove her leg just below the shoulder. Not knowing that this amputation would be needed, there had already been family plans to pick up a new puppy. Zack came into the family fold, and it was funny when Jane mentioned Allie’s ‘trying her best to boss Zack around and that so far he was a believer’.

 

 

 

 

The photo above shows Allie and Zack on November 5, 2005. Allie was still doing great but started to regress about 2 weeks before Christmas, subsequently going to The Bridge on January 3, 2006. This was just 3 weeks shy of her 2-year anniversary.

According to Jane, Allie passed with the assistance of their vet with her husband, herself and puppy Zack with her. Although the original chemotherapy treatments caused her kidneys to shut down, the family would have proceeded in the same manner as it did provide 2 extra years.

Sadly, although the vet suggested they bring Zack so that he wouldn’t look for her and he hasn’t, he remained so lonesome. That is the same thing that happened with our Alfie and Darcy. After she was gone, he simply remained in the room by the garage, just waiting for her to return.

Do go learn the whole story about this special family and friendship that developed between two wonderful Goldens.

Golden Retriever Learning of the Day: August 29th

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Dogs with cancer may help take a bite out of human disease. Understanding the important of research in comparative oncology.


Meet 12-year-old Golden Alex, a hero of cancer research.

Dr. Patty Khuly has some great articles on the lowdown to how vets recommend pet food. Check out Part I: Industry and Part II: Education.

Assistance Golden Retriever Genny has Zak’s Back — Can you help too?

I recently learned about a very special story and need for help from Zak Kissel, a disabled youngster in Longmont, Colorado. Here is his story from his own I’ve Got Zak’s Back website:

My name is Zak. I am a 4th grader who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Because of my weakening muscles and constant seated position, my spine is curving sharply in two areas (top and bottom).

On June 18, 2007, I will have spinal fusion surgery to straighten my spine. I will have 2 titanium rods permanently attached on either side of my spine – from my tail bone to my shoulders. This will support my spine and at the same time reduce the turning radius in my back. Although the rods will prevent my trunk height from growing, it will only shorten my overall height by 2”. This surgery is necessary in order for me to maintain lung capacity as well as extend my overall health.

My mom, Megan, is a single parent without any child support. She will be responsible for part of my surgery cost that is not covered by insurance. There will be additional expenses for adaptive equipment and general transferring items.

My mom also needs to purchase a van with a lift to transport me after the surgery and in the future. Right now she is manually transferring me in and out of an old Jeep, but because of the delicate and extensive surgery, she will no longer be able to do so.

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She’s got Zak’s back – Tough mom devises campaign to support disabled son
By Pam Mellskog, The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Given the way 120-pound Megan Kissel dead lifts her 106-pound son Zak Kissel from the floor to his wheelchair, or to the couch, or to the toilet, she looks Navy SEAL-tough. “I’m there acting as his arms and legs,” she said.

However, Megan Kissel, 28, would be the first to call her boy tougher. Over the years, Zak Kissel, 10, has broken both legs, both arms and his nose from falls related to instability caused by Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

In childhood, the genetic degenerative disease stymies the body’s production of dystrophin, a protein needed to maintain muscle cells and strength.

The Fall River Elementary School fourth-grader avoids pity-party talk to get on with his life as best as he can. He rides a power wheelchair at school and brings his golden retriever Genny, a frisky service dog, to fetch the things he drops. He earns a B average, loves playing hockey video games with his friends after school, dreams of being a cop and got a temporary Spider-man tattoo on his left forearm.

Zak Kissel’s determination — and his mother’s grit in caring for him and carrying him everywhere — kept them together and financially independent until February 2006. That’s when Zak Kissel took his last steps before switching from part-time to full-time wheelchair use. It spared him falls but intensified the pressure on his back, which worsened the curve of his spine from 11 percent in August 2006 to 35 percent in January.

In mid-June, he will undergo a five-hour surgery to get titanium rods inserted in his back to keep his belly button from resting on his thigh.

Zak’s mom has been doing all she can to raise monies, selling I’ve Got Zak’s Back T-shirts through Zak’s website and organizing a fun event this Saturday at the Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, that includes two bicycle rides, a chili cook-off and a silent auction supported by merchants and Fall River students.

Learn more & see how you can help!

Remembering Service Golden Retriever Abel

It grows harder and harder when I learn about another Golden succumbing to cancer. It is especially heart breaking when you realize the limited amount of time these wonderful souls are getting to remain by our sides. My goodness, Abel was barely seven years of age. Such a sweet, sweet boy.

Here is the incredibly sad post that I just received from his mom, Alice, at almost 2am:

“We had to put Abel to sleep today. He had gotten sick a couple of weeks ago but had seemed to be okay until last night. We ended up at the vet this morning and then were sent to the Specialty Vet in Seattle. Tests showed he had a large mass in his heart and a large mass in his abdomen that were both bleeding and were a very fast growing cancer. He could not even come home with us from Seattle because he was continuing to bleed.”

“Abel and I have not been separated since we got him at 8 weeks of age. He has been my constant companion and gave me the security to be alone at home or to go out alone. He was the sweetest most loving friend anyone could have. Our hearts are breaking as we try to understand.”

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Be sure to learn more by reading the First Place entry, Alice & Abel (and 4 other CCI puppies), from our prior Healing Power of Goldens Writing Contest.

Senior Golden Retriever Quackers helped by Acupuncture

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Needles ease pets’ pain
By Ranny Green, Special to The Seattle Times

Imagine, for a minute, that you’ve been a healthy and highly competitive athlete for years, then suddenly find it difficult to stand or walk without pain. Plus, your adventurous spirit has done a disappearing act.

That’s what confronted Sue Fox when she began taking her graying, 12-½-year-old golden retriever, Quackers, to the VCA Animal Hospital in Kent about two years ago. “Quackers was just not herself,” said Fox, of Seattle. “She lost some of her zest for life and quit waking me up every morning with her squeaker toy.”

Quackers was diagnosed with arthritis — common in older dogs — and put on medications. But after several weeks, neither Fox nor Dr. Erika Olson saw noticeable improvement and found themselves in an emotional balancing act.

Eventually, Olson asked Fox if she would be willing to try acupuncture for Quackers. “I was getting frustrated and didn’t know acupuncture was an option,” Fox said. “I was willing to try anything that would give Quackers a jump-start.”

Olson said not every animal is a good candidate for acupuncture, but that Quackers certainly was. “It takes a while with any patient to gain its confidence when you put it on the floor and begin poking needles into its body,” Olson said.

For more than a year, Quackers has been Olson’s almost-weekly pin cushion for the 15- to 20-minute procedure. Within a couple of treatments, the “old Quackers” began to return, Fox said. “She was moving quicker, and I could see that twinkle returning to her eyes,” Fox said, smiling. “And when she started waking me up again with her squeaker toy, I knew she was feeling good.”

