Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Warming Alternative to Cooking

I was warned by Vida's holistic vet that if she got more lipomas I'd be advised to go from raw to cooked food for her. This is to relieve the dampness that is behind their appearance.

Well, if you've been reading my blog you can imagine my resistance. It's not that cooked food is bad, I just don't see her as needing that much diet adaptation.

Well, I have a theory that kinda splits the difference. I think that freeze-dried and dehydrated diets warm the food up without going quite as far as full cooking.

So I've been playing around with it, being wintertime (and very wet and relatively chilly here) it's a good time to warm things up a bit. I'm a big fan of mixing and matching food anyway, so I've been mixing regular raw with Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried raw (the Duck Duck Goose flavor), or mixing the freeze-dried with Honest Kitchen. (the warm/hot water to rehydrate it literally warms it too). She eats it up quick, no matter which permutation.

I'm very lucky to have easy access to all these goodies, of course. But really, it's all cheaper than the mainstream advice I was given (further surgery, radiation, etc). And it's way more fun for both of us!

Oh yeah, and I just joined Twitter... tryin' it out!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...

Does anyone have a dog that will eat anything put in front of them? No matter what anyone says I think that we all experience that trials and tribulations of the food dumped on the floor and the pills spit out.

A month or two ago I tried feeding a food to Vida because it fit the bill for "moving chi," which is the goal right now. Primal Pheasant, with ginger and other plants that together should be a chi-moving delight for any raw-fed dog. Oh no. Not for mine. It was spit out and picked at, even when mixed with the reliable taste-improver of Honest Kitchen Embark. I couldn't just let it go, though, I kept the food.

Now that the season has decidedly shifted to Winter I tried it again. Score! She loves it and eats it up quick as can be, without any special preparation required. It seems that her body has decided that, yes, this is an appropriate food now.

I'm glad I trusted my instincts and hers.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tea for Two

So here's my first tea recipe for Vida. I'm going to take it as well (and my mom too - a household experience). I could use the liver tonifying effects of this blend so I figure why not make just one for us to share.

Dandelion Root and Burdock Root are the main ingredients, plus Red Clover Blossom, Calendula Blossom, and Nettle. In TCM these are all rated cool or neutral - an interesting thing I noted with alteratives. Since she likes the warmer foods like Venison I think this will provide a good balance. While I have stronger herbs that I could use, I deliberately left those out because she's been taking them for a while. I can layer them in if I wish to, or alternate.

Roots and flowers should be cooked differently when making medicinal teas. Roots (with a couple of exceptions) need to be cooked a bit, so simmering for a while is in order (this is called a decoction). Flowers are more delicate, so they just need to be steeped - the water brought to a boil and poured over the flowers, covered and let to sit for a bit (this is called an infusion). Since I'm mixing roots and flowers I'm cooking the roots for about 20 minutes, then turning the heat off and tossing in the flowers (and keeping it covered during these processes - need to keep the steam in!).

Vida'll get a tablespoon twice a day, I'll get a cup (I may add a little flavoring to mine, cinnamom or stevia - I'm fussy). I could put this on a weekday plan, and take the weekends off, but really, these are fine to take every day, especially for the initial use (two months for instance).

For those interested in a few notes on each item, read on:

Dandelion Root - a classic for tonfiying the liver, and thus the blood. the root and leaf (and flower for that matter) really should be a regular part of the diet. Good source of minerals (most roots are).

Burdock Root - Another excellent blood cleanser and nutritive (lots of iron in those minerals). This can be used liberally (you can buy it at health food stores and eat it).

Red Clover Blossom - an alterative with anti-tumour
and waste elimination properties.

Calendula Blossom - a great soothing anti-inflammatory

Nettle Leaf - very nutritious anti-inflammatory. Even has anti-histimine effects.

To learn more about these and other herbs, the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine has an amazing list of links to PDFs and websites with more information. Autodidacticism is a great attribute.

What's in "Max's Formula" anyway?

Since I've been using this blog to track my care of Vida, I thought I'd just write down the herbs used in Max's Formula before I throw the empty bottle away:

  • Angelica (Bai Zhi)
  • Rhubarb (Da Huang)
  • Platycodon (Jie Geng)
  • Astrea (Mu Li)
  • Trichosanthes (Tian Hua Fen)
  • Prunella (ZIa Ku Cao)
  • Scrophularia (Zuan Shen)
  • Fritillary (She Bei Mu)

Of course this doesn't give the proportions, which is an important part of formulating blends, so I'd advise sticking with a pre-made product unless you are an herbalist who knows these plants. This formula is available through vets only. I considered linking each herb listed, but that would limit the information to one source. One should always consult multiple sources when learning in order to get a balanced view of the plant and its uses.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ack! Lipoma?

Just when you think yer makin' headway....

Last night I found what appears to be a lipoma on Vida. In the skin of her left stifle (knee), sort of between St36 and GB34, for those of you familiar with acupoints. I know it's brand new because I did some acupressure on her last week and worked on that area.

