Am I friendly?, I’ll let you know

Even though they look happy, keep your face from harm

It’s an all too familiar story, a person approaches your dog. They crouch down to pet your dog, they put their face near the dog and BAM, the dog bites. What do you do now. At that exact moment, life changes drastically.  It becomes a sad day for both you and your guilty dog, or is it?.

Humans have the innate ability to humanize animals, all sorts of them. We see story after story about accidents with animals and humans, we want to pet them, we want to hug them, we want them to be gentle. We have this grandiose idea that if we are nice to them they will love us, even though they are wild and undomesticated.

We think they know our language and every word is comprehended.  Sometimes we do get blessed by adopting a dog that really understands what we are thinking and feeling, they get us right?.  Well, usually it is the exact opposite, they don’t have an elaborate vocabulary, actually they understand about 200 words and what they mean.  So, that topic is for another day, another story indeed.

Humans try so hard to make animals their friends. We try and try to make them huggable, loveable and engaged with us.  The problem is that the people posting videos on You Tube that are closely interacting with exotic animals have been trained to know the temperament of the animal.  It takes years and years of intense training and they have been apart of the animals life since birth.  So, keep that in mind when wishing and longing for the intimate connection with these exotics.  Most likely they have been bit a time or two.

Take the story about the selfie and the panther. Getting that close to a wild animal is very dangerous and gutsy. it didn’t go quite as she wanted it to and she got away easy. It could have been a much different outcome. Thank goodness she wasn’t more injured than she was.

The rule is “just because your dog is friendly does not mean other dogs are


I love my animals. They are my solace and my joy. They make me laugh and they make me cry. At times they frustrate me, just like children frustrate their parents. I am a parent, a pet parent. My children have four legs and fur.

Coco at 7 month

Like humans, they also have a God-given ability to sense danger. It can be in the form of an approaching vehicle, another dog in the vicinity that is mean and humans that want to hurt another. Though the person may seem harmless, our animals have that sixth sense to sense danger where we don’t think it is.

Animals, dogs, in particular, are very good at assessing the situation before it even gets to you. They can also sense when something is getting into their space. They have that six sense just like humans do. I have my space and I get uptight when someone invades it or crosses into it. My mood changes and my protection mechanism engages. The same goes for our dogs. If something is invading their territory, their demeanor changes. It might be that their fur stands up straight, they may show their teeth, they might back up and freeze in the spot they are standing. Whatever they are thinking, we need to be able to see the signals.

We need to respect in two ways, canines need for space and what demeanor the next dog approaching has.   Just because my Coco is friendly, it should never be assumed that Fluffy coming down the sidewalk has the same demeanor as mine. Humans are Bio-Individual, meaning we are unique onto ourselves, it’s the same thing within the animal world. No two breeds are alike as well as no dog within the specific breed is alike as well. Get that?. Just because a pit bull has been labeled as scary and dangerous, it does not mean every pit bull is going to be scary and dangerous.

Don’t assume they want to engage with you

Watch the signs of greetings. Stay clear of the introduction and let them do their thing

The rule is “just because your dog is friendly does not mean other dogs are” Some may be nervous, both around humans and other dogs, reactive, fearful, in training or owned by people that want to be left alone. I remember a potentially serious situation during the yearly festival I attend. We were at the VFW and sitting on the patio. A very kind gentleman wanted to pet Max. He began to approach our table and Max’s hair began to stand up and he started to show his teeth. He growled quietly and came by me, in fact he crawled under my chair. I told the gentleman that he is nervous and wants to be left alone. The gentleman didn’t heed my warning and attempted to pet Max again.   He tried up to three times and no time was better than the first. In fact, it became worse each time he tried.

Cocker showing agression

What’s important to note is that his friend who was a wheelchair-bound veteran approached Max and he gave that man lots of positive attention. What happened next is the guy that initially wanted to pet Max tried again, and guess what, that same thing happened, but the situation had intensified.   He began to growl, showed his teeth and then started snapping. In the eleven years he has been with me he has never snapped that way. Sensing a serious situation was brewing, and quickly I might add, it was then that I had to put a stop to it. I finally said “I have no idea what he sees or senses, but I need for you to not come over here and stay away from him, thank you”. As soon as I said that, he went to another table and started bothering someone else. It was only after that did Max calm down the ears and tail relaxed and he began engaging with others once again. So, don’t assume they want to interact with you or your children. In understanding my dog, I saved myself the heartache and grief of losing my dog or being involved in a lawsuit.

Tips on being a smart dog owner

Think about the connection between humans and animals. Humans sense negative and positive behavior. I am one of those sensitive people that read people and my intuition is extremely high. I know immediately if someone is a good person or one that takes advantage of a situation. My guard goes up, my stomach starts to roll and I keep to myself. The same goes for animals. They feel something similar but in a slightly different way. So, knowing this, how do we go about being a smart pet owner, one that is both reactive and proactive? Well, you need to know your dog.

See your dog. When I say that I am referring to actually seeing your dog for the first time as not just a pet member of the family, but actually seeing him as a very important part of your life. He is your warning siren. When there is imminent danger approaching he will be the first to pick up on it. Remember my VFW story?. Max knew there was something not safe about the guy that came over to us and he started the warning siren and boy did it go off. He let us know loud and clear that he didn’t like the man and he was protecting me. Who knows what that guy was thinking. I took his lead and paid attention. The danger left and he was back to his happy and kissy self.