Learn more . . . .

Our current food crisis — Seeing the bigger picture

It has been a very scary time these past few weeks as more and more dismal news presents itself regarding the pet food recall, the poisons detected, the implications for both the regulation of foods by the FDA for both human and animal consumption.

I came to better understand food ingredients when I woke up many years ago in distress and was subsequently found to have a level of antinuclear antibodies in my blood that was out of the stratosphere. I was allergic to almost everything and ingesting something with one of the dreaded ingredients could result in anaphylaxis. My biggest allergies were to those two substances most used in all of our processed foods, corn and soy.

I have come to understand much more about food, about our agriculture, about chemicals and pesticides, and so much more. And, it just scares me more and more. It is the reason that I emphasize the use of organics, for both ourselves and our animals. It is why I only use filtered water for myself and my animals.

Having lost two dogs to cancer, I decided to go with the best, something where I knew every ingredient to be organic and which was not processed at all. I have no fears any longer about quality and will never need to be concerned about contamination.

That is because I am using the organic pre-mix from CANINE LIFE which is actually milled in small batches in a kosher, human food facility. For those folks not familiar with the difference in kosher foods, let’s just say that achieving kosher certification is dependent on a level of Rabbinic supervision that is extraordinary. While having a kosher certification for a pre-mix is clearly not a necessity, it does make me that much more confident in the process with respect to what I am getting.

This organic pre-mix contains the most exemplary ingredients (Organic milled whole brown rice, Organic chick peas, Organic whole oats, calcium, carob, Acadian sea kelp, green tea, turmeric, oregano, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, ginger, and garlic). I add to it: organic egg, organic safflower oil, organic broccoli, organic red delicious apple, organic wild blueberries, organic thigh meat chicken, and 100%pure organic cranberry juice. It is combined and placed in muffin tins and minimally baked for 25 minutes.

When you are using quality ingredients, the new adage clearly becomes … less is more. There is no need for digestive enzymes, additional vitamins, or other boosters because all of those are provided in the pure ingredients that I am using. Because of the need for efa’s, I give a recommended 3000mg of wild salmon oil daily, but not baked into the food where it loses its value. I add it to the food after.

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Sadly, much of what I keep harping on at our foundation site is ignored. I only carry items in our store with proteins that are organic or free range, chemical and antibiotic-free. Only those items that I allow in my animal companions’ mouths are featured. Period.

I only allow for items that have organic rather than non-organic vegetables. Unfortunately, people see little difference between the two, for themselves or for their dogs, so my orders are very few. But, if you read the following, maybe you will reconsider what you put into your mouth … or even that of your beloved animal companion.

IS THERE REALLY A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POTATOES THAT ARE ORGANIC AND THOSE THAT ARE NOT?

Although higher costs are the initial objection to going organic, people are essentially unaware of the critical differences between organic & non-organic products. In a March 2006 article on produce losing vitamins and minerals over the past 50 years, agriculture and nutrition tradeoffs are detailed. “The fruits and vegetables that our parents ate when they were growing up were more nutritious than the ones we’ll serve our children tonight. As we have substituted chemical fertilizers, pesticides and monoculture farming for the natural cycling of nutrients and on-farm biodiversity, we have lessened the nutritional value of our produce.”

Non-organic fruits and vegetables are repeatedly sprayed and subjected to much pesticide. In fact, there are pesticides and chemical compounds commonly utilized to prolong shelf-life. When you eat non-organic sweet potatoes, you ingest the pesticide botran along with fungicides imazilil, benomyl, and thiabenzadole. These substances are cancer causing and sources of immune system damage. They cannot be removed by peeling and are used to allow longer shelf life, not fresher or safer food.

The shelf life for sweet potatoes, because of the application of these harmful chemicals, is a huge 36 months. That means, the potatoes you could be buying are not only questionable with respect to toxicity, they are also lower in nutrients due to the amount of time they may be waiting for distribution. Organic sweet potatoes, which do not utilize such pesticides or fungicides, have a shelf life of only 9 months. Organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to be higher in nutrients, and many studies have clearly proven the case for organics. Organic produce tastes better and reduces pesticide exposure. Organic produce contains 30% higher levels of antioxidants and organic farming can cut mycotoxin risk by over 50%. [Further discussion of mycotoxins can be found here.]

Non-organic chemical farming methods, which can speed up growth rates, cause structural changes to the plant─the plant then containing more water. That means the plant will contain less nutrients. In other words when you buy organic produce you get more potato for your potato. Organic plants also contain10-15% more phenolics, defense compounds believed to be helpful in preventing diseases such as cancer.

And, I extend this commitment to organic even with respect to the toys that I now advocate, as our dogs are always chewing or sucking on something. From the time they are pups, they, like babies, love to put things in their mouths. Sometimes it’s a dog toy—other times, it’s not! With our beloved companions munching away, we wondered, what exactly are they putting in their mouths? Is it safe and non-toxic? Even a non-toxic toy left us wondering, Do I want my dog chewing on toys that have PVC (polyvinyl chloride, a toxic chemical) in the plastic? Do I want him ingesting processed materials or those made using pesticides and growth hormones? Surely if we wanted the best for our dog, we wouldn’t want him putting these materials in his body.

According to 1995 data, for example, United States farmers applied nearly one-third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for every pound of cotton harvested. When all nineteen cotton-growing states are tallied, the crop accounts for 25% of all the pesticides used in the U.S. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic classified by the U.S. EPA. In addition, cotton is often bleached white before it is dyed, and the carcinogen dioxin is produced during the process. Chemical dyes frequently include toxic heavy metals such as chrome, copper and zinc, and sometimes contain known or suspected carcinogens. Even natural dyes, because of their poor colorfastness, are often accompanied by heavy metals to fix the dyes.

But, don’t take my word for it. Read the following two articles from the esteemed Dr. Michael W. Fox about organic agriculture and also the current pet food recall being a sign of a genetic engineered food disaster.

 

Organic Agriculture: The First Medicine of Holistic Healing
By Michael W Fox D.Sc., Ph.D., Vet. Med., MRCVS

We human beings are surely at the time in our biological evolution when we must reflect upon the direction our lives and civilization have been taking and where we are going. We are at a crossroads, and we must choose which road to take, using common sense and compassion as guide and compass. The road to healing begins when we all feel deep concern for the suffering that surrounds and suffuses us all with the darkness of a dying planet. We have made the Earth so sick, and ourselves in the process, because we have lost touch with the sacred dimensions of reality, Nature, of wholeness, balance, harmony, health and spiritual well-being.