It's a Phlegm condition, which is what we've been working at resolving already with the cancer. I guess I'll be contacting Dr. Weingardt for advice on whether I need to get back on the strong herbs (and not take a break as we'd planned). I'll check her pulse a few times first, see if it's slippery again or still firm. I did some Reiki this morning that she was in the room for (she often prefers it that way, less intrusive than hands on). I'll probably do a little energy work tomorrow, maybe offer her the bloodstone.

Some say that lipomas are the body's way of encapsulating toxins. This would make sense, since we've been trying to drive out toxins for a few months now. Having it push out to the skin like this is one way the body could be dealing with it - though of course I'd rather it was removed altogether. I prefer this idea to the idea that the problem is just wandering around her body. [sigh]

Next post will be about tea! Stay tuned!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Great Vet Visit

Today's visit (our second with holistic vet Keith Weingardt) went smoothly. Vida was much more comfortable - flirting shamelessly for salmon jerky.

My favorite part? When he looked in her mouth and then looked at me and asked "Where was it?" Yep, no sign of it, except that her gum is pink instead of the black that's around it (she has both colors throughout).

We discussed what had happened since the last visit, and looked at a timeline of maintenance. Everything looks so good as far as "cancer" goes that how to maintain through the seasons and keep the stagnation from manifesting physically again was the main discussion.

We'll come back to see him in early Spring, and plan on quarterly visits unless something unexpected happens. We'll keep up with the general food supplements (wholistic pet, antioxidants, joint supplements, fish oil), as well as the NK-9. And of course keep up on checking her pulse and other acu-type things to notice, as well as energy work (reiki, and the bloodstone every so often).

We'll finish this month-long round of Max's Formula (Chinese herb blend for phlegm clearing) and then stop. We'll hold off on the Quantum Herbal A/T-B/C until Spring (we'll see him just before we plan to use it), and plan to use it quarterly.

A new part of the plan for maintenance is to use milder alterative hebs on a tonic basis. Alteratives are blood-cleansers. The A/T-B/C tincture is an alterative blend, but it contains some really strong herbs that should not be used constantly. I'm going to use ones that can be used more tonically, and try using them as teas, which is a better format for tonic use too.

My plan to try first is two blends that I alternate weekly. I'll brew a medicinal-strength cup of tea and feed it on weekdays (probably a tablespoon each meal), so her body gets a rest on the weekends. Dandelion and Burdock will certainly be included - maybe in both blends. Nettle, Oregon Grape, Red Clover, and something nice like Calendula to round it out - I'm sure it will change somewhat as I go, and as I see how Vida does with them. I'll post when ready.

Are you wondering how I keep this all straight? Well, this blog helps, but I write it down in my appointment book. It's the best way to keep track of when to start or stop herbs, or to note when something unusual happened, or when you changed something, when you did bodywork, etc. A weekly roundup wouldn't be a bad idea. If you use an appointment book you might as well really use it, eh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Energy Dog!

First, the backstory.... My friend Paula Brown provided energy dowsings for pets at Dexter's this past weekend (modest fee, 50% went to the Animal Safehouse Program). She found a fairly strong energetic blockage in Vida's mouth (at the front, right side), which confirmed that we still need to battle that from growing into another physical manifestation. She also found blockage in her chest (hmm, same as last year, as was the mouth... yikes). Further dowsing indicated this to be a Heart Meridian issue.

This is the kind of indication that shows there's a place for energetic healing work. This is the idea that energetic imbalances come before physical ones, so address it in the energetic stage before it gets physical.

Paula suggested adding a bloodstone to her little collar packet, and I decided to also use the stone directly with some Reiki. My plan was to work in the area of her heart and heart meridian, with this energetic work as well as acupressure (though Vida clearly prefers energetic work, and often does her own Tui Na).

I haven't used crystals or gemstones much, and don't claim to be very knowledgeable about them, but I figure that if I believe that everything in the natural word has energetic properties it's hard to outright deny the idea that they can have a beneficial effect on the energy of another. I approached it with an open and positive attitude.

This morning I woke early, and decided to offer Vida some energy work with the two small bloodstone pieces I had. Since I've done Reiki as my energy work I planned to use that, with a stone in each hand, and focus on her heart area. She got up on the bed and tucked in so I could put my left hand under her front leg on her chest. I wanted to put the other hand on her chest too, but she just wouldn't settle in so I finally just stretched my right arm out with my hand open, expecting to just have it hanging out there. Well she had her own idea on this...

She started licking my open hand with the stone in it, and then put her muzzle into my palm, her nose pressed up against my fingers (I had to flatten them so she could breath), and the front-right area of her mouth pushed up to the bloodstone.

She stayed in that exact position for almost thirty minutes!

Now you need to understand that this is not normal for her. She does no more than a cursory morning cuddle, and she never shoves her muzzle into hands. She definitely has a point of view about her healing!

Clearly she knew better than me in this case. She knew the bloodstone's healing properties needed to be focused on her mouth, and made sure the stone's blood cleansing energy got there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Anarcho-Herbalism" (a linked article)

I could write my own version of this pieces, but why? Here's a link to Anarcho-Herbalism: thoughts on health and healing for the revolution.