Pay attention to the message they send you. It is so vitally important to pay attention to messages your dog sends you. They are constantly sending them wherever you are, be it at home, out for a walk, in the car, it is constant. they are on high alert twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.   So, learn to pay attention to the signs they are sharing with you. It can mean a safe exit or a very painful outcome like handing over your dog to the authorities or a hospital stay, including a tetanus shot.

Seek out the advice of experts and a trainer. If you haven’t yet, it is a good idea to seek the advice of an expert that has not only personal experience but formal training added to the expertise. I sure do not want my dog in the hands of someone who thinks they have experience because they already have a dog. Just because someone has a dog and offers to help with advice, make sure they have outside training and certification. I hate to see someone get bit because they THINK they know what they are doing. It becomes a true mess. Let’s avoid the mess by being responsible dog owners. Admitting you are asking for assistance with your pet is not a bad thing, it actually is a very good thing and you are doing your family member a favor. So ask, it’s ok.

Remember, with the right understanding of your pet, sign specific you will have the best experience, lots of memories and tons of aha moments!. 

Adoption | The Right Way

Adoption, the Right Way

The Story

If you are looking to get the best puppy for the lowest price because you don’t want to pay alot for him| her, you should probably rethink your plans.  If that sounds harsh, it is intended to be.  When it comes to cost control, it shouldn’t be.  If you cannot afford the initial investment, then rethink your decision to adopt.  Adoption of a puppy and the initial investment can be quite costly. If you are looking for a puppy and don’t want to pay over $1000 for it, then maybe wait and adopt at a time where money is not quite an issue.  Let me explain and then you may look at what I said a little differently.  Let’s say you are looking for a Cocker Spaniel, one without a health issue, clean breeder and a healthy past history meaning the pedigree 3 generations back, you will be paying over $1500 to upward of $2000 easily.  That is just for the breeder taking time to birth healthy puppies.  It is a lot of work to create, deliver happy, healthy and well-tempered puppies.  It’s only when care, patience and time are devoted to the process, the breeder will deliver amazing dogs with amazing temperaments with less euthanasia and fewer veterinarian visits.

When I began my search for a healthy puppy, my goal was different.  I was looking for a puppy to breed later in her life.  As I began my search, I called around my area and one lady I spoke to charged $700-$800 for a Cockapoo.  She was older and I didn’t want to adopt from her because I knew she probably is breeding more than a few times per year with the same female.  I thanked her and moved on. Remember, the less it costs you in the beginning, the more it will cost you, in the end.   It may cost the dog his|her life, as it did my beautiful chocolate cockapoo which I still miss dearly to this day.  Her life should never have ended the way it did and I attributed it to the Dam and Sire from the farm I purchased her at.


Remember, the less it costs you in the beginning, the more it will cost you in the end

Checklist for adopting a healthy puppy | The top five

Adopting a puppy can be a very overwhelming decision.  Just so you know, it doesn’t have to be.  Being prepared will help you adjust faster so you and your puppy can be a happy partnership.  Listed below are five of the most important steps that you as a responsible pet owner needs to establish.

  1. Talk as a Family.  Being on the same page is crucial for happiness between you and your new family member.  Remember, they can feel your love or your dislike for them.  Puppies are sensitive to how people react, so make sure everyone is happy with the decision.  They will be with you for a very long time.
  2. Look at your finances.  There is more to than the adoption cost.  There is the nutrition, grooming and healthcare costs.  Some dogs are prone to health issues and have specific grooming practices.  For instance, my cocker spaniel needs professional grooming each month to keep her from tangles.  Some dogs are prone to genetic problems such as eyes and heart.  That’s where nutrition plays a key role.  Some breeds need special diets to maintain eyes, joints, and heart, keeping them at their optimum health.  Those diets can be significantly more expensive, so bear that in mind when choosing a family member.
  3. Consider the Health of other family members. Besides the health of your potential pet, what are your health issues?  Look back at your interactions with dogs in the past.  When you enter the room do you begin to sneeze and your eyes water?.  Well, you may be suffering from allergies to that particular animal.  This can be a potential problem for both you and that breed of animal, so keep that in mind when carefully choosing your future family member.
  4. Visit the dog you are interested in. The dog you are interested in may be perfect in theory but in real life, he or she may not be the right fit for you and your family.  Make arrangements to visit the dog you are interested in adopting.  This will alleviate any disappointment when the dog is not a good addition to your family.  This will also help with the anxiety that the animal may face if they have to leave the comfort of your home.  They feel the sadness as you do and being removed from his|her surroundings may cause problems being readopted into a new home.
  5. Discuss the commitment to adopting a new family member.  Now that we are connected to the animal world better,  most of us understand the importance of good nutrition and that breeding practices have vastly improved, dogs are living longer sometimes upwards into their 18’s and 19’s, the discussion of commitment must come up.  The whole family needs to be on the same page and on board with a full commitment to the new family member.  I can not stress this enough.  Everyone must be on board.  Another important note, do not adopt during the holidays.  We have all seen that commerical where the puppy has a red bow around its neck and the family wakes up to that beautiful labrador retriever puppy and the world is perfect.  It’s something we all dream of, but it is not ideal or sustainable.  Recommendation: Wrap up some dog breed books along with a few toys and a certificate entitling you to one adorable puppy come spring or when you know the litter becomes available and then go together as a family to choose the perfect one.  This way you can guarantee the dog will be with the family until the end.

