September 30, 2013

Many horses are needin' help

by @winecountrydog Tilin Corgi

Soon cold weathers and big rains and winds will come, and the horses will still be standing out there in the fields ... with no shelter or blankets ... with no feed, just acres of mud. They are the thousands of neglected, abused, and unwanted horses in today's American West.

Mywoofself has always loved tall neighing furriends. Since puppyhood, myself has met many rescued horses in California and Oregon.

It is good to be gettin' to know some of da most needy horses. It is comfortin' to learn about caring humans who rescue the horses or collect hay bank money to feed them.

Pawleeze document and report horse neglect, abuse, or starvation when you see it! You can contact a rescue organization for advice on how to do this properly. Also ask county sheriff's department and animal control the best way to get help for the horse who's in trouble.

Here are some good folks to know about:

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank
provides feed grants + emergency hay

Oregon Hay Bank
helps horses in Oregon + Northern California

Safe Haven Horse Rescue
horse rescue in Northern California

California Coastal Horse Rescue
horse rescue in Central California

Neigh Savers
California’s Thoroughbred Rehab/Rehoming

Equamore Horse Sanctuary
horse rescue + sanctuary in Oregon

Mustang Meg
Wild Mustang advocacy in SE Oregon

Buck Brannaman
natural horsemanship training
("starting" colts, not breaking them.)

August 31, 2013

Ani Meezer's Anchovy Dressing

by Ani Meezer, Kitteh Queen of the kitchen

Anchovy? Oh my cat!

Do not furget to call me if you have anchovies!

Seems it is time to tell you how to make a lovely AV Dressing: Mediterranean-inspired Anchovy Vinaigrette Dressing for salads. Mymewself will narrate for Mum.

Aye do see Mum has placed dressing ingredients on kitchen counter.

1/4 cup EVOO
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 anchovy, chopped finely
S+P to taste (Careful with salt! Anchovy is already salty.)

Mum is using "what's on hand" and making only small batch of dressing to test how well ingredients go together. If Mum does not like the brands of extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, she will seek other choices.

A few paw-notes about olive oil, vinegar, anchovies, and garlic.

In California, cooks are accustomed to finding fresh extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). You might prefurr a mild oil, like good old Bertolli. But whatever oil you like, you want good quality and freshness. . . . You know stale or rancid oils and fats are bad for human and pet health. (Kibble eaters, take paw-note.)

It should be easy for humans to find fresh organic wine vinegar in gourmet stores. It is not difficult for wine grapes and other fruits to turn to vinegar -- that is Nature's neat recycling trick. But it is not easy to find good wine vinegars. Mum needs to find a wine vinegar that's as great as her fave cider vinegar, Solana Gold, made with Sonoma County apples.

Anchovies are tiny fish of many diffurrent species that live in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. Foodwise they are called an "oily fish." Mum finds them canned, packed in salt or in olive oil, usually including their little bones -- which we kittehs and some people eat along with the fish. (If packed in salt, brush all the salt off and store them in olive oil.) The typical brands seen in U.S. stores are marked "Product of Morocco." Are they high quality? Mum doubts it.

Mymewself finds anchovies purrfectly nommy. This is why, whenever Mum turns her back, the anchovy disappears, and so Mum has to get another one out of the can. ...

Do not let mymewself steal another anchovy before you get it in the jar. MOL

Appawrently some human cooks fear these itty bitty fish. Or purrhaps they just fear strong flavors? ... Fear not! A little bit of anchovy adds a "uniquely satisfying" flavor note to a salad vinaigrette or pasta sauce.

As for garlic from most supermarkets, it is blech. Often it is elephant garlic, and it has been in cold storage for about 1,000 years. Mum likes to use fresh garlic from a farmers' markets or food co-op. Garlic can be very mild and tasty, ourselves are told, though we cats and dogs do not eat garlic (or onions).

Put your dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid that seals well, so you can shake to mix. Mum is using a recycled pint-size Mason jar. If Mum wants a stronger-flavored dressing, she will play with these proportions, adding more to the jar until the mixture suits her. Then she will triple or quadruple the batch, and store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.

Try this dressing on any fave green salad! And experiment with using it as a dressing for steamed or raw veggies!

Before you put the dressing on your salad, we hope you share some greens or veggies with your dog and cat companions.