We are so spiritually disconnected that we find reason to put our own genes into pigs so that we can use their hearts and other organs to replace our own diseased hearts and other organs harmed by our excessive consumption of animals and pollution of the environment and our vital food chain.

We are so cognitively disconnected from reality that we spray poisonous chemicals on the crops we feed to our children and rationalize such stupidity as the best and most efficient way to feed a hungry world and even to protect wildlife and biodiversity.

We are so emotionally disconnected from other animals that for economic reasons we justify incarcerating livestock in the cruel, intensive confinement systems of factory farming, and accept the suffering of other animals in vivisection laboratories in the name of medical progress. To question this pathology of anthropocentrism is not to put animals or Nature before people, but rather to demand a full ethical and economic accounting of those activities, values and policies that are harmful to the life community.

We think we are wise to take selenium, zinc, beta carotenoids, lysine, omega 3 fatty acid, vitamin E and C and other essential vitamins and trace mineral supplements. Because they are deficient in most of the foods we eat that do not come from certified organic farming systems, the produce from which have no such serious deficiencies.

But this taking of nutritional supplements/nutraceuticals, is not real healing. It is yet another quick “fix” that the American Medical Association tried to monopolize and obliterate in 1995, for the pharmaceutical industry. Organic farming is the ultimate antidote and first medicine since, unlike conventional chemical-based agriculture, it does not deplete soils and crops, and farmed animals and us, of these essential elements. But the herbal and mineral medicines of indigenous peoples and wisdom of midwives and shamans, like that of organic farmers, are threatened by expropriation, and will soon be subject to corporate exploitation and abuse.

A few years ago I was scheduled to give a major address on animal rights, agriculture and human well being at the University of Rochester, in Minnesota, home of the famed Mayo Hospital. Interestingly no bookstore in the city had any of my books for sale, that had been requested by the graduate student organizers prior to my lecture. They were embarrassed and angry, and told me that it was the doing of the “Mayo people.” State livestock and agribusiness interests were also involved. This alliance is now beginning to break apart as study after study shows the health benefits and economic savings of humane and sustainable organic agriculture, and doctors—as well as veterinarians—are advocating the adoption of organically raised, whole (unrefined, unadulterated, and un-processed), foods.

Like the good holistic healer, the organic farmer treats the soil with the same reverential respect and nurturing compassionate understanding as the good veterinarian treats animals. But as the power of pesticides has replaced the wisdom of the farmer, so over-the-counter drugs, computers and gene-jockeys have replaced the eyes of a good stockman and the services of the livestock veterinarian. All these substitutions are costly inputs that have a multiplier effect that undermines the economic sustainability of farming enterprises that are being sacrificed as the off-farm sector of agribusiness reaps more profits from their products and services.

When industry and corporate America adopt the principles of bioethical responsibility, as exemplified by farmers who follow the ethics and scientific principles of humane, sustainable organic agriculture, and consumers and legislators support them exclusively and “eat with conscience,” we will experience such healing that we will soon need no dietary supplements, like zinc and calcium, or vitamins C and E. We will have fewer cancers, heart attacks, osteoporosis, arthritis, allergies, food poisonings, babies with birth defects and children with neurological, cognitive and emotional disorders. And fewer obese cats and dogs that develop cancer, arthritis, chronic skin, liver, kidney, endocrine, immune system and a host of other diseases, many of which can be alleviated and prevented with better nutrition and purer foods.

We won’t need to make animals suffer in laboratories to find cures for these diseases of Western civilization: Or need pigs as organ donors. Nor will we need to legitimize the creation of transgenic animals that carry and suffer our genetic disorders to serve as profitable models for developing new drugs to treat the myriad diseases we have brought upon ourselves from cancer and chemo-sensitivity to immuno-suppression and auto-immune diseases. The replacement of animal-based foods with plant-based foods could result in an 80-90 percent reduction in cancer, according to Colin Campbell, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. A vegetarian diet is the best way for people to beat the obesity, diabetes, stroke and heart attack epidemic that is sweeping across the consumptive West to other counties that adopt the Western diet and methods of industrial agriculture. Grass fed, organic, and free range animal produce, from beef and chicken to eggs and cheese, are more nutritious, and ethically more acceptable than the produce from animals incarcerated in cruel, and environmentally harmful factory feedlots and confinement sheds. That some large corporations have co-opted the organic label for animal produce that comes from animals kept in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is a significant concern. A cardinal principle of organic animal agriculture is animals’ behavioral freedom and related ecological role in farming sustainably. This means that for dairy products to qualify as organic, simply feeding the cows organic feed and restricting the use of various drugs are insufficient criteria. The cows must have access to pasture and play an integral role most of the year in the ecology and economy of bioregionally appropriate farming systems. These criteria clearly make the ‘organic’ claims of mega, 2,000-10,000 dairy cowherds, patently false. CAFOs are anathema to organic farming.

Several studies have shown that organic farming practices are good for wildlife, and help in the recovery of regional biodiversity.

When some problem arises, as in our own health or in the health of our animals or the productivity of our crops and livestock, our perceptions are so limited and our motivation so often self-serving that we seek simple solutions — stronger antibiotics and other drugs and vaccines, or genetically engineered, disease resistant seeds and stock — rather than correcting the underlying systemic causes. The expediency of simple solutions, often touted as miracles of scientific progress, serve the short-term, profit-oriented interests of the industrial system. The core systemic dysfunctions and causal agents are not addressed, only the symptoms being treated. Bad medicine and bad farming practices go hand in hand. Like holistic medicine, organic farming is systemically integrated within the physical parameters of general systems theory and quantum mechanics as they relate to dynamic living ecosystems, with the overlays of ethics, esthetics, and metaphysics.

The pathogenic status quo maintained by the food and drug mafia is for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. That is why my books in Rochester MN were seen as a threat to the establishment which, because of its complexity of interdependent vested interests, is slow to change and to ever reach a consensus that could lead to reforms. But this status-quo is crumbling, however, as people change their diets, rather than taking drugs to lower their cholesterol levels, farmers turn to biological or natural methods of pest control, and human and non-human doctors adopt a more holistic approach to disease treatment and prevention for their patients..

Collectively, we fear to embrace uncertainty and seek control, instead of understanding complexity. We have no conception or resonant heart for concord and harmony with the life community. We slaughter dolphins, wolves, trees, and still even each other.

Our choice is either to extinguish this way of life or to extinguish all life that has no utility, no commercial value.

The less we cause animals to suffer, the less we will suffer. The less we harm Nature – the “environment” – the less we will harm ourselves, because, we and all life are connected ecologically, physically, psychologically and spiritually.