Proper Adoption Practices

Coco Chanel – adopted September 11, 2018 Chocolate Cocker Spaniel 8 weeks old

Now that we got the basics out of the way, there is a correct way to adopt a future family member, what to look for and red flags that will present themselves.  When you have adopted a few times, you begin to understand the process and what exactly is involved.    The first thing I want to mention is to take your time, I really mean to take your time.  Sometimes it cannot be avoided. If you want to rush the process, take a step back and a deep breath.  You cannot rush this at all.  Sometimes it takes weeks, months upwards to a year to locate the right one.    In order to adopt a healthy and sustainable puppy which will be part of your family for a long time, you need to be on the breeder list.  Especially if you have a specific need such as color or size you will have to get on the list. It is the only way you will be guaranteed an adoption.    This can be very challenging because you will be calling many that come up on your search and usually by the time you call them they are all spoken for.  This really only applies to very exceptional breeders, those that are known throughout the circles of what specific breed you are looking for.

When I began calling there were many that had plenty of puppies [these reviews were not the best]  and the good ones had all of the dogs spoken for.  I finally began asking if they know any breeders they recommend and through the process of asking questions, I located a breeder.  I call it “through the pipeline”, meaning that this breeder was referred one breeder back.  My breeder did not come up, but she was referred by another excellent one.    The woman that I began working with had a gentleman that was on her waiting list for over a year before he knew what color and size was going to be born.  The morning I contacted her the gentleman decided that he wanted a buff color and not a chocolate one.  The puppy was able to be adopted at that moment.  I gave her my credit card to put my deposit down for her.  Coco would have been adopted very quickly, but I knew what I wanted, the color, the sex of the animal and how big I wanted her to be.  What happened to me was very rare and will not always happen that way.   Of course, prior adoptions help in future adoptions.

Breeding List. Knowing how to approach the process is also very helpful and will cut down on how long it will take.  I knew that talking to breeders and discussing who they recommended is helpful when breeders have committed the litter to others.  if the litter is spoken for, and they know that they will have puppies that you are interested in, put a deposit down.  Tip:   Most breeders will keep your deposit even if you find another puppy with another breeder.  That is common practice and cannot be avoided.  It is usually posted on their website.  When I was searching for a puppy, a breeder of cockapoos offered to return my deposit if I found a cockapoo somewhere else.  I was very impressed with that.  Just understand that this is a business and though I find it a little sneaky, it is not against the rules.  It’s just how it is.


To you and your dog’s health



Puppy Mills |Endangering Innocent Animals

If you know me, there is one thing that I cannot stand and that is the overabundance of puppies.  This happens when “breeders” decide to breed their respective dogs frequently throughout the year.  An excellent sustainable breeder will only breed the female or Dam once a year and up to 3 times for the lifespan of the adult dog.  For years I have been quite upset and very vocal about the hazards of excessive breeding and the role it directly plays with unhealthy dogs, which can cost the future pet owner thousands of dollars in vet bills and the necessary euthanasia of the innocent pet.  This is one of the most difficult OpEds that I have had to write, because of the gross negligence of the owner, as well as anger for the future pet owner.

The Story

I also write this piece from personal experience.  Twelve years ago I adopted Coco Bean, a female Cockapoo.  I met the breeder at a doctors appointment and the only reason was that I had my little black Cockapoo with me at the appointment.  She thought Max was really exceptional and began to share that she raises exceptional Cockapoos.  She wrote down the name of her farm.   We set a time with to view the puppies but really didn’t know the benefits of asking questions back then.  Looking back on my experience, I have learned since then.   Remember, the most important questions come from researching experienced breeders.  This is very important because you can gather information about the breeder and their ethics or lack thereof.  I didn’t ask enough questions, questions such as “how many times do you breed the dam each year, how many puppies do you have at one time, how old was the dam when she was first bred, have you ordered the specific tests for the female, and when do you plan on retiring the Dam”? Also, can I see the Dam and Sire and do you socialize the puppies inside or outside?.  I add that only because socializing a dog will help with making sure the puppy is well balanced.  It also helps with separation anxiety.

We went to the farm and started looking at the puppies.  I was not very excited about any of them. Both of us thought the markings were not right. We noticed they were all outside in a little fenced in area.   I thought this was a bit odd as they were really young and didn’t have all of their protective measures required by state law.  After working with my current breeder I now think that is not appropriate to have them outside and I would rather adopt a puppy that is inside at that age.   There were a lot of puppies at this farm, which I thought was a red flag.  So many of them, they were everywhere.  We were getting ready to leave, her boyfriend and business partner brought to us a beautiful chocolate brown with blue eyes.  We both fell in love with her immediately. She was so docile and quiet, which now I know is a potential problem.   We chose a name at that very moment.  We decided right then that we were going to put a deposit down on her. The breeder put her away and while John was speaking to the other breeder I excused myself and went into the barn where there were a lot more babies and I found her, at the end of the barn on top of a pile of sawdust.  I could not believe it, nestled in a pile of sawdust.    I was shocked and I wanted to cry and take all of them home.  Joining the conversation in process the second breeder [who bred Coco] said that they did not dock the tail, remove the dew claws because their hired vet did not believe in doing these two and I might add very necessary things, especially the dew claws.   Looking back, I should have left and not adopted her, but she looked healthy enough.  Although I say this we are still glad she was a part of our family.  She changed our lives and had a huge impact on every person she met.  My personal feeling is that she and her other partner are nothing more than a puppy mill and unfortunately, they do a really good job at hiding that fact due to not having cage upon cage stacked on top of each other but lots of room for puppies to run.  Stacking the cages on top of each other does not constitute a puppy mill, but its the number of puppies that categorizes it as a puppy mill.