I've always looked on my holistic care interests as D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself), with the goal of being able to take care of basic health concerns for me and my pets with some self-education and low-cost supplies. Of course I need medical doctors to diagnose and treat major illnesses for myself and my pets - no argument that there is an important place for that. But to be helpless until so sick we have to go to a doctor - that's just foolish!

Besides my more mainstream care practice I also do a zine called Radical Pet that is a more forthright and opinionated version of my beliefs. Where they intersect is in my efforts to help owners become more self-reliant in caring for their pets holistically.

Read and discuss!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are Acupressure and Cancer Simpatico?

This is an issue that comes up for acupressure practitioners like myself. As with most significant questions, there isn't one answer.

In fact, the discussion of this brings up more questions? What kind of cancer? How is the dog's general vitality? Are they in hospice?

There are some that believe acupressure/acupuncture are not appropriate for those with cancer because it will stimulate the cancer itself, or cause cancer cells to disperse to other areas of the body. Is this possible? I don't know. I'm not sure if anyone does, or if it's dependent on the type of cancer, or a collection of factors.

There is another way of looking at it, which is looking at the animal as a whole, the vitality, condition, whether there is pain or inappetence, is there phlegm stagnation, etc., then using acupressure in accordance with TCM (traditional chinese medicine) principles.

This is also the time to bring up other branches of TCM - food and herbs in particular. Are these being used?

I don't pretend that acupressure can cure cancer. I do believe that given the right circumstances a TCM approach can do an amazing job against it. At the very least as a support to western clinical practice. I got my dogs growth removed surgically, after all.

I always look at cancer in context, not as a singular diagnosis. How else can one live?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Everyday Herbs

These days I'm finding that herbs are becoming more and more a part of our daily life. Whether it's drinking tea, taking tinctures, or eating fresh and dried herbs, Vida and I are both benefiting from it. It feels like a more thoughtful way of taking care that is EASY!

This morning Vida had her usual cadre of herbs added to her food, while I squeezed some "Avena's Elixer" (an adaptogenic tincture) into my juice and took a couple of spoonfuls of a tasty "Rejuvenation Tonic" (who wouldn't, with a name like that!). I'm drinking herb teas more often (I love the ones I got from Jean's Greens, they're medicinal and they taste good!).

I admit to having a weakness for tasty prepared blends - so easy!

There are some great herbs that can be helpful to keep the system running more smoothly if we'd just take them on a regular basis. With our dogs we often forget that "vegetables" can and should include more than what is found in the typical American dinner salad.

We've got cultural amnesia when it comes to food, whether for our pet or ourselves. Most of us don't explore historical recipes that include foods that we now see only as "herbs". Heck, just think about dandelion greens - a green food that's great for our liver. I know, they can seem a little bitter, but I, for one, have realized that not only has my cooking repertoire atrophied, so has my palate.

My soup for tomorrow? Wild mushrooms and barley, with tempeh, kelp threads, and a little burdock root, plus of course carrots, garlic, and whatever spices seem to be a good taste fit. Maybe Vida will get a serving too!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Erratic Chi?

I think that the Chinese herbs for resolving Phlegm are working. The chi dispersing erratically, in a way. Skin is drying (itchy back), more frequent reverse sneezing episodes, behavior ranges amplified. I'm hoping this is just transitory, and a part of a shift as the Phlegm state dislodges.

She also starting spitting out the pills too, hmm....

I tried out some new food... that didn't go down so well.

She always loved Farmore brand raw bison food. Unfortunately the company seems to have gone belly up and the food isn't available anymore. So I decided to try Primal Buffalo Grind. I'd tried the Mix in the past, but she spit it out - this may have been the mustard greens in it, who knows. I tried the Grind this time because it has no veggies, so I could customize it (I thought the Mix had to many "sweets" in it).

I was surprised to learn that the food has very little
fibrous muscle tissue in it. The ingredient list is heart, liver, buffalo bone. I called the company and found out that the bone was neck bones, so there was some meat there, but by the looks of it when thawed didn't indicate any to me. It had no muscle structure to it at all.

Vida liked it and ate it, but within an hour she would be at the water bowl, drinking. Then, invariably, she'd throw that water up (along with a little bit of the food). For a couple of days she did OK when it was mixed with other food, but it happened again even when it was only part of the meal. She never had any trouble digesting it.

I definitely don't think there was anything "bad" about the food.I think it was just too "hot", and the water drinking was her way of trying to cool it down a bit. Now this is surprising to me because the species has never been that way for her in the past. Buffalo, while a red meat, is a pretty large, calm animal.

I think it's simply because it doesn't have enough fibrous muscle, so it ends up too heavy on organ meats. Heart is a funny one, half-way between a muscle and an organ. In this case I think they've really gotten the balance wrong. They don't advertise this food as complete, but I don't think they should play fast and loose with the muscle/organ ratio.