That most human diseases have a spiritual aspect has been long recognized by traditional healers. Conventional medicine does not address the spiritual, emotional, attitudinal, socio-ecological and economic dimensions of our dis-ease, or the many diseases of industrial civilization. It cannot be, so long as it is ideologically, economically and politically part of the industrial system that it serves and services. It is a medicine that cannot prevent disease or heal, even the rich who can afford its ever more costly interventions, so long as it can justify its Professors of Progress and Experimental Surgery, removing the hearts of baboons and replacing them with the hearts of genetically-humanized pigs to see how long they might live before the monkey’s immune systems predictably rejected these hearts. And when gene-juggling biotechnologists play god, putting insect toxin and herbicide resistant, antibiotic marker, and human antibody genes into new varieties of common food crops and then claim that these unique patented creations are ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional crops, rather than biological aberrations.

What great step forward might such experiments on fellow creatures make for humanity? Is it not yet another backward step into the self-destructive morass of our once noble species turning into a global parasite, if not a plague on life more pernicious than AIDS? Such animal abuse and cruelty is endorsed by the Catholic Church,’ if it is justifiable in terms of definite benefit to humanity’. This human-centered world view is embraced by the ruling bio-technocracy of the industrialized Western and Northern hemispheres to sanctify the commodization of animals and the wholesale, commercialized rape of what is left of the natural world.

The Eastern and Southern hemispheres are ensnared by the same pre-Copernican anthropocentrism of industrial progress and economic growth that is to be attained regardless of the suffering of others, of the holocaust of the animal kingdom, the death of Nature, and the demise of indigenous peoples and their once sustainable methods of farming and way of life.

We cannot put our faith and hopes in scientific discoveries that eventually prove how important the micro-organisms in the soil are for our crops to be healthy and our food nutritious: Or in new breakthroughs in agricultural and medical biotechnology. At best, it will be too little, too late. More instrumental knowledge and technological advances will be to little avail if we do not shift the operational paradigm from anthropocentrism to a more reverential Earth or Creation-centered worldview. This is a systemic transformation that begins with increasing public and political support for humane, sustainable and organic farming practices, and with holistic and preventive health care maintenance.

We have yet to see that most of our diseases are not simply physical in nature, but also have a metaphorical aspect that has to do with our state of being and relationships with each other and with the Earth. The deterioration of our immune systems, for example, mirror social and emotional stress and also the deterioration of the environment, of community values, and of the economy. That more holistically-oriented physicians are at last beginning to recognize these connections is a clear sign that a paradigm shift or change in our worldview is taking place and that the status-quo of conventional medicine, agriculture, the economy, and other social institutions is no longer acceptable. As more medical and veterinary scientists are becoming real healers, so more farmers are becoming real land-stewards. Their paradigm is based upon the following bioethical principles: compassion, humility, ahimsa (avoiding causing harm), reverential respect for all life; social justice; eco-justice, and the precautionary principle. These are the cornerstones of a healthy community and of a sustainable economy.

Advances in the science and bioethics of alternative human and veterinary medicine and agriculture that are based on this new paradigm hold much promise and should be supported by the corporate sector as well as by academia, the public and their governments worldwide.

The death of Nature will mean the death of humanity, since our humanity is derivative of the natural world, and has no primacy either in origin or in significance. There is nothing miraculously different separating the existence of ants and earthworms from mice and men. All are different manifestations of being, of the life force. None is more significant, in itself, than any other in contributing to the diversity and dynamic harmony of the life process and community. It is from this perspective of a reverential respect for all life and for its community, that through communion, the time of healing and hallowing will begin. This is a spiritual and ethical imperative, and a survival necessity for the human species in these times and at this stage in our evolution toward a wiser and more responsible, empathic and compassionate life form.

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LARGEST PET FOOD RECALL EVER – A Genetic Engineered Food Disaster?
By Michael W Fox D.Sc., Ph.D., Vet. Med., MRCVS, April 5, 2007

I have received several letters from dog and cat owners thanking me for ‘saving their animal’s lives’ because they were feeding them the kind of home-made diet that I have been advocating as a veterinarian for some years. These letters came after the largest pet food recall in the pet food industry’s history.

On March 23, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced that rat poison in contaminated wheat gluten imported from China was responsible for the suffering and deaths of an as yet uncounted numbers of cats and dogs across North America. The poison is a chemical compound called aminopterin.

Veterinary toxicologists with the ASPCA and American College of Internal Veterinary Medicine shared my concern that there may be some other food contaminant (s) in addition to the aminopterin that was sickening and killing many pets. Experts were not convinced that the finding of rat poison contamination was the end of the story.

On March 30, the FDA reported finding a widely used compound called melamine (formed by dehydration of urea and used in the manufacture of plastics, as a wood resin adhesive, and in slow-release urea fertilizer), in the suspect pet foods. The FDA claims the melamine was the cause of an as yet uncounted number of cat and dog poisonings and deaths. The FDA could not find the rat poison, aminopterin, in the samples it analyzed; however a lab in Canada, at the University of Guelph, has confirmed the presence of rat poison. There may be other substances of a hazardous nature not yet discovered in these manufactured pet foods that include other ingredients considered unfit for human consumption, and from around the world.

The Associated Press cited the Environmental Protection Agency as having identified melamine as a contaminant and byproduct of several pesticides, including cryomazine. People began to question if there is also pesticide contamination of the wheat gluten. Is there a possibility of deliberate contamination, or is it the result of gross mismanagement and lack of effective food-safety and quality controls that accounts for levels of melamine reported to be as high as 6.6% by the FDA in samples of the wheat gluten?

A brief internet search quickly reveals that the widely used insect growth regulator cryomazine is not only made from melamine, but it also breaks down into melamine after ingestion by an animal. Wheat gluten is wheat gluten, fit for human consumption, so the question remains, what was wrong with this gluten that it was only bought for use in pet food?

On April 3 Associated Press named the US importer as ChemNutra of Las Vegas, reporting that the company had recalled 873 tons of wheat gluten that had been shipped to three pet food makers and a single distributor who in turn supplies the pet food industry.

What of the uncounted number of people whose cats and dogs became sick, and even died? Several letters that I have received indicate costs of in the thousands of $ per animal; and what of long-term care costs for animals suffering from chronic kidney disease?

While Congressional hearings are now being called for by grieving pet owners, and class action suits put together, this debacle could have catastrophic consequences not only for conventional agribusiness, of which the pet food industry is a lucrative subsidiary, but also for the agricultural biotechnology industry, with its millions of acres of genetically engineered crops around the world.

I reach this conclusion, until there is evidence to the contrary, for the following reasons:

1. The wheat gluten imported from China was not for human consumption, because, I believe, it had been genetically engineered. The FDA has a wholly cavalier attitude toward feeding animals such ‘frankenfoods’ but places some restrictions when human consumption is involved (yet refuses appropriate food labeling).