What makes a puppy mill a puppy mill?.  Well, Britannica Dictionary defines a puppy mill as the following:

Puppy mill

Sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a commercial dog breeding facility. There are an estimated 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S. that produce more than half a million puppies a year. Commercial kennels may be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and state and local jurisdictions which may inspect the kennels routinely.
30 puppies or more moves into the category of a puppy mill.  Just because the USDA is involved in monitoring these farms, doesn’t always mean it is humane and sustainable.  Because there are so many, and the fact they pop up very quickly and it becomes more difficult to monitor.  When it crosses the line of sustainability, meaning the number of puppy mills exceed the number of hired investigators to investigate each facility then things start to fall through the cracks.   Only then, you have problems.  After hours and hours and days and days of asking questions [remember, asking questions and doing your due diligence makes you smarter]  learning about breeds and things to look for within a breed.

Both the male and the female should be healthy, and should be at least two years old before breeding

Then there is this, Puppy Trafficking

Yes, you read that correctly, puppy trafficking.  Not only is the latter going on, but smuggling is another thing.  Both of these businesses are very lucrative.  I do want to specify that both are dangerous and disgusting.   I found a news article online posted by The Telegraph published online in Europe claims that the puppy trafficking industry is worth more than £100m’ and converting to US Dollars is approximately $128,034,825.47  which is an astounding number.  You can see it is a lucrative business at the mercy of the innocent animal.  Another disturbing fact is that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or  RSPCA warns that there could be up to 100 gangs operating “like drug cartels” breeding disease-ridden dogs for sale in the UK.   Bringing this into the United States holds a set of problems, not only is it a health hazard for humans by transmitting unknown diseases from animals to humans, but it also creates a problem for future breeding in our country, which can become elevated and deliver more sickness to our otherwise healthy animals.  We as a country need to stop this destructive practice and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.  It needs to be treated the same way we treat criminals in our country.  In my opinion, there is absolutely no place for this type of business.  It’s morally wrong and extremely inhumane.  


Change the way to adopt a family member

You are in control and can be the difference in continuing the practice of inhumane adoption.  We can be the ones to make sure this does not continue in the United States.  It is important to remember that adoption in the United States is the key.  There are plenty of beautiful puppies right here that need homes.  Establishing these guidelines will help these practices to become commonplace will ensure that humans adopting a pet will have the best experience possible.  We want the best for our pets.


To the health of your pet and yours









The Telegraph Dated Monday 29 October 2018 Puppy trafficking industry ‘worth more than £100m


Smart nutrition can save your pets life

I wrote an article about Kibble “fast food for pets”.  Being one of those conscious owners, some refer to me as the “Helicopter Mom” of the pet world, I continue to be against all processed foods and very determined to feed my 12 year old boy and new girl, Coco Chanel a raw food that I can get at my local store.  So, let me tell you the story of how I got to this point and necessity of writing this article.  To set up this story, it is necessary to understand how important food and nutrition is to our family and our two babies, Max and Coco Chanel our new family member.


Boutique diets are not as they seem.  Do your due diligence and make sure your dog is getting the proper nutrition based on your dogs breed

The Story

If you remember, I layed our beautiful chocolate Cockapoo Coco Bean to rest the week before memorial day.  It was a very bittersweet event and I still miss her to this day.  After much thought and discussion, we decided to adopt a chocolate Cocker Spaniel with the hope of having beautiful chocolate babies in the near future.  Looking back, we did a lot wrong with our first girl, down to the vaccinations she received along with a very conventional veterinarian.  Since Coco Beans diagnosis of diabetes, gaining two vets who are very holistic minded, we began to do everything correctly and was able to have her with us two years longer than anticipated.  So, with that being said, When I acquired Coco Chanel it was understood that her care would be drastically different all the way to the food we choose for her.

When I brought Coco Chanel to my vet [who I adore] we talked about the diet and how I wanted to immediately put her on the raw diet Max is currently on, she steered me to another food because she was only 8 weeks old.  I agreed but was really patiently waiting to move her from the puppy blend into a more natural brand.  The next weeks leading up to the 12-week mark, I was excited about transitioning her to the raw diet.  Twelve weeks arrived and I was excited to have her give the green light to go ahead and make the change.  We chatted about her weight, talked about her vaccination schedule and then we discussed diet.  She was adamant about forgoing the raw diet based on some new research about the boutique foods which included the diet my dogs have been on for the past two years.

Boutique diets are not what you think

When we talked about the diet, she mentioned there has been researching done showing food companies neglecting key ingredients that can make or break a dog, possibly forcing the owner to put their dog to rest.  “Grain-free”  is not always the best option for your pets, such as not adding “taurine” a key amino acid and is directly attributed to protecting the heart and eyes.  There are specific breeds that need that in their daily intake.  Without this very important amino acid,  these small dog breeds are vulnerable to serious health issues.  Breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, King Charles Cavalier, Bulldogs, are very susceptible to specific health concerns.

As I continued to read Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University and the http://www. it spoke about “grain-free-diets, big on marketing, small on truth”, I learned that although these big priced companies that promote grain free think they are doing the animal a favor, really are not.  The article also stated and I feel this is very important to notate: “Whole grains, rather than “fillers”, can contribute valuable nutrients including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and fiber to diets. Some grain products even provide protein that is easier for your pet to digest than some protein from meat.  Even refined grains such as white rice can be beneficial for health depending on the type of diet and the pet. The vast majority of dogs (and cats!) are very efficient (>90%) at digesting and utilizing nutrients from grains in amounts typically found in pet foods.