I could buy Bravo buffalo that's just muscle meat, and combine them (or combine the Bravo with Preference), but that ends up being a lot of food to deal with at once, and let's face it, kind of a hassle. There are other choices out there.

Oh, well. So much for buffalo as her favorite food.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Calendula's Gold Leaf Food Adornment

When I put a pinch of dried Calendula flowers on Vida's food I'm reminded of the practice of putting gold leaf (yes, real gold) on food in India. It's done for special occasions, and while of course it's decorative, it is edible, and it said to aid digestion.

Well for me, Calendula is far more valuable as a dinner decoration because we know it's medicinal, and it's still pretty.

Calendula is best known as a skin repair herb, and we usually see it as a salve or ointment. It's anti-inflammatory properties work well in the digestive system too. It can be given as a tea or tincture, but I've been experimenting with the dried flower petals (though I'm intrigued with the idea of dogs drinking tea with their meals).

Since I'm studying my herbs more seriously now, I'll list some of the actions of Calendula: anti-inflammatory, stimulates lymph circulation, heals wounds, astringent, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, liver and gallbladder stimulant....

I had a bag of dried Calendula flowers that I brought back from an herb conference, so I added it to Vida's food as an experiment. I felt that the blood cleanser she'd been getting might be irritating her stomach just a bit (it has Poke in it after all), so hoped this simple addition would offset that a bit. I'm making a skin rinse for a friend's dog that will include Calendula, too, so experimentation continues.

It's an easy grower. You want to get seeds or plants identified as calendula officinalis, which is popularly known as Pot Marigold. Then you can use it fresh, or save it dried or as a tincture. I have some seeds that I need to replant - I got the previous generation of seeds from an herbalist in Lakeside, CA who has a wonderful garden. When I went there for an herb walk we were invited to take some Calendula "dead heads" if we liked, and they grew perfectly for me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Describe her personality." ..... umm.. let's see...

I ask this questions all the time and when it was asked of me I got a little stumped. You'd think it'd be easy, but you should consider preparing an answer when you visit a vet that uses traditional chinese medicine.

Questions about personality help form a picture of the animal constitutionally. I was suprised at the difficulty I had summarizing, and for the remainder of the day I revisited the questions and realized what I'd left out that would've been helpful.

The main thing I left out was her possessiveness. This will be mentioned on her next visit.

I described her as generally confident, friendly and adaptable, a good negotiator with other dogs, a little phobic at times, and a bit of a worrier.

I've always struggled with characterizing her overall - Wood? Metal? I think, as with my lack of acupressure work on her, this is a symptom of being too close to work properly. My emotions become enmeshed in the process, and in her response to the process.

That is something I'm determined to work on in the two months 'til the next vet visit. Guess I'll be doing some flower essences! I did start Vida on a new essence today - Goldenseal. This is mainly because of a couple of structural things going on, and how they relate energetically to the big picture. It should help clear energy pathways (according to the description), so I'm trying it out - for me too, just to see how it goes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vida's 1st TCM Vet visit

The wait was worth it! Vida had her first visit with Dr. Weingardt today and he's exactly what we've been looking for in a vet, especially in terms of making sure this cancer doesn't show up again.

And I was totally geeking out on the TCM talk! Tongues, pulses, phlegm.... gimme more! I wanted to have him slow down so I could take notes and ask questions about it all, but of course the visit was to assess and take care of Vida, so I refocused on the purpose of the hour. (though I did get a copy of a great two-page food action and energetics chart... did I mention geeking out)

Vida was soooo nervous when we got there! It took her forever to get calm, despite the home-like atmosphere. She wasn't sure she believed us when we tried to assure her there would be no cutting or poking or narcotics. So much for the usual confident and calm demeanor.

So there are no plans for surgery. He thought that was extreme, especially considering the excellent condition of the site now. We're going to concentrate on food, supplements, and herbs (and my own bodywork on her) to clear stagnation and phlegm. He thinks phlegm is really the condition shown by this growth. It's exciting to talk to a vet that is really of the same mindset and perspective - it's a first for me. Her TCM assessment otherwise showed good strong chi, a little slippery aspect to the pulse, and a little softness at BL20 (spleen association point).
[I sure hope I'm remembering this correctly - blogging immediately helps]

So what's the plan now:

"Max's Formula" by Dr Xie of The Chi Institute, a chinese herbal blend to transform phlegm (in this case another way of picturing an anti-tumor blend). She's been on the Quantum Herbal A/T B/C for almost two months now, so it's time to let her rest from the strong blood cleansing herbs in the formula. She'll get this new formula for a month, then go back to the Quantum for two weeks, then back to Max's - then we'll see how she's looking and feeling.

Vetri-Science Cell Advance 880, an antioxident blend to bump up that aspect of her diet (this will be in addition to Wholistic Pet Canine Complete that she already get
s, which has a baseline of antioxidents).

Otherwise, it's continue with the NK-9, ensure she's getting enough Vitamin C (500 mg 2x daily) and Omega 3s (1000 mg 2x daily), and that she's getting foods that will move chi and transform phlegm (we'll see if she likes Primal's Pheasant Formula in the rotation, as it's veg mix has some).