2. The ‘rat poison’ aminopterin is used in molecular biology as an anti-metabolite, folate antagonist, and in genetic engineering biotechnology as a genetic marker. This could account for its presence in this imported wheat gluten.

3. The ‘plastic’, ‘wood preservative’, contaminant melamine, the parent chemical for a potent insecticide cyromazine, could well have been manufactured WITHIN the wheat plants themselves as a genetically engineered pesticide. This is much like the Bt. insecticidal poison present in most US commodity crops that go into animal feed.

4.So called ‘overexpression’ can occur when spliced genes that synthesize such chemicals become hyperactive inside the plant and result in potentially toxic plant tissues, lethal not just to meal worms and other crop pests, but to cats, dogs, birds, butterflies and other wildlife; and to their creators. (For details, see my book Killer Foods: What Scientists Do to Make Food Better is Not Always Best. Lyon’s Press, 2004).

How else can one account for samples of pet food containing as much as 6% melamine? It was surely not mixed in such amounts when the wheat gluten was being processed, but rather was already in the wheat, along with the aminopterin genetic marker. My suspicion is that the FDA was aware that the gluten came from genetically engineered wheat that was considered safe for animal consumption.

I could be wrong. But a greater wrong is surely for the pet food industry to use food ingredients and food and beverage industry by-products considered unfit for human consumption; to continue to do business without any adequate government oversight and inspection; and for government to give greater priority to agricultural biotechnology and the patenting of genetically engineered crops and animals, and not to organic, humane, ecologically sound and safe food production.

I believe that there is evidence of gross negligence, not simply on the part of the pet food industry, but by all who are responsible for food quality and safety in the global market that is clearly dysfunctional. The Pet Food Institute should start an emergency fund to compensate all veterinary expenses incurred as a result of this—and any future—mass poisonings of people’s beloved animal companions.

Golden Retriever Dylan, Denver’s Flying Dog Remembered

Rob Marshall is Denver, Colorado’s FOX 31 helicopter pilot/reporter, sporting much experience and an unblemished record for safety. Amazingly, he has taken his Golden Dylan, in the air, every morning for the last 10 years, speaking about their spending time together 24-7.

Dylan’s love of snow and mountains belies the fact that he was born in the marshlands of Charleston, SC. Dylan got his first taste of flying in LA and took to it right away. He has also starred in several commercials for Raley’s and his friendly personality, intelligence, good looks and manners won him many admirers. Dylan’s other interests include swimming, boating, hiking, chasing squirrels and collecting plastic water bottles for recycling.

Sadly, the Fox station announced today that Denver’s only Flying Dog has left for The Bridge. Recently, Rob had to make the difficult decision to put his friend to sleep. Dylan had been fighting health problems during the past year, that began with a diagnosis of bone cancer and subsequent amputation. And, while he seemed to be progressing in his rehabilitation, he developed problems in his spine that caused him difficulty in lifting his back end.

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Learn more through these two extensive and quite moving TV videos, as well as a gallery of photos of handsome Dylan.

Remembering Dylan, Denver’s Only Flying Dog

Rob Marshall Shares Memories about Dylan

Photos: Dylan, The Flying Dog

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The following are a series of videos with Rob and Dylan that show the last year’s trials and tribulations and more.

Denver’s Only Flying Dog Recovering from Surgery

Fox 31’s Dylan Recovering From Surgery

Denver’s Only Flying Dog Recovering at Home

Flying Dog, Polar Bear Share a Moment

Dylan Doing Well, Hoping to Fly Again Soon

Denver’s Famous Flying Dog is Back in the Chopper Again

Dylan Enters Rehabilitation

Dylan Continues on the Road to Recovery

Dylan the Flying Dog is Doing Great!

Dylan and Deckers

Dylan the Flying Dog’s Battle With Cancer

Golden Retriever Scout swimming to better health

Golden Scout had problems walking due to hip dysplasia. After four months of swimming, he’s now walking better and losing weight.

Have fun watching the following CBS News video. I just love watching my Alfie in a hydrotherapy session.

Pooches Shed Pounds At Doggie Gyms
Some Owners Are Hitting Fitness Centers To Improve The Health Of Their Pets

Would you pay $25,000 to save your dog?

Would you pay $25,000 to save a pet?
Price is no object for some when it comes to saving their animals
By Benjamin Niolet, News Observer Staff Writer, photos by Jason Arthurs

Jane Phipps takes a nap on the living room floor next to her dog Tony, who is recovering from extensive medical care that has Phipps facing thousands of dollars in vet bills. She says the extra time with Tony makes it worth the price.

About a month ago Tony, a dog, ruptured a disc and started fighting to breathe. His owner, Jane Phipps, rushed him to a veterinary hospital. He underwent surgery and spent 30 days on a ventilator. Tony pulled through, although he still needs physical therapy.

And now Phipps needs $25,000 to cover her vet bill. So far, her only plan to pay it down is a yard sale. She’s put more than $16,000 on a credit card.

“Some people think I’m a lunatic for spending that kind of money,” said Phipps, 53, a nurse who reviews medical charts for an insurance company. “My priorities are my family, and he’s a part of my family. …

“The way the world works now … the only person who really doesn’t judge you and loves you unconditionally is a pet.”

The bill shows how far Phipps was willing to go to maintain that relationship. As veterinary care has become more advanced, people have become willing to go to extraordinary lengths to care for their pets. The days are gone when there were basically two types of pet — the healthy and the dead.


There is more . . . .

Service Golden Retriever Ivan’s Training: Accentuating the positive

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This GReat photo from John T. Greilick, of The Detroit News, shows Maltby Middle School guidance counselor Dian Kolis with her Assistance Golden, Ivan. He is aptly demonstrating his recovery skills as he picks up sixth-grader Joey Vollmer’s wallet.

Check out the following news article and then Dian’s own essay to learn how truly special this partnership is between Dian Kolis and her “Walk/Brace” Assistance Golden Ivan. I further learned that this very astute Golden boy wears a harness to help Dian balance and navigate stairs, as well as help her sit and stand. He is also trained to step on her foot should she “freeze” in a Parkinson’s stall. Further, Ivan retrieves the telephone, picks up dropped items, and helps Dian up from a fall. I also visited PAWs with a Cause, the wonderful Assistance Dog group that had trained this team and learned so much more. I hope you read through the following pieces so that as Paul Harvey says . . . . “now you know the rest of the story.”

Students reading to help sponsor assistance dog
By Lisa Carolin, Ann Arbor News Staff Reporter

A school counselor and her trusty golden retriever have inspired students at Maltby Middle School to read for 20 minutes a day for the entire month of March, which is National Reading Month.