Allergies to grains, not so fast

It has also been mentioned that canines do not have the typical allergens to grains as humans do.  This is the other misnomer and hyperbolic argument that has swept the animal world.  In humans, it is the allergen culprit or Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO.  If dogs have any allergens it is due to the chicken or beef and not the grains.

This information is somewhat new and for many, it will probably be extremely unsettling as most of the serious pet owners want the best for their family members and almost feel taken advantage of by the various food companies that claim these “grain free” foods are the very best for your pet.  For most, it is all about the money.

Heart-Stopping Facts

What are the experts discovering with grain-free diets?. A very dangerous and damaging heart problem called Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM.  It is characterized by a distention and thinning out of the muscular walls of the heart, causing it to be a less effective pump to move blood throughout the body. As you might imagine, that’s not a good thing! Dogs with DCM are at great risk of progressing to heart failure.  Here is a portion of the explanation from Google.  The cause of DCM in dogs is largely unknown. Nutritional deficiencies of taurine or carnitine have been found to contribute to the incidence of DCM in certain breeds such as King Cavalier and Cocker Spaniels. Evidence also suggests that some breeds have a genetic susceptibility to the disease. In most breeds, male dogs are more susceptible to the disease than female dogs.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy Explained

DCM is a condition in which the chambers of your dog’s heart become dilated, or expand. The left ventricle of the heart is usually the most affected, though the disease can affect all four chambers of your dog’s heart. The disease can cause heart arrhythmias and murmurs. It can also cause leakage around the valves of the heart, leading to the build-up of fluids in the chest and abdominal cavities; when fluids build up around the heart, your dog is at risk for congestive heart failure.

Risk Factors for Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

Dilated cardiomyopathy is most common in the larger breeds of dog. Male dogs contract this disease more often than female dogs. Breeds prone to this disorder include:

  • Irish wolfhounds
  • Great Danes
  • Dalmatians
  • Portuguese water dogs
  • English and American Cocker Spaniels
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Newfoundlands
  • Saint Bernards

Most dogs develop this disease between four and ten years of age. DCM is a life-threatening disease with a high mortality rate.

In closing, I just want to say that if you have been feeding your pets a grain free diet and they are over four years old, have heard any unusual sounds in their breathing, behavioral changes or they have not had a yearly checkup, make an appointment to see your trusted doctor immediately.  If they are a really good vet following the integrative approach to health and wellness it is most likely that they will recommend a healthy grain diet.  Always remember to slowly introduce them to a new diet slowly so they have not adverse effects in the transition.


To your pets



If your dog is due for its next vaccination , read before scheduling

In this country, it is required that our children are vaccinated with a variety of different vaccinations |inncoulations right from the beginning before they leave the hospital.
It is no different for our pets. They are required to have what they need before they meet their new family. However, if you do your research you can control what is given to them before you take them home.

The story

When Coco Bean entered our lives it was a real awakening. She was sick from day one. She came to us with a parasitic infection that could be transferred to another puppy and did to my other one. So I treated both of them at the same time. It was a very intense infection, many trips outside and a very fluid stool.  It took many visits to the vet AND various medications to treat it. It was also exhausting from the standpoint that even though I didn’t get sleep due to her being a puppy, I really didn’t get any rest with this one.

You have choices | ask for what you want


I didn’t know exactly what vaccinations they gave her, the type | brand or what made up that required shot.  Breeders, as well as veterinarians, get volume pricing and credit for offering certain brand vaccinations and so, I am sure they go with the best pricing they can get.  Over the past twelve years, I have studied and researched these “needed vaccinations” and know exactly what to ASK for.  Excellent quality breeders that do not run “puppy mills, but wanting them to go to an exceptional home know what they do to the dog and so they are very careful.  The first one is the most important one given to the puppy.  It will help or hurt the vital organs and the damage will be done, irreversibly carried through their entire life. Basically, it will make or break the health of the pet.  We continued to do the routine labs, shots and treatment protocol not thinking too much about it and went about our daily lives.

Then the inevitable happened, when she turned ten, Coco Bean developed an irreversible disease that only allowed her to be with us an additional two years.  Despite the disease, those two years went very fast.  Upon diagnosis,  I left my vet, went home with her, hugged her, cried as I looked at her and decided to fight the illness by learning all I could about the disease.   Most importantly, give her the best life possible.  I went upstairs began to read all I could and started on a journey to become extremely knowledgeable on what story lurks behind this trend, what I could have done differently and what I am doing differently now.

Over medicating| Avoidable at any cost

Over the past two years, the biggest change that I made was the veterinary care they receive, the type and frequency of the vaccination that is required by law. I contacted my former clinic to have both dogs records sent to the new clinic that was going to help my little girl with managing her illness.  When I chose my new doctor, she recommended that we order the Titer Test. This is becoming a common practice, but not done enough. Only Integrative Clinics are ordering the test at this time and you must ask for it. The charge is nominal and they get it back in a few days.  It depends on the region you live in, in my case they send it to Kansas State. The beauty of this test is that it will show you if your pet still has an active vaccination in their system. In my case, if it checked positive we then applied for a waiver from the state to not vaccinate the next year. If it shows no protection, then we vaccinated again.

Note: This applies after the dog is over a year old.  They are required to have a rabies vaccination the next year.  After two years, the vaccination can be every three years.  Remember to ask for the Titer Test before the next scheduled appointment.