Remember not to feed garlicky foods to us cats and dogs. A few licks are not toxic to most of us, but a larger amount of garlic is toxic to a pet's system.

Mum says: "Thank you, Joyce Goldstein! ... No cookbook inspires me more than your classic, The Mediterranean Kitchen."

July 31, 2013

Vacay Pawt II: Barkday Brambleberry Banana Split

by @winecountrydog Jackie Nippers Corgi

Wot did you doo on your summer vacay? ... Did you nom frozen desserts?

On mywoofself's barkday, Staff (aka Mum) served Brambleberry Banana Split. Organic blackberry ice cream with organic banana slices and sprinkles of probiotics.

Our Ani Meezer loves blackberry ice cream too. Hermewself does not eat ta banana.

Ourwoofselves are not only ones eating ice cream in July -- "National Ice Cream Month." Ta ice cream biz is over $10 billion a year in the States. Mostly industrial farm dairies, not humane dairy farms where cows are treated like special, honored furriends.

Blackberries get high rating as antioxidant and have got other health-confurrin' properties as well. Smart wild furriends such as foxes, coyotes, deer, and birds love nomming ripe wild berry fruits in season. Humans like picking berries from wild bramble bushes or buying 'em at markets wot sell local organic berries. If your Staffs like to pick berries, tell 'em to avoid bushes by roadsides. Tis not good to eat berries wot have been sprayed with agrochemicals or berries wot have absorbed pollutants from motor vehicles on roadways.

A bowl of homemade real blackberry ice cream is a wonderfur treat. Dependin' on howl much dairy food you are allowed to nom, you could enjoy ta blackberries in ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sherbet. Or if no dairy at all, have ta sorbet or fresh berry ice treat made in blender.

Sometimes our Staff serves frozen dessert wot is homemade. Sometimes not. Staff likes wild blackberries on pre-made organic vanilla ice cream. On myself's barkday, Staff got organic blackberry ice cream. Howly berry! No icky synthetic stabilizers or preservatives!

Ta furry idea of ourwoofselves and Meezer eating dairy or sugar does upset some pet owners and vets. Not to worry, pawleeze. Our bodies doo fine with bit of organic dairy foods. Our weights are normal. Our digestive systems are strong 'cuz our daily homemade diet is fresh whole foods. Ourselves doo not have problems with ta allergies or ta insulin or lipid metabolism or hyperlipidemia.

Ourwoofselves (not Meezer) doo eat fruits a few times a month -- more often in summertime -- with no ill effects from ta fruit sugars. Ourwoofselves and Meezer get food treats wot have refined cane sugar only a few times a year. You doo know occasional bowl of organic real ice cream with sugar is better 'n most pet snacks. There is nothing healthful 'bout "treats" like pet jerky or many of ta other packaged snacks. Furriends, you be better off eatin' tablespoon of organic ice cream! Our woofly ancestors 'ave been eating ice cream since ta first British ice cream recipe twere published by Mrs. Mary Eales in 1718.

Tis fine for healthy, normal-weight dog or cat to have high-calorie, high-dairy-fat treat like organic ice cream once in ta while. Howlever, ourselves not suggesting ice cream for furriends who are overweight or insulin-troubled or who have got skin problems, candidiasis, or ta chronic unidentified digestive problem.

Doo ask your Staffs to give you only homemade or organic brands wot contain no synthetic or artificial ingredients. Make double-doggone sure is ice cream sweetened with organic cane sugar, fruit, or honey. And ask Staffs to add some good probiotics such as ta Pet Dophilus.

Ta caveats:
~ Doo not serve ice cream to pets with history of dairy intolerance. Non-dairy sorbet and fruit ices would be good alternatives. ...
~ Doo not confuse berry types: Raspberries, red and black, or even blueberries or strawberries would be OK substitutes. But elderberries are toxic to cats. ...
~ Doo not ever feed xylitol-sweetened frozen desserts to pets! Xylitol, an artificial sweetener common in many foods, is extremely toxic to dogs and cats.

Tis helpful for Staffs to talk to vets whose pet feeding experience includes diets that go "beyond can and kibble." Also, Staffs can learn a lot 'bout wot foods agree or doo not agree by observation: Watch a dog's or cat's behavior for a period of time after he eats diffurrent foods. Reactions to foods should not cause lethargy, hyperactiveness, urgency to doo the doo or to pee, and certainly not diarrhea.