Maltby Counselor Dian Kolis returned to Maltby after a five-year absence because she was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Thanks to donations from three schools in Oakland County with the help of the United Way, Kolis was able to afford Ivan, a PAWS With A Cause Dog, who has literally given her the strength to return to her job.

“It’s because of Ivan that I could return to work and because of him that I am ambulatory,” says Kolis. “My coworkers had the idea to pay it forward, and we want to sponsor a PAWS With A Cause assistance dog for someone else in Livingston County.”

Students at Maltby are collecting pledges for minutes read during march that will go to funding a PAWS dog for someone in the county.

“The response has been overwhelming,” says Kolis. “Our students are learning about philanthropy, feeling good about helping someone else.”

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Below you will find . . . the rest of the story. It is fascinating to learn that Ivan has saved his partner’s life and alerted to cardiac arrhythmias. Just as interesting, though, is how their partnership was for a time threatened, yet managed to mature into something extraordinary.

A NEW START IN LIFE SPELLED: IVAN
By Dian Kolis, PAWS Client

Illness changes a life in an instant. One day I was too busy to stop and smell the roses and, seemingly, the next day I wished I were able to go outside, bend down and smell the delicate fragrance of a rose. I went from being the center of a whirlwind of busy activity to being quietly homebound.

Days might pass before I would leave the house I realized that I had not gone to the store alone in a year. I didn’t go outside to enjoy a sunny warm day. (The last time I was outside, alone, I fell and tore cartilage in my knee.) My days were not filled with creative time with art or needlework. (The hands can’t manipulate those scissors or hold the paintbrush or needle quite right.) Even cooking could be dangerous. (cuts from a slipped grip, oven burns from a trembling hand, falls from bending down to pick up dropped objects.)

Yes, life had changed. Each day brought challenges, loneliness, frustration and tiredness from meeting obstacles. And, when I received the call from Paws With A Cause that there was a possible match of an Assistance Dog who could meet my needs, I did not understand how dramatically my life was to change but again.

August 19, 2003 Ivan came to live with me as my helper. Our Paws With A Cause Field Instructors, Lori Grigg and Helen Dinsmore, had their hands full when they took on Ivan and me. My dog handling experience was very limited and Parkinson’s disease had left me with precarious balance, a slow odd walk, and pronounced muscle weakness. Ivan, on the other hand, was a big, strong, quick, hairy, eager and exuberant nineteen-month-old Golden Retriever. I felt overwhelmed.

Lori and Helen invested countless hours each week teaching Ivan and I to work together as a team. We learned that Ivan and I have many similar personality characteristics. We are both very sensitive to others and get our feelings hurt easily. We share a love of humor and like to play. Ivan quickly learned to slow down and approach his tasks with gentleness and patience. And I learned that lots of praise and a pocket full of treats would get you far in the dog world. But we were both unsure of ourselves and tentative

About seven months into our training we hit a big rough spot in the road. Ivan became less confident and felt overwhelmed by his job’s high level of responsibility. And, I felt that I could not trust him l00%. It was, wisely, suggested that perhaps Ivan should go back to the training center for a “career change.” Ivan and I both were devastated. We might have hit a rough spot in the training road but one thing was still solid: we had come to love and depend on each other. We were not willing to give up on our partnership. Ivan was eager to be my helper; he just needed help in learning how to approach his job with confidence.

With the help and wisdom of Lynn Hoekstra, PAWS SE Michigan Regional Director, Ivan and I began a new training regimen that focused on praise and basic obedience skills. Ivan’s harness was changed from the traditional variety to one that was less restrictive. We worked slowly and patiently through the spring and summer, training several times each week using lots of treats and a clicker to help Ivan understand when he was doing things “right.” Because Ivan responded so positively to praise, we acknowledged all of his positive skills and built on previous successes. Ivan quickly learned what behaviors we valued and, he was eager to please us with those behaviors.

Ivan relaxed and became more in tune to me. I relaxed and began to increasingly trust him. We both became much more confidant. We trusted ourselves and we trusted each other. Amazing things began to happen. As my brain cued into the rhythm of Ivan’s walk, my gait began to normalize. When I stumbled, Ivan kept me afoot. He began alerting me before the symptoms of cardiac angina occurred and awoke me at night when I had cardiac arrhythmia. And, Ivan began to ‘think for himself” and “problem solve.” Even though he had not been trained to do so, Ivan blocked my steps so that we did not walk into the path of a car whose driver did not see us. He saved us both from being hit by that car. We began working together as a team.

Yes, we are a team. We look out for each other. I watch that he doesn’t eat milk carton caps or earrings; he keeps me from falling. With Ivan, my family can relax a bit and let him take over “watching Mom”. We go to the store alone, take classes, visit relatives. As a team with Ivan, I can go and do just about whatever I want to do. Ivan and I visit schools as a part of the Paws-To-Read program and were speakers for the United Way annual drive this fall.

Ivan is an integral part of our family. My well-being is confidently placed in his care, and I know that he will never let me down. Thanks to Helen, and Lori and Lynn and the entire Paws With A Cause organization, I have been able to leave that homebound, fearful lifestyle behind me and re-enter the world as a person who has something to give others.

With Ivan I can, not only, smell the roses. I imagine he and I could even plant a few.

Golden Retriever Bailey at 15 and still going!

I think it’s time for me to get Alfie back in the warm relaxed waters of my local hydrotherapy center. I just love watching him go. He is not thrilled when we begin but I do think he comes to enjoy himself once he begins feeling comfortable.

I did the activity more with Darcy since she was involved in agility and had a touch of arthritis due to jumping with too much force on her exits from the a-frame.

I recently did a post about a new hydrotherapy operation in Waltham, MA, detailing the plight of Golden Therapy Dog Luke. It was so wonderful to see someone actually begin a new career because of an ailment in her own dog.

Well, this photo (by Bill Polo at the Boston Globe) comes from AquaDog, showing a 15-year-old lass named Bailey. Is this a great image or what? What a lovely face! I think she was a bit relaxed after her swim lol, now being helped out of the pool after the session.

Lapping up water workouts

Amy Lord says her 15-year-old golden retriever, Bailey, has been rejuvenated by her visits to AquaDog. “Since she’s been swimming, she’s had more energy; she’s been more playful,” Lord said. At first, Bailey was so frightened of the water she was shaking. “I was afraid she wouldn’t swim there. And now she goes for 20 minutes at a time,” said Lord.

An Inspiration: Golden Retriever Goldie

Canine American brings joy to Life Care Center
By Tammie Maddock

Goldie inspires and loves the residents and patients at Life Care Center of Columbia. Goldie understands pain. When this golden retriever was rescued from the animal shelter on Shop Road by Lori Smith, she was tattered and torn, but her spirit was not broken. Smith, the center’s rehab services manager and devout animal lover, knew Goldie would be a perfect addition to the center’s Eden Care program.