It’s your family member | ask for what you want

The next thing we did was make sure we administered a Thermerisol Free vaccination. In other words mercury-free product. Mercury is dangerous not only to humans but to animals as well. It compromises the immune system and can do damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart. Like humans, once the organs are damaged, adjustments need to be made to accommodate the injury, most time this means medication for the remaining life of the animal.  In Coco’s situation, she needed to have insulin administered twice a day, twelve hours apart.  It was a change that we adjusted to, and it helped her feel better and improved her life, if only for a short time. I can now report that due to new research and pet owners that truly care, most if not all clinics are offering Themerisol free vaccinations.

Changes to how things are done | its a positive first step

I mentioned a Thermerisol free vaccination, Titer Test and medication to extend her life.  These are things that have surfaced only in the past few years.  Veterinarians are now paying attention, and it is only because of the power of national veterinarians such as Dr. Karen Becker who have studied the holistic or alternative approach to a pet’s healthcare.  Because of her voice, many veterinarians across the country including yours have made a difference in care.  People are changing how they eat and do business with their doctors, and the same is for our pets.  We want the best for them.  Why would we feed our family members any different than we feed ourselves?   I have always said that if your veterinarian is not offering a cleaner vaccination or ordering the proper testing, and they still want to continue to do business the same way, then fire them immediately and find a sustainable doctor for your beloved family member.

In closing, I just adopted a beautiful Cocker Spaniel into our forever home and we will be doing things this way.  It is important to start a beautiful new life on the right path.  This ensures he or she will have the best life possible.  A healthy baby is a happy baby.  The best thing is years and years of outstanding health and a longer life.  Remember, when I applied these little basics to Coco Bean,  it allowed her to be with us two years longer than we thought.  That was the best gift we could get.



Kibble the “fast food” for pets

If you are surprised or shocked by the title of this article, read on.  I have suspected this practice for a very long time and decided to read, research and write about this topic.  The health and safety of my beloved pet family member is of the utmost importance and I think anyone who knows me and my relationship with my pet understands why I am so passionate about what my pets consume. I have a personal experience with processed pet food, so I know the effects that it has on their system. Through my articles, I compare the animal world to our world.  There are similarities between us that we are now just discovering and so it goes for corporations and pet food manufacturing. The good the bad and the ugly of it all.

The Story

So, you’re out walking your pet, you noticed that your pet is doing a lot more business than they should.  It’s a lot and you become concerned.  Unless they are suffering from a specific health issue like my Coco Bean, don’t be too concerned.  It has everything to do with their diet and their digestion.  

What do you mean their digestion.  Most people will respond with “My dog is perfectly healthy, the doctor said so at the last yearly exam”.  That may be true, for now,  but most conventional veterinarians will always recommend a brand that they know is universally recognized.  Most likely they have an agreement with the company that they should carry it in their clinic.   It is usually overprocessed and the vet will confidently tell you that the dog or cat is perfectly healthy on this diet, and most of the time someone can find this right on the clinic shelf, pay for it and bring it home with them.   Not only is it very expensive, but it will also be highly processed full of fat, carbs, gluten, sugar, and grains.  Most vets glaze over these ingredients and don’t really focus on the pros and cons of the food they are prescribing.  And by the way, these “Prescription Diets” are nothing more than a typical brand that you can find at your local pet store but because it has the label “Prescription” the cost is considerably inflated and you are paying extra for that word.   Your pet may not exhibit signs of problems, right now, but maybe years later, like my little girl. Some of the issues that are of concern are diabetes, pancreatitis, liver disease, kidney disease, skin problems, sort of like humans eating a highly processed diet. The same goes for our companions as well.  


Knowing who owns what and the players involved will show you exactly how much they have invested in the health of your pet. I have always gone by the guidelines that the more a company is connected to a larger company the less attentive they are to the ingredients and the health of your companion. 

It is my personal feeling it is similar to our culture that when we are not at our optimum health we rely on our doctors and pharmaceutical companies to make it better, to improve our lives.  The same goes for the animal world.   If we are all healthy, we would have no need for doctors or medication.  They want us sick,  so we rely on the pharmaceutical companies to fix the problem and over the years it has become a billion dollar industry.  We call our typical diet the SAD diet, the acronym for Standard American Diet.  Its true, we have a diet in this country that is very unhealthy, and yes, sometimes people don’t exhibit signs of problems right away, but given time, if a person has a weak and compromised system, they will eventually hit the brick wall as I like to say.  It is no different in the animal world.  Diet is just as important to them as it is to us, they could have a compromised system and we need to take a very serious look at how to treat the problem.

If you are confused, don’t be.  It is very simple, dogs and cats are carnivorous or carnivores, meat eaters not vegetarians.  This means they do not need grains, legumes such as soybeans nor do they need beet sugars.  Animals are never to have sugar, their systems do not process these the same as we do, and in reality, we shouldn’t be eating excess amounts of sugar either. With regards to digestion, cornmeal, sugars, soy meal these are ingredients that a dog simply cannot digest.  They are foreign to the dog’s system.  It was never intended for humans to eat these things every day so why should it be different for dogs and cats. Why should we be treating them any differently?   


Prescription food versus over the shelf food at your local store

Next time you visit your vet for that yearly appointment or seeing the doctor for something else,  take a moment to look at the bag of food, or “Kibble”.  What is the very first ingredient that you see?.  Its probably some sort of meal such as cornmeal, chicken meal, barley, corn gluten meal, powdered cellulose, wheat gluten, tapioca, dried beet pulp, chicken fat, soy meal and have animal by-products as second or third ingredients. There are brands that are typically sold at every veterinarian office.  Most clinics I have contacted carry the same company, which means that this particular company has cornered the market.   Over the shelf food outside of the clinic carries a larger variety of kibble that is similar to what the vet carries, but they also carry more of a holistic line of food.  I happen to like the raw kibble with little to no processing. One product freeze-dries their line as well.  It preserves the integrity of the product.  The ingredients I look for are Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Heart, Beef Tripe, Beef Bone, no sugars as well as the following,  Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Sodium Phosphate Monobasic, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Apples, Organic Blueberries, etc..  These ingredients are a very excellent balance to the diet that dogs and cats need. When you have the organ meats as the main ingredients you will be delivering natural amino acids, specific building blocks for the protection of your pet eyes, joints and major organs such as the heart and liver.  