- - - - - - - - - -
Comments from Mum:
Buying pre-made ice cream? Ice cream is a subject that involves much discussion about food politics and food technology. The ice cream learning curve, in terms of how it's made and the range of ingredients that can be used, is rather steep -- an icy, slippery slope, if you will.

When you've got to choose a commercial ice cream, stick with brands containing only the following ingredients:
  • Organic milk and cream;
  • Cage-free egg yolks as primary emulsifiers;
  • Organic cane sugar, honey, or real fruit sweeteners;
  • "Natural flavors" from extracts or essential oils of fruits, vegetables, or other plants; 
  • "Naturally-derived" emulsifiers and stabilizers (citric acid, guar gum, gum from carob or locust beans, tapioca starch, pectin, soy lecithin, xanthan gum).
Some of the ice cream stabilizing and emulsifying ingredients are added in very small amounts. Does this make them all safe for people or pets? Maybe not. After reading about the emulsifier carrageenan in research cited by Dr. Weil, I decided to avoid ice creams and other foods that contain it.

Generally, the imported gums and other extracts are neither organic nor fair trade. When they're used in a certified USDA “Organic” food product, they cannot make up more than 5% of the total ingredients, and also they must appear as "Allowed" on the USDA-approved “National List" -- as substances that can't be sourced organically but are "needed" in food processing.

I like making most of our frozen desserts from scratch. But I'd like to find a commercial ice cream with 100% organic, fair trade stabilizing ingredients. If you know of one, please let us know the brand!

July 16, 2013

Vacay Pawt 1: Wine, microbrews, SOLA lavender + farm-to-bowl noms

by Tilin Corgi @winecountrydog

Mid-July summer 2013 travels -- Hotter 'n a dog on a grrrrill. Just as worryin' for us dogs who gotta watch out for wildland fires ... 'specially in da Siskiyou mountains areas where we doo travel furrequently.

Howlever, dogspite da high temps and wildfire worries, ourwoofselves + Ani Meezer dooin' wonderfur back-country vacay. Ourselves + Meezer luv road travel 'cuz Mum does stop along da way for fresh foods -- pastured humane meats and organic veggies and fruits from farmers markets. Meezer knows there is nothin' nommier for a carnivore than farm-to-bowl raw bisons and beefs.

'Ere you doo see mywoofself, right, chillin' with furbro in a roadside garden.

If yourself's chauffurr is thinkin' about driving up Highway 101 north all da way past Crescent City, California, then your chauffurr best stop in Illinois Valley ... 'cuz there be one arfully interestin' winery there. Mum sez "The viticulture of the Rogue Valley region is very interesting. They're producing better and better wines, especially the Viognier, Tempranillo, and Merlot."

Soon after wine tastings, there was LOTTA LATTE LUV for chauffurr (aka Mum). BOL

Anywhere not be wine country these daze?? Da wine grapes are growin' effurrywhere. You be ridin' down some mountain valley road far outs in da countryside, and suddenly da ranches and farms turn into vineyards like this one on Humbug Creek.

Yourself likes lavender? Then you will like da annual So OR lavender festival. Mum did 'ave her nose workin' offurrtime smellin' many different cultivars of L. angustifolia and lavandin.

Ourselves rode out to Goodwin Creek Gardens -- a furry famous and knowledgeable lavender grower! Mum so happy to visit their gardens. Mum has done lotta researches and writing about da species and cultivars of Lavandula, and also da medicinal applications.

At Goodwin Creek, da lavenders are furragnant. And da family members of all generations are fun. They are savvy 'bout herbs, farm-fresh foods, craft beers, and so much more!

Yourself likes organic local veggies or meats for supper? Yourself likes craft beer on tap? Then yourself likes da little restos and cafes in da middle 'o nowhere wot got freshest local foods and regional microbrews! Mum enjoyed big dinner + microbrews. Ourwoofselves got wee sippies 'o Walkabout pale ale.

Some 'o da rural fresh-food + brew cafes got da live musics and local-tourney pool tables too. Not your granddogdaddy's dive bars. BOL ...

(Ourwoofselves doo keep some 'o these pawlaces on "the QT" ... meanin' that ourselves doo not woof 'bout ALL da pawlaces where ourselves hang out. Soundin' snobby? Howl no. Jus' like to travel indognito sometimes. BOL)

Wot a crazzzy fun long day. Hotter 'n howl. But ourwoofselves did lotta cool water-soaked bandanas and ... awww ... da coolin' paws in ice waters. 