Smith took her home and immediately began to work her into the routine at Life Care Center. Within two weeks, Goldie was a well-known face among patients, staff, and visitors. She brought smiles, laughter, and lots of energy. She also fit in with the other animals in the center.

After a while, Goldie’s right hind leg became an obvious source of pain, and Smith and her staff worked with veterinarians to help the canine companion who had won their hearts. Doctors at the N.C. State Veterinary School ran tests and found out Goldie was only four years old, and that the bones in her leg were injured due to repeated beatings incurred during her first few months of life. They could repair the damage with a hip replacement.

The surgery went well, and Goldie was back at Life Care Center serving as an inspiration to patients and residents who had undergone similar hip replacement procedures. She went through physical therapy with them, and with lots of work and love, they healed together. But Goldie has developed an infection around the replaced hip and is once again unable to use her leg. Veterinarians have determined the only way to save her life is to remove her right hind leg. The surgery has been scheduled for April 7.

There’s more . . . .

Golden Retriever Comet saved by $45,000 Bone Marrow Transplant for Lymphoma

Believe it or not, the cure for Comet’s cancer involved dog lovers in five states and four countries. And, it is a perfect illustration of what comparative oncology is all about.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has performed hundreds of experimental bone-marrow or stem-cell transplants on dogs over the past 40 years. The perfection of these procedures and techniques are now used worldwide to treat cancer in about 40,000 people each year.

“The early research that led to successful bone-marrow transplantation in humans was based on research conducted on dogs with cancer. For this we can thank man’s best friend for contributing to a legacy that has saved … thousands of people around the world,” Dr. Rainer Storb, who participated in the research, said in a statement.

Learn more in the articles below. You can learn more about this procedure and its successes at Suzi Beber’s Smiling Blue Skies.

Dog Saved by Bone: £30K Marrow Transplant Op for Cancer Pet
Exclusive by Lucy Laing and Dennis Ellam

WHEN Comet the golden retriever was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, his vet said there was only one solution – give the dog a bone marrow transplant. And the way his tail wags now, it seems Comet knows he is a medical marvel. His life was saved by a £30,000 stem cell transplant, the first of its kind performed on a canine. And the result has been spectacular. The eight-year-old golden retriever has finally been declared free of the cancer that almost killed him.

Comet was stricken with lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the immune system, and chemotherapy was no longer holding the disease at bay. He was given just a few months to live, as no dog had ever survived for more than a year after being diagnosed with lymphoma. “We watched our Comet become so ill,” said owner Nina Hallett, 68, who moved from London to Seattle 40 years ago. “One night I heard the back door creak open and I found him digging a hole under a bush – he was trying to crawl away to die.”

Comet’s vet Dr Edmund Sullivan decided that a transplant was his one final, albeit slim, hope. Nina and her lawyer husband Darrell, 63, seized it. They abandoned plans for a new kitchen and put the money towards their pet’s surgery instead – a staggering £30,000.

“We knew this kind of transplant had never been done before on a dog with his condition, but we also knew it was his one and only chance,” said Nina. “So we never hesitated. It wasn’t even a close decision. Whatever it took to save him, we would do it.”

But first they had to find a suitable donor. The mammoth search involved dozens of dogs and their owners across five states of America, and abroad.

There’s more . . .

But, first, here is an unbelievable article from a couple years back at the beginning of the ordeal . . .

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What price a pet’s life? $45,000 to treat Comet
By Warren King, Seattle Times medical reporter

Comet is like many golden retrievers: gentle, devoted, enthusiastically greeting each day with his wagging, plumed tail. He loves to swim, run in the woods and pack around his large toy hamburger. But Comet is different. He’s one of very few dogs worldwide to receive a stem-cell transplant for cancer treatment, rather than primarily for research. Cost of the therapy: $45,000.

The Bainbridge Island dog got the transplant last summer after developing lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph tissue. Now, after a long, steady recovery, he is showing signs of being cured. The effort to save Comet involved dozens of dog lovers in five states and four countries, a renowned explorer in Honduras and a pioneering cancer center in Seattle.

His owners never flinched at the cost.

There’s MUCH more . . . .

This story in SD just about broke my heart

Blind pooch awaits return of missing pal
By Celeste Calvitto, Rapid City Journal correspondent

Sadie leads Buddy by the leash during one of their many walks together before Sadie’s disappearance. (Photo courtesy of Kim Plender)

BOX ELDER — Buddy, an endearing blue heeler, never had a clear picture of his best friend — a loveable golden retriever named Sadie.
Yet Buddy, blinded by cataracts, knew when Sadie went missing last fall.

“For two months, I had to coax him to eat,” said Kim Plender, who refers to herself as Buddy’s “seeing-eye girl” since Sadie’s disappearance. “He was in mourning.”

Buddy, himself a lost soul, wandered onto the Box Elder ranch of Ron and Kim Plender in April of 2006. “He was standing by the fence, and Sadie went to fetch him,” Plender said. “When the light shone in his eyes, we could see he was blind.”

And so could Sadie.

That became apparent one day when Plender, Buddy and Sadie were heading back to the house after a walk. Buddy was on a leash, and at one point, Sadie tried to get the leash from Plender. She handed it over to Sadie, who led Buddy the rest of the way home.

It became a ritual that continued for months as the Plenders searched for Buddy’s owner. Newspaper ads and calls to the Humane Society of the Black Hills and the police yielded no results, and the bond between Buddy, who is between 5 and 8 years old, and 1-1/2-year-old Sadie grew stronger.

“Buddy is such a happy dog. The only time he barks is in his sleep,” Plender said. “We really feel blessed that he found us.”

Then came that October day when Sadie — a “real hunter” who loves other animals — disappeared. “She ran out to meet my husband, then ran off. She was barking at something,” Plender said.

But because Sadie has a microchip and an American Kennel Club Recovery for Life tag with an 800 phone number, Plender believes that she was taken by someone. “Whoever has Sadie wants to keep her,” Plender said. “If she had been hit by a car and was in a ditch, someone would have seen her and contacted us … I keep hoping Sadie will get away from the people who took her.”

The Plenders’ efforts to locate Sadie have been unsuccessful. They know that as time passes, the odds of finding her are dwindling. But now, there’s even more of a sense of urgency for Sadie to come home.

When Plender took Buddy to a veterinarian to discuss the possibility of surgery for the cataracts, there was a troubling discovery. “The blood platelet count was very high — 2 million instead of 500,000,” Plender said.