Watch for big corporations owning  smaller companies

Ask the question: Is the company where my money is going being subsidized by the larger corporations that are funding them.  Did you know,  big corporations own the smaller companies that produce food because they can’t make it on their own.  It happens in the human world and it happens in the animal world as well.  One company I researched has a blend for every type of breed available.  Forty different types of breeds do not need forty different blends made just for them.  In my opinion, the list is a little overkill.  Become an expert in pet food labels as you are with your food labeling.  It should be no different for them as it is for us.  For instance, Royal Canin is not owned by Royal Canin, it is owned by Mars, Incorporated.   Mars should not be in the pet food business.  Knowing who owns what and the players involved will show you exactly how much they have invested in the health of your pet. I have always gone by the guidelines that the more a company is connected to a larger company the less attentive they are to the ingredients and the health of your companion.  

Expensive or Cheap

We’ve touched on big corporations, kibble and health issues of processed foods and how it affects the longevity of your pet.  Another way of looking at the quality of the food rests in the cost or value of the food given to your companion.  Usually, the more expensive AAFCO approved food is the better it is.  Good clean products have good clean ingredients and usually when you find a local company that produces it, you know you are getting something really good and nutritious for them.

Sustainability and balance within the food source

If the company in question produces candy bars, chips, cereal, etc. and then produces pet food, you should rethink where you are investing your money.  The company I buy from is organic, sustainable, and produced locally.  I didn’t always subscribe to this, I used to think that just because it didn’t have by-products it was alright.  I was buying a local product, but for my little ones there was too much fat and not enough protein, for us it was a game changer because it became too much for the pancreas to handle and she developed Diabetes Mellitus and after meeting with my vet, she explained that weight plays a role in her health and survival. So, when you are looking at what food would be best for your pet, look for local and not owned by the big corporations. Make sure it is truly balanced, meaning the correct amounts of protein, carbs [yes, carbs are healthy] fruits, complex sugars [excellent for storing energy] 



  •  Become a label expert.  Research the company you are putting your trust in.  
  • Watch out for the big corporations. Some of them have no business being in the pet food business
  • Price does matter.  Your family members health depends on it

If your Pets Health doesn’t align with your health, It might be time to reassess your pets doctor

We all have a doctor that we love, the caring bedside manner, the approach our doctor gives to our specialized treatment options and most of all we love the connection and the way he|she lays out the future of our healthcare.  Why should it be any different for our pets?  In our family the doctor has an integrative approach, meaning it is both a balance of conventional and organic, giving our family the best of both worlds.  We love this approach because our doctor understands that the conventional approach alone may not be working.  So, why should it be any different for our pets, which are such a big part of our lives, they are considered family members, or so we tell everyone.

The Story

In our family, health is front and center, we do everything in our power to make sure we are healthy, give our bodies the best nutrition and care we can.  So, again why should it be any different for our pets, our beloved family members.  I’ll tell you one thing because our family has changed, our pet’s healthcare has changed as well.  It wasn’t gradual, it happened twelve years

Dog Parks | healthy option for your pet?


I happen to live in a city that has a dog park.  For the past ten years, I have driven past the park but never stopped.  The reason is the voice in my head saying “ dog parks are dangerous to bring your pet to”, so I never stopped Recently, the topic has come up and so I decided to visit the park and find out for myself if it is a bad idea or a healthy option.

As I talked to several pet owners ages ranging from twenty-five years of age and all the way up to couples

Healthy Teeth Cleaning | Its all in the brush

Raising a dog is like raising a human, there is no manual on exactly how to do it.  As we find with both, there is plenty of how to’s on the internet.  We also rely on our veterinarian to guide us with their health and wellness knowledge so our pets or sometimes referred to as “our children” have a great start to their new life.  

However, there are times when this does not happen and important things are not addressed until too late.  Brushing your pet’s teeth is as important as healthy vaccinations and good nutrition.  This needs to happen when they start getting their teeth and not ten years after they are born.  You are probably thinking, “come on, this is not important, my pets teeth are a little yellow but I don’ think its that bad” or, “dogs always have bad breath, so it doesn’t mean that they have dental problems?”.  

The Story

Thinking back to the life of my little girl I was a lot like you, I didn’t brush her teeth.  It didn’t seem necessary and there was never a discussion with her former veterinarian and in my opinion, having a deep cleaning is quite expensive because it is a very risky procedure, there is detailed preparation and observations that go into cleaning their teeth.  A good doctor will order blood work a few days ahead of the appointment to make sure that they are stable enough to be sedated.  For instance, my little Max was on the calendar to have his teeth cleaned, we did the necessary testing to make sure he was strong enough to have the procedure done.  A few days later my vet called and said that “she was not comfortable doing the procedure based on some abnormal things showing up in his bloodwork”.  When we talked about the abnormalities it was decided between us that we would postpone the procedure until the numbers got better,  by the way, that’s a trait of a very good vet. 