I was going to switch from the Connectin to DGP for the anti-inflammatory herbs, but the fact that the DGP formula is "proprietary" (i.e. secret) makes it hard to compare. I've emailed the vet with the Connectin ingredients just to check.

OK! That's everything for now! Whew! Big report on the big day. Now back to feeding, observing, and thoughtful body work (I'll record some of that for the next vet visit).

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Sun is Shining!

Monthly photo day. Don't her teeth look wonderful? And lovely gums (and spit bubbles, haha). A beautiful sunny day and a beautiful mouth, who could ask for more?

So the supplements are gaining, powder, tincture... stir, stir...

I got a list of immune boosting and chi moving foods during a teleclass on feeding for cancer and recently took a look at it. I thought I ought to do my own veggies in order to better control the amount and type, but then, lazy me, came across the profile of Primal's Pheasant diet and will try that for a taste test and hope she likes it as an addition to her diet. It's only 15% veggies and it contains some of the foods on the list, like ginger, blueberries, rosemary, mustard greens, spirulina, cilantro, squash, almonds....

How cool is that? And how easy! I know that the fruit and squash are sort of on the bad list of foods for cancer because you want to reduce sugars, but I think that with all the veggies that are mixed to total 15%, the amount of those is so small that I shouldn't worry about it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Taking Herb Breaks... stop worrying!

I admit to a little fear. Vida was due for an herb break, having been on her anti-tumor blood cleanser for about a month (seems I recorded the date on the blog but not in my date book, bad nurse!), and according to the company she should be getting routine breaks as with any herbal tonic.

I was worried already, and skeptical that the person answering the phone at the company had nothing to say about this mixture specifically. On the other hand I know that this is correct. They recommended a few days every two weeks, or in my case, a one week break after the month of constant use.

I couldn't help myself. I believe the herbs are doing good, and I didn't want to allow an opening for tumor growth. Paranoid or what! Not a good state of mind to be in, for me or Vida.

I wanted to have something else to give her as a stop-gap, but something different. At the store we had something I had ordered for this purpose, a mushroom extract called NK-9 that had been sitting on the shelf in obscurity. They happened to send along some articles about medical studies done on it and it looked really good, so I brought that home as her interim product, though I do plan on continuing it too.

I'm usually a whole plant proponent rather than using an extraction of only part of the chemistry of the plant. However, this particular extraction, AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound), has had a lot of studies done on it, so I figured I'd give it a try (especially since I was the one who had ordered it for the store way back when). Hopefully I'll learn a little more, or get some additional guidance from the holistic vet we're seeing in a couple of weeks.

Vida was skeptical of eating it with her food this morning. I emptied the capsule and mixed it in (raw egg with fish and veg from Western Supreme, plus supps), and I could smell it, but it didn't smell bad. She sniffed it and gave me a look, but eventually ate it all. I told her it was important for her to eat it. Hopefully she keeps complying.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Back from vacation, and of course the dog is fine

I'm sure everyone who travels away from their dogs worries. I tried really hard to think positive thoughts about Vida for the two weeks we were apart (sheesh, we sound waay too close! haha!)

I know I have a bad habit of running through negative scenarios, and I'm really working hard at shortcircuiting that when it happens and turning it around to running positive scenarios.

I do believe our pets tune into that sort of thing, and it can only be detrimental to aim those negative filmloops their way. So I've been making a concerted effort to visualize good health, no stress, etc (for myself too). I know it's corny - these days everyone is putting out books about the power or positive thinking, but in this case I'm specifically putting it in terms of how our pets sponge up our stress.

Everyone needs to watch what they're thinking. Dogs are experts at living with us. For most dogs their job is to adjust to our emotions. We certainly don't want them taking on our negativity and absorbing that stress from us.

I consciously waited a couple of hours after getting home to peek in at her mouth. And it looked just like when I left - hooray! Of course I'm still going to take a photo in the next day or so just to confirm and track - but I swear, no changes! [I just took "yet" out of that sentence! See what I mean?] A good day! (dog got up on the bed during the night - aahhh.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Weekend of Plant Love!

Wow! I just got back from the New England Woman's Herbal Conference in Peterborough, NH. 48 hours of herbs! It was very inspiring. Probably more about inspiration than education this weekend, actually. It's always hard to choose what workshops to attend when you have so many overlapping. Unfortunately the two animal-focused ones were profoundly disappointing, adding nothing to my knowledge. In fact, it solidified my belief in the need for my continuing my education and becoming a better dog practitioner and advocate.

I did attend a great session about adrenal fatigue, and how stress can, through this physical issue it causes, be the cause then of further health problems. It was really educational to learn the science of that. I wished I'd done more of those advanced workshops.

It was a fun weekend, lots of food, evening dips in the pond before dinner, nighttime performances, and an exhibition tent full of intriguing products. I bought a set of nine flower essences made from at-risk medicinal plants that seemed to be a good set of traumatized and troubled animals (weird how that worked out). Everyone should hear about United Plant Savers, by the way, which advocates for endangered and at-risk medicinal plants.

I really hope I can attend this conference again (and maybe even teach at it some day).

I'll be updating folks with my new learning, don't worry.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Visual Records.... Visual Art

I know, more clinical photos of my dogs front teeth.... but now I'm kinda gettin' into these mouth photos.

Today's kinda came out cool. The one on the right especially.

The artist side of me is coming out. And really, that's not so unusual - make art out of what you're faced with (probably why I like them so much is that they're a little blurry.

I took these because I won't see Vida for two weeks, and I want to have a visual record of how things look. That's really the only way over time to be sure what's going on, if something starts growing back abnormally.

She was very nice about letting me take them too - lips squished up, camera close-up in her face, waiting patiently for me to finish.

I'm going to our camp in New Hampshire for two weeks. I'm also going to the New England Women's Herbal Conference a couple days after I arrive. Three days of herbal learning, including two pet specific workshops. I'll post about that as soon as I can - internet via the local library when I'm in NH.

Vida'll be hangin' here with my mom, who has to follow this list of diet guidelines (which really is easier than it looks:

only dried fish skins or the dried turkey heart of buffalo liver pieces that are in the treat jar (had to discuss again the issue of starving cancer cells by avoiding sugars, even in fruit).

Each Meal:
two patties (8 oz total) Bravo Balance, turkey or beef
Half-tablespoon Wholistic Pet Canine Complete
Half-tablet In Clover Connectin
8 Drops (strictly!) Quantum Herbal A/T Blood Cleanser
2 teaspoons (approx) Liquid Health Glucosamine
1 tablespoon (approx) Animal Essentials Omega 3 Oil (Fish, E, Borage)

That, and I'm forcing my mom to take her to the dog park (my dog is much more social than my mom). Not that she plays a lot, but it's still a good social visit.

I guess Vida takes after me with the worrying thing, hehe.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wooly Balls!

Vida's 1st flock of wool balls. Yes, flock. She likes to collect them back together after they've been flung about the room, and takes pride in ownership.

The white one is a bit bigger than a tennis ball. Some of the others are a bit smaller than I like - I forgot about shrinkage (though of course that's how they're made all tidy).

They're 100% wool, the colors are natural wool colors, no dyes or bleach. Some of them have squeakers (though it's harder to get those ones made just right).

She hasn't gone beyond a little textural exploration with them yet, but if she does destroy them I can just save the wool and reuse it as stuffing for a sewn or crocheted toy.

No more synthetic plushies in her mouth, oh no!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A nice non-clinical photo

I figured I should post a nice non-clinical photo of Vida. Here she is hanging out at the dog park today - not looking at the camera.

For those who don't know her she's 8 years old, just over 40 pounds (she looks like a big dog without a person there for context).

Anyway, not a super action photo (there are a couple swimming ones on her Dogster page, where you can get all the 411 on her, in decorative Dogster style), but more of a reiki-dog one.

Is West Nile A Danger to Dogs?

It seems that we've got another scare on our hands. People are asking about how to protect their dogs from West Nile Virus. Though I don't consider this a threat for my dog, I decided I'd go looking for the official word.

People need to remember to put things in perspective - risk from nature vs. risk from chemicals. Science can bridge this gap if (a) people are willing to learn a little bit and (b) are aware enough to see the propaganda of the chemical industry that wants to sell you toxins to "protect" your pet.

You can see how this can apply to many other issues - fleas (which now are seen as some super-danger), food, vaccines, snakes, mosquitos, etc., etc. But I digress.

Here's my take on West Nile. It poses very little risk to dogs (a tiny bit more to cats). The main reason is that most dogs will show no ill effects at all, and the rest will show only slight ones. They seem to absorb the virus and develop antibodies easily.

And there is no risk of you or your horse contracting it from your dog, so rest easy on that account.

The following is from Contra Costa County Health Services:

Can West Nile Virus cause illness in dogs or cats?
Yes, West Nile Virus can cause illness in dogs or cats. Most dogs or cats infected with West Nile Virus do not show signs of illness and most will recover from the infection. Experimentally infected dogs showed no symptoms after being infected with WNV, and some infected cats exhibited mild, nonspecific symptoms during the first week after infection.

Can an infected dog or cat become a carrier of the disease?
The evidence suggests that dogs do not develop enough virus in their bloodstream to infect more mosquitoes. Cats develop slightly higher levels of virus in their bloodstream, but it is unclear if this would be enough to infect mosquitoes. It is very unlikely that cats would be important in furthering the spread of the virus.

The information closely matches that from the CDC website.

I find it funny that they say the animals can get sick when they then go on to describe pretty much nothing, especially for dogs. They manage to plant that seed of doubt that people latch onto when they are not comfortable dealing with health naturally.

I'd be way more concerned in my area about Ehrlichiosis, which is much more common (and passed by ticks, by the way). Never heard of it? Yep, neither had I, until last year! This is your chance to do a little internet research, ok. Teach yourself.

So do the usual - fresh food diet, supplements (antioxidents, trace minerals, EFAs, aromatics), and natural pest deterrents and controls as needed (I spray with essential oils when going on a trail in warm months). Don't freak out!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Killer Herb, dude!

Cheesy, I know - what can I say, I live in Leucadia.

Last night I started Vida on the blood tonic from Quantum Herbs. The dosage for her is about 10 drops each meal (twice a day), so I started her on 3 drops last night, 4 this morning, 5 this evening..... it's important to give the body an adjustment period.

Here are the ingredients: Red Clover, Graviola, Venus Fly Trap, Burdock root and seed, Oregon Grape root, Blood root, Poke root, Yellow Dock, Chaparral, Lobelia herb and seed, Periwinkle, Prickly Ash bark and Apple Cider Vinegar.

Wow, right! Lots of stuff. You'd really need to look each one up to get the picture of how it works (maybe I'll add that one of these days, or to the next issue of my zine, Radical Pet). Basically it's designed to help the body remove toxins, and create an environment in the body that's unfriendly to cancer cells.

This same idea is behind feeding dogs diets that are high in protein and fat, and low in carbs. Fat in particular provides energy to the dog, yet starves cancer cells. So Vida's already on a good diet with raw. I just increased her fish oil a bit (back to where it used to be actually), and cut out the biscuits and pancakes. Here treat jar is now filled with freeze-dried turkey heart and buffalo liver.

I'm not expecting an herbal cure, but wouldn't it be a nice surprise if nothing weird grows back! I do think this will slow down progress, maybe even a lot. I'm definitely feeling confident about this for the next little while.

I'll post a new photo in a few days, it's healing up well, though still a bit tender.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Gone for now (photo)

Here she is, 3 days post surgery. The spit bubbles are obscuring the emptiness where the vet cauterized the flesh between the teeth.

She's a little pink today, and seems a little sore there, but no real swelling. Not interested in having it exposed - this photo was the third try to get one without the tongue flicking out.

Bad News....

It's a Plasma Cell Tumor, or Plasmacytoma.

Excision works well for these, apparently, but I'm not jumping into that quite yet. Removing a few small front teeth and the gums would be ok, really, but not more than that.

First I'm going to start her ASAP on a blood tonic. I'm going to use one from Quantum Herbal called A/T Blood Cleanser Formula for pets. I don't expect a "cure", but it's a start at slowing the whole thing down.

It can't be helped I guess sometimes. Raw food, all the "right stuff" and still cancer. Ugh.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Growth Be Gone

Vida had her yucky little tumor thing removed this morning. Her mouth looks lovely now, but I thought I'd spare her and haven't taken a photo yet of it sans bulge.

She still feels pretty cruddy. I think it's because, despite our conversation about no i.v. sedatives, the vet slipped her a sub-cutaneous ACE shot ("just a kiss" as he put it) right before we started her on the gas. They were worried about her going down on gas-only, but I can't see how the sub-cu shot could've taken effect so quickly as to have any effect on how easily she did go down.

They cut out the offending tissue and cauterized, and even cauterized on either side of the tooth to try and get what they could without it being too much to sustain her tooth (in the event it's benign.... getting all this?). They also gave her sub-cu fluids as a precaution against dehydration.

They were very nice, letting me help hold her to go down, and letting me sit with her in the pen while she woke up. By then the ACE had taken effect, and she was super woozy. I sprayed Five Flower Formula on her paw every few minutes, and a homeopathic liquid called "Accident/Rescue" from Newton Labs (has arnica, hypericum, etc), and did a little bit of acupressure, tui na, and of course reiki.

She was pretty much napping, but after about 20 minutes I took the leash out of my pocket and the sight of that got her up on her feet. She wobbled out to the car.

That is the thing about sedatives and mixed breeds - you may not get the result you expect. This may point to her having sighthound in her, more sensitive to sedatives. I hope they make a note of it.

Once she got home she didn't want me out of her sight for the first hour or so, despite her wobbly-ness. She's been napping since then, with a little walking around in between. It's been several hours so I put her water bowl down, but she's not interested yet. Nauseous still, I guess. (her water has a collodial silver and melissa hydrosol additive in it made by AromaDog - called Lickity Spritzer)

I'll be doing a couple liver points tonight to start her detoxifying the anesthesia, and will give a homeopathic detox tomorrow.

Then we wait a few days for lab results, grrrr.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scheduled for Excision

Well Vida's scheduled to have her weird sore removed in a few days. I asked for "a conservative diagnostic excision." The actual removal only takes 5 minutes, so I'm going to just have gas used (isoflorine), and no i.v. sedative. It's stressful for the dog at first, but they wake up immediately when the gas is turned off. I'll help hold her for the beginning. If it were a more involved procedure I'd go for the sedative, but for this I think she'll be fine. Reiki will come in handy (for me and her)!

And I did pick up some wool roving yesterday, and some squeakers today, so it's wool ball time!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Toys as Cancer Culprits?

We've all heard about the possible danger of "toys from China", but mainly in terms of vinyl. I read yesterday that oral cancer is the fourth leading cancer in dogs (better fact check that again, just in case). What?? In people it takes something like chewing tobacco - obvious to us, yeah.

Well what about those plushy toys for our dogs?

I tell you what, that first thing going are all my dogs plush toys! I found a website with instructions on how to make felted wool balls, so I'm going to make some of those.

I'm also going to look in to sewing some toys - yes, sew my own! They may not be as brightly cute as store-bought, but I know the dog doesn't care about that.

It may be too late to prevent the start of things in Vida, but I'll be damned if I'm going to keep putting the possible cause back in there!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yikes! What is that?

Well, Vida went to a vet for the first time in about 7 years to have this thing looked at. I noticed it about two months ago or so, a little smaller, after she'd been chewing on a bone (so I thought she'd just hurt it on the bone). Then family problems made me forget to check it and it grew a bit.

It looks like she'll have to go under anesthesia and have it removed so it can be sent out for testing, because it's either nothing (a mouth wound that just won't heal) or cancer. Yep, nothing in between those two extremes.

I'm a little freaked out, to say the least. She's eight years old, and truly, I figured we're only at the half-way point for her lifespan. Now this potential havoc.

Bloodwork comes back tomorrow to see if she's ok for surgery. Then wait to see the medical outcome. Then the big decisions about how to treat it if it is cancer.


But don't her teeth look lovely! Just a little wear on the ends, but pearly white!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"Sprouts on the side please!"

Vida didn't appreciate the sprouts mixed in with her Farmore buffalo. She ate it, but with the funny "yuck" face. Tonight I put the sprouts on the side and she ate the meat, then the sprouts, no problem.

The yuck face was in evidence a few days ago when she suddenly decided that she didn't like the Bravo turkey undressed (i.e. without honest kitchen added). She managed to choke it down. I don't know why she felt that way, but I wasn't going to waste perfectly good food.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I always forget about sprouts. I don't know why, because they're such an obvious choice for springtime. Sprouts are the epitome of Spring.

Is your dog eating lots of grass? How 'bout offering sprouts?

I bought Red Clover sprouts the other day, but you could use alfalfa, or if your dog like greens even the big sunflower sprouts. Don't get onion sprouts. Radish... would depend on your dog. Wheatgrass is good too.

Sprouts, weak-walled baby plants that they are, are easier for dogs to digest compared to adult plants.

And of course you can eat them too! It's always cool to share food with your dog.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Honey! The Magical Elixer

I've been a believer in raw honey for awhile, but lately I've become a real advocate.

There was a recent article in the New York times about a study on folk remedies for mild burns. The only one that really worked was honey (and I didn't even know that was a use for honey).

Feed your dog and yourself local raw honey on a regular basis. There are so many reasons why - antibacterial, reduces allergies (that's why you want local, for local pollen response), heals skin (topically), great for dogs that are too ill to eat regular food, or as a first food after surgery.

It doesn't take much (so don't go givin' your pup a cup-full), and is so good, and dang it, it tastes good! Why not!

People then always ask where to get raw, local, unfiltered honey. Well, health food stores will often have at least regional honey (if not, ask them to). Farmers markets are usually your best bet. Now, in the age of craigslist, you can find almost anything online.

If you can't find local don't give up, any raw unfiltered honey will give you all the main benefits (thinking on allergies is local matches your needs best, but also your support local beekeepers who's bees are pollinating your local plants), and even some mainstream stores will stock it.

I think wildflower honey is best, but of course seasonal changes are the thing, so you might end up changing crop honeys a few times a year. It's just that wildflower is getting you the best variety of "ingredients" in the honey.

Vida now knows the sound of the ceramic honey jar being opened, and comes in for her serving. I just drip some on my finger and put my hand down and she licks it off (she's learned to be quick and not let it drip on the floor).

So there ya go, my rally for honey, y'all.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"I want to DIY my pet's meds, but the first $$!!"

I just finished the latest issue of Radical Pet, and I have a couple of recipes that use essential oils and other ingredients for dealing with fleas and ear problems. When you only have one pet that initial outlay for ingredients can be big, especially when you're not using much of each one. This simple problem can definitely stop people from making their own remedies, so I want to offer a couple of ideas.

First, get together with friends who have pets and pool your resources. Co-op the production.

Another idea to consider (either solo or with friends) is to make extra to donate to rescue groups or people who foster animals waiting for adoption. You may need to form a relationship with a rescue group before they'll accept a "homemade" remedy, or you may be able to find some that already do that themselves. It will help if you can offer a remedy with a recipe from a reputable source. For example, the recipes in RP5 are cited from a reputable book. They may be a bit suspicious if they think you just made it up yourself.

So get out there and DIY your pet care, yo!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Two Books Everyone Should Read

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan - an energetic, entertaining, and educational read about to results of the corporate food takeover.

WIld Health by Cindy Engel - shows that self-care is something the rest of the animal kingdom seems to be better at than we are. Fascinating.