The first thought was that Buddy may have bone-marrow cancer, but Plender is optimistic that is not the case. “He is just too healthy for that kind of disease,” she said. “It’s got to be something else. He is a little bit anemic, so they are wondering whether his platelets are trying to compensate for the anemia.”

While the Plenders await a definite diagnosis, there’s a nationwide support system for both Buddy and Sadie.

Before Sadie vanished, Plender wrote an article for Country magazine about Buddy’s blindness and the bond between the two dogs. After the story appeared, people from five states contacted Plender to see how Buddy was doing. Plender keeps them updated, by e-mail, on Buddy’s condition and the search for Sadie.

In the meantime, Buddy waits for his friend to come home.

He may not be able to see Sadie if she comes bounding down the gravel road leading to the Plender ranch. But there’s no doubt he’ll know she’s back.

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Update on Indigo

Over $20,000 has been raised at this point. I only wish Indigo could be helped but strides with hemangiosarcoma are just not here yet.

Click here and then click on the film icon to see a clip of Indigo in action. What a sweetie this boy is. He is gorgeous, intelligent, and so darling. But, I wonder where his breeding is from. I hope that Tufts is taking some kind of tissue samples so that they can be entered into applicable tumor databases.

Golden Maddie is a Life-Saver

I shudder when I hear about Goldens weighing over 100 pounds  since that is about 40 pounds over standard. But, I think in this story the extra weight is what allowed Maddie the ability to do her life-saving maneuver. She is a cutie and obviously a very smart girl to do what she did, though. Just watch below.

Dog Saves Toledo Woman’s Life in Bitter Cold
WTOL Raycom Media

This recent bitter cold weather could have killed a Toledo woman, but she had a guardian angel on four legs. Her dog saved her life.

Sam Good has something called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy that affects the nerves and muscles in her body. It sparks painful seizures through her body. “It’s like Restless Legs Syndrome times 100 and it’s through your spine,” said Good.

Good told us she was getting ready for bed last week with nothing more than her pajamas on and decided to turn out the lights on her unheated back porch. She said the cold ignited another seizure and she fell onto her loveseat. “I was in a ball and I got in a ball because I knew I was going to freeze,” Good explained. “I thought I was going to freeze to death because I couldn’t get words out,” she added.

Temperatures at the time were in the teens.

In the seat, in intense pain, Good says she was finally able to call out Maddie’s name quietly by human standards, but plenty-loud for a dog. “She keeps picking my arm up and picking my arm up,” said Good while re-enacting the event. “And I’m like, ‘Maddie, I can’t.'”

“And she just put her back under my belly and kept lifting and lifting,” demonstrated Good. At that point, Good says she could barely get her arms around the dog’s neck. “She had to keep lifting me onto her back to get the rest of me because I was numb… my spine… I didn’t feel anything.”

The 104-pound Golden Retriever carried Good on her back, dragging Good to her bed inside. Good was still hurting but was warm and eventually the seizures subsided. If it wasn’t for Maddie’s rescue? “I’d been froze,” Good pointedly told us.

She also said Maddie isn’t just her best friend, “she’s the best dog ever.”

Therapy Golden Luke gets Relief

I have loved being able to take my dogs for hydrotherapy sessions, as they have gotten so much out of the activity. So, you can imagine how excited I was to discover the following article. But, I surely wish Pam Tewes could be in my area of Maryland rather than that of Massachusetts.

Her Golden boy Luke is surely one lucky guy as it’s not too often a mom develops an entirely new career to meet the health needs of her dog. For those folks in the area of Waltham, get on the phone and set up a time for your dog. While this is great for rehabilitation purposes, it is also a wonderful activity and great exercise for any furkids out there. And, it is done in an intelligent way so that a dog’s muscles are most accomodated.

For more information, visit aquadogfitness.com, or e-mail info@aquadogfitness.com. To schedule an appointment, call 781-893-2364 or send an e-mail. They also have an introductory coupon for $15 off so now is the time to provide your dog with such a great time.

Doggie finds relief in the pool
By Jennifer Roy, Roslindale-West Roxbury Transcript

When Pam Tewes’ dog, Luke, was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia four years ago, his vet told her to take him swimming. It sounded like an easy enough solution to keep her aging best friend comfortable, but Tewes, a West Roxbury resident, soon found “there was no place to go.” I live on the Charles River, and I wouldn’t jump in,” she said.

Her husband, Bob, said allowing the 11-year-old golden retriever to swim in dirty water could lead to more problems for the pooch and more veterinarian bills for the couple. Water could have bacteria in it which may lead to infections. It’s cold and may have rocks and sticks in it that could injure a dog, he said.

“You have to break the law, which we don’t want to do,” he said, of finding places for Luke to swim safely.

Rather than becoming outlaws or constantly feeding Luke pain medication, Pam Tewes decided to open AquaDog Inc., an aquatic fitness center at 96 Clematis Ave. in Waltham. It opened last week. “I want my dog to be pain-free, but I want him to be healthy,” said Tewes, a long-distance runner who often trained with Luke. “When I could, I swam him.”

She said she did not want Luke to have to rely on painkillers, especially since one type he was prescribed has been found to cause fatal and long-term side effects.

Looking for a more permanent solution, Tewes started studying aquatic dog fitness, and went out west and to Ohio, where she completed two certification programs — one in pool work and safety, the other in massage therapy. “It’s big on the West Coast,” she said.

Tewes, a canine swim specialist and a member of the Association of Canine Water Therapy, also does in-home dog massages by appointment, and is a Reiki practitioner for people and pets. Reiki is a form of massage.

Luke is also a Delta Society therapy dog. The Delta Society is an international, nonprofit organization that trains animals to help improve the health of people with mental and physical disabilities, and for patients in health-care facilities.

At AquaDog, Pam Tewes gets right in the 3,000-gallon fiberglass pool with the dogs which are fitted with life jackets. Their owners are not allowed in the pool for safety reasons.

The water is heated at between 82 degrees and 86 degrees for fitness swims, and gets hotter — about 90 degrees — for massage therapy. It does not contain chlorine, but has a state-of-the art, ozone-based purification system. “I personally hate chlorine because it hurts my eyes,” Pam Tewes said, “and, we know that dogs drink.”

She said AquaDog is not only for ailing dogs. It also will cater to overweight dogs, help anxious dogs relax and provide relief for dogs with mobility problems. It may be open to cats in the future. “Swimming is a lot more vigorous,” Pam Tewes said. “Three minutes of solid swimming equals three miles of running. High-energy dogs can work out their energy here.”

Bob Tewes said the facility is handicapped accessible, and if a dog can’t even make it down the ramp, its owner can drive right into a garage adjacent to the therapeutic pool. Pam Tewes said she chose to open in Waltham because of its accessible location to MetroWest and greater Boston.