End 'o day on da trail. Ride back to camp.

Paw-script: In high-risk wildfire areas in summertime, ourwoofselves doo always travel with emergency evacuation readiness supplies, includin' lotta water and alternate-route maps. Pawleeze, furriends, doo not count on internets or simple road exits in da fire-pawrone back country eh.

June 29, 2013

Élégie pour le chat moderne

by Ani Meezer, un grand fromage du WCD house

Très triste, la vie du chat moderne.
Apparaissant comme une forme flat, seulement un équivalent.
La vie dans une photo de Minor White.
Comme un tableu abstraite du Motherwell, sans color field.

Très triste, la vie du chat moderne.
Abandonnée au cours de la season de kitten.
La vie sans famille, sans pride, sans le kitteh clique.
Comme un eunuque dans un pays très cruel.

Très triste, la vie du chat moderne.
Enfermé dans la maison. Trapped.
La vie sans le cuisine français, sans les fresh noms.
Comme un worker de burger king sans pommes frites.

Pawscript: Vraiment que Henri, Le Chat Noir, did sell hismewself to multinational industrial ag food spawnsor? O très triste que Henri est compromisis seulement pour l'argent.

April 30, 2013

If ourwoofselves paw-wrote wills ...

by @winecountrydog Tilin Corgi and Jackie Nippers Corgi

Wot a lovely idea for beloved dogs like ourwoofselves, both lucky rescue dogs, to leave behind best wishes for other dogs and cats who need lovin' homes.

A Dog's Last Will & Testament
Before humans die, they write their last will and testament, give their home and all they have to those they leave behind.

If, with my paws, I could do the same, this is what I'd ask.

To a poor and lonely stray, I'd give my my happy home, my bowl and cozy bed, soft pillow, and all my toys; the lap that I have loved so much; the hand that stroked my fur; and the sweet voice that spoke my name.

I'd will to a sad, scared shelter dog the place I had in my human's loving heart, of which there seemed no bounds.

So, when I die, please do not say, 'I will never have a pet again, for the loss and pain is more than I can stand.'

Instead go find an unloved dog [or cat], one whose life has held no joy or hope, and give my place to him.

This is the only thing I can give . . . The love I left behind.
Written by Anonymous Dog and posted at

Ere is wot Mum sez, quotin' from a poem:

"We'll shelter him with tenderness and love him while we may,
and for the happiness we'll know, forever grateful stay.
And when the angels call for him, we'll brave the bitter grief,
but know that deep within our hearts he will only feel relief."

Sunset walkies on Sonoma Coast beach.

March 31, 2013

You gotta love your vet, part two

by winecountrydog Tilin Corgi, with Mum

After last month's piece "You gotta LOVE your veterinarian," mywoofself and Mum got comments and questions.

'Ere are three topics wot Mum (aka winecountrydogma) talks about:

1. SIT, STAY! BE YOUR PET'S ADVOCATE. -- People ask me if I would "just drop off a pet at the vet and come back later." My answer is "It depends on the circumstances. I rarely leave a pet. I stay. And I usually watch."

Of course it makes a difference to have an established relationship with a good vet -- "love your vet"! I know and trust my primary vet, and my dogs love her, plus she's an excellent cat doctor, and her staff are conscientious. When one of my pets has to stay there, it's usually fine with me.

In general, aside from times when an ill pet should not be moved, I would not leave a pet at a clinic unless
  • an IV drip is needed and I can't easily do it at home;
  • the animal is in surgery, or in pre- or post-op;
  • some type of mandatory quarantine is required;
  • the animal is recovering from anesthesia or resting after a procedure;
  • skilled nursing care or consistent prolonged observation in a hospital setting is required.
Regarding nursing care/overnight care services, caveat emptor. I will not (ever again!) leave a sick animal for so-called nursing care at a vet clinic I'm not completely familiar with.

You know it would be unusual, and unwise, for a parent just to drop off a human child at a medical clinic or hospital and then simply leave. Similarly, it's not the best practice to drop your pet off at the pet doc. The safest practice is to stay with the pet during the exam or minor procedure. In your absence, have a trustworthy stand-in advocate (with a signed permission form from you) stay there for your pet.

A pet owner/pet-patient advocate should always be there if the vet is new to the pet, or if the illness is serious, "challenging," or "mysterious." This includes possible pet poisoning cases. It's important to be there not only to answer the vet's questions and to get to know the vet, but also to observe the vet's approach and make sure you're comfortable with it. 

Should a pet owner/guardian stay to watch everything? It's a good idea to watch physical exams and minor procedures, including blood draws, shots, and ultrasound exams. Watching what our vets do teaches us things that make us better carers and medical advocates for our pets. And when we take our pets for yearly or semi-annual wellness exams, we get an opportunity to learn even more about their health needs.

Should you stay to watch surgery? Maybe. I'm the kind of person who likes to watch everything. Some vets don't mind if (calm) clients watch surgeries. I've watched a spay surgery and other procedures. However, I'd think twice about watching a major or traumatic surgery on any of my loved ones, animal or human, because it can take a big emotional toll, sapping energy better reserved for post-op patient care.

Whenever I stay in the exam room with my dog or cat, I'm there to be helpful, not to get in the way of the vet and staff. I'm there to answer questions the vet has about my pet as best as I can. I'm there to calm my pet, and to guide vet and staff past pet idiosyncracies -- for example, to distract my nervous pet; to let staff know that my pet can't stand on a metal exam table; or to muzzle my sweet but nippy dog when he's had enough. Moreover, I'm there as my pet's advocate -- to be a good observer, question asker, and decision-maker.

Sometimes I'll help hold my pet during an exam or minor procedure. At other times this offer is refused. (It can be a clinic liability if a client is injured on the premises.) One time I had to help hold one of my rescued cats on his first vet visit. Poor guy. He was such a sweet Maine Coon, but he surprised everyone by being exceptionally strong as well as "freaked out." It took myself and three vet staff members to get him into a restraint bag and keep him positioned for a blood draw.

I always leave the exam room when x-rays are being taken or when the room is too crowded for optimal execution of an urgent procedure.

I do not leave if I "get the feeling" that I need to be there. It's my client prerogative to stay with my pet during an exam or minor procedure, and a good vet recognizes why a good client feels this way. I usually sense when my trusted vets need me to step back, and they know that they can tell me when they need me to step back without worrying about hurting my feelings. 

Again, I'm not there to get in the vet's way. I'm there to be the best healthcare decision-maker I can be for my beloved dog or cat.

If you've never thought about staying and watching, or about getting more involved in understanding your pet's healthcare needs, I hope you'll give this some thought. Every pet needs his/her guardian to be a good medical advocate. 

As veterinarian Nancy Kay explains in Speaking for Spot, her book about helping your dog live a "happy, healthy, longer life" . . .
"Gone are the days when you simply followed your vet's orders and asked few, if any, questions. The vet is now a member of your dog's health-care team, and you get to be the team captain! Your job description has evolved from receiving and following doctor's orders to processing and making decisions. . . . What are the chances that you'll never be called upon to act for your dog in a medical situation? Probably the same as winning the lottery."

As you can see by Tilin Corgi's expression (in above pic), it's important for us pet carers to acknowledge that "sooner or later," as Dr Kay says, almost every one of us will have to make difficult medical decisions. We might as well sit-stay, watch, and learn whenever we can.

2. AVOID VETS WHO UNDERCHARGE. -- It's great to find a vet whose fees are reasonable, meaning that the fees are within the range of the area's "going rate." But what about when a vet's fees are below the going rate? One of my veterinarians pointed out to me that "vets who undercharge are just as suspect as those that overcharge (maybe more so). Think about it -- would you trust your life to the cheapest surgeon in town? I wouldn't!"

Well, I wouldn't either! So it's good advice to avoid vets who undercharge.

I made the mistake a few years back of going to a "cheap" vet clinic for x-rays. What a nightmare. Blurry x-rays and misdiagnosis. I've recently learned that this "affordable" clinic, located in Santa Rosa, CA, is still in existence and has become notorious for its bad care.

What's a good way, then, to judge reasonable vet fees? Call around and ask different clinics what they charge for various services to get an idea of the going rate. Some clinics won't quote fees over the phone, so it's worthwhile to go around and talk with them in person.

If you live in NYC or other major urban area where the cost of doing business is high, you'll find that vet fees are typically high too. Maybe it's worth a drive to a suburban clinic for routine exams? Just a thought.

3. KEEP LOOKING TILL YOU FIND DR. WONDERFUL. -- "Where can I find a good vet?" As we said in the previous post, "everyone deserves a Doctor Wonderful."

If only it were possible to tell whether vets are good vets from finding out what they charge. If you're looking at fees for major surgery or extensive treatment, consider not only the fees for services but also the experience, educational credentials, and successful track record of the vet. This applies regardless of whether the vet uses allopathic (conventional) or non-conventional ("natural" or "traditional") modalities.

To find the vets in your area who are said to be the best at what they do, go beyond Yelp and other online ratings. Call area animal rescue organizations, breeders, groomers, and "upscale" pet supply stores to see which vets are their favorites.

If you're looking for a veterinary specialist, you'll find that searching online turns up board-certified vets (for example, in the U.S., internists listed on ACVIM, and ophthalmologists on ACVO) and vets with other types of practices, such as "holistic" vets listed on AHVMA. But also ask your regional veterinary teaching hospital and local vets for specialist recommendations and referrals.

Be sure to ask vets in your area whom they refer out to for special cases -- for example, for orthopedic surgery, oncology, Class IV laser therapy, herbal medicine, or acupuncture. Also ask local vets whom they'd recommend for allied healthcare services -- such as ortho rehab, swim therapy, or behavioral modification. In any case, try to get more than one name, even if some of the practitioners are a distance away.

Finally, as someone who researches health topics and makes my pets' food, I add this thought: When seeking good vet care, consider that many health conditions are prevented or helped by dietary change, either as the primary or adjunct treatment. In other words, there are few health conditions that are not improved with the right diet. "Food is medicine." . . . Sometimes, of course, it can be useful temporarily to use medical foods, and in cases such as prolonged anorexia, necessary to use parenteral nutrition; otherwise, the best diet is a fresh (organic) whole food diet. Unfortunately, not many vets are recommending foods other than commercial canned and kibble brands. So I'm always looking to add to my list of "Doctors Wonderful" those vets whose practice includes a focus on fresh whole food pet diets.

Let's all keep growing our lists of "Doctors Wonderful" and spreading the word about good vet care!

February 28, 2013

You gotta LOVE your veterinarian

by winecountrydog Tilin Corgi, with Mum

Furriends, doo you LOVE your vet? Doo you give your vet big paw hugs every Valentine's Day?

Ourwoofselves always get excited to see our primary vet. She is somebuddy special who
  • gives us fresh food noms when we have an appointment;
  • handles us gently whilst examinin' us all over with grrreat focus;
  • supports our homemade diet lifestyle with lots of info;
  • talks to Mum about wellness strategies, 'specially fresh foods and smart supplements;
  • looks for alternatives to symptom-management pharma drugs;
  • knows many "gentle interventions" (like acupuncture, Class IV laser, diet change);
  • is open to "second opinion" consultations and will offer referrals;
  • encourages pet wellness exams for disease prevention and early detection.
Are you feelin' da love for your vet yet? . . . If not, furhaps you and your human carer/owner should be lookin' to meet other vets.

Woof to da wise from myself (left) and Jackie Nippers: Doo not stop lookin' till you find "Dr. Wonderful."

In her book Speaking for Spot, which helps human carers be good advocates for dog health, veterinary internist specialist Dr. Nancy Kay talks about "finding Dr. Wonderful":
"Dog people tend to believe -- at least initially -- that all veterinarians are wonderful! . . . Interestingly, people seem to be far less skeptical of their veterinarian's capabilities and intentions than they are of their own physician's. Speaking as a vet, I wish we all deserved such extraordinary benefit of the doubt, but this just isn't the case. . . ."

And 'ere is wot Mum (aka winecountrydogma) sez:

"I'm surprised by the number of people who say 'I don't like our vet' or 'We try not to go to him unless we absolutely have to.' I'm even more surprised when they tell me they keep going back. I'd rather not patronize vets who don't inspire confidence, who can't communicate clearly or keep a clean clinic, or who charge unreasonable fees.

Over the years, I've been a 'patient advocate' -- someone who helps make medical decisions for friends and family -- on behalf of both human and animal patients, often in life-threatening or end-of-life situations. Early on I learned how much a patient's care quality, and often the outcome of the case, depends on not only the skills and insights of the medical practitioner but also on the quality of communication between the practitioner and the patient or advocate.

"We shouldn't have blind trust or be passive healthcare consumers. Trust has