The danger of not brushing your pet’s teeth

  Things to know:

  • At the early the age of 2, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of periodontal disease
  • The untreated periodontal disease is painful to your pet, puts stress on his immune system and increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes
  • In addition to a species-appropriate diet and plaque-removing bones, regular brushing can help to keep your pet’s teeth clean and minimize dental issues
  • If your pet is new to brushing, start gradually by touching your pet’s muzzle, then moving onto the lips, gums and teeth; use your finger first, then gauze, then a finger brush and finally a pet toothbrush


Many pets really enjoy having their gums lightly massaged when they’re relaxing. The key is not to force it, move at a pace that keeps your pet feeling comfortable and relaxed

As soon as you bring your new family member home, begin to desensitize your dog mouth.  When you begin this practice, your pet will think it is part of his or her routine and will be receptive to the practice.  When you start young, it will be second nature and a part of both the owner and pet’s daily routine.  Please keep in mind that in the early stages of a puppy’s life, and just like a human toddler,  their mouth will be sensitive and sore due to losing their baby teeth, so keep this in mind as you work with them. Gently massaging their mouth and gums, will not only have them get used to it, it helps soothe their uncertainty.  

It’s important to incorporate face massage (and mouth desensitization) into regular massage/petting time. This will put your pet into a relaxed state of mind, rather than your pet being suspicious you’re up to something by suddenly trying to manipulate their mouth. Doing this throughout the crucial months of their life will help in many aspects of their life

After your pet is comfortable having her head, ears and chin touched, move on to touch his muzzle, then his lips. Many pets really enjoy having their gums lightly massaged when they’re relaxing. The key is not to force it, move at a pace that keeps your pet feeling comfortable and relaxed.  If you can, dip your finger into bone broth.   After your pet is cool with having her head, ears and chin touched, move on to touch their muzzle, then their lips. Many pets really enjoy having their gums lightly massaged when they’re relaxing. The key is not to force it, move at a pace that keeps your pet feeling comfortable and relaxed

Heart Disease 

One of the health issues directly related to not brushing your pet’s teeth is heart disease.  Just like humans, when we neglect our own dental hygiene, the risk is very high for us as well.  Studies have shown that bacteria that accumulates in their mouth as it does in ours.   As stated by Dr. René Carlson, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):


“Untreated periodontal infections often lead to more serious health problems because of chronic pain and infection, and subsequent stress on the immune system … These untreated conditions can then lead to heart valve disease, kidney disease and even diabetes and cancer, not to mention the significant    discomfort associated with dental infections.”

What we can do as responsible pet owners 


As I said earlier, I never brushed Coco Beans teeth or MaxMillions teeth.  Coco’s got so bad that the roots were showing and had to be surgically removed. The two teeth removed were right next to the nasal passage, a very dangerous and risky procedure.    Max’s teeth were also in bad shape and a few had to be removed as well.  When I started brushing their teeth, I did it every day and then when I began to see the dramatic changes, I moved to every other day.  I brush Max’s in the evening after his last meal and give him a treat promptly after.  After 6 months, he actually looks forward to it and besides rewarding him with a treat, I always verbally reward him.  

  • Begin a good dental routine when you bring them home.  The earlier you begin, the more receptive they will be and probably will look forward to brushing.  I always reward them by giv
    ing a treat.
  • Recommendations for keeping your pet’s mouth healthy include daily home care, feeding a species-appropriate raw diet, offering raw bones to gnaw on, performing regular home inspections of the oral cavity, and arranging for routine exams performed by your veterinarian.
  • Every year, make sure you have their vitals checked by doing bloodwork.  This will ensure that you understand everything about your pet’s health, wellness, and their safety.  It also will show anything that is abnormal and then you and your vet can design a protocol to bring them back to the normal range.   Just like humans, doing this at a very early age creates a baseline to compare as they grow and develop.  

I recommend using an enzymatic tooth solution designed for pets. Enzymatic gels help to break down the plaque and tartar that accumulates on the surface of teeth. Put a dab on your finger 

and very briefly massage it into your pet’s back molars.

Next, try a dab on a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. Once your pet is comfortable with you rubbing gauze on his teeth and gums, you can move on to using a finger brush and finally onto a pet toothbrush.

Introducing this into your daily routine, not only will benefit them, but it will help create a sense of trust between you and your pet.  Having that human and animal connection is something that we all strive to achieve.  Protecting our pets and making sure they are happy and healthy is something we all plan to do in our lives.  When I bring my new family member home in a few weeks, I will be adopting this into my daily routine, something I didn’t do with my first two.  Isn’t it always the same in the human world,  with our first child we didn’t know anything, but by our second and third child, we know more, we are smarter and we do things differently.  It is the same in the animal world.  We better ourselves by the second or third pet.  We promise ourselves that we will do everything in our power to get it right.

By the way, when Max and I began our dental routine, his teeth were stained and he was having trouble chewing his food.  After about six months to a year, his teeth are as white as can be and can chew without difficulty.   My vet couldn’t believe the change in his health and eating habits.  Having a good product is also vital to their health.  A word of caution, do not use human grade toothpaste.  Fluoride is toxic to animals.  The product I use is Virbec Enzymatic Toothpaste, Vanilla and Mint.  A good Integrative vet will carry  this product and it is not expensive.  


To your happy and healthy pet




References: Things to know, perilous to your pet’s wellbeing-yet widely ignored. November 25, 2016. Healthy Pet’s by Mercola.  

                                                                                              Dr. Rene Carlson, president of the AVMA, discussing chronic pain connected to bad hygiene in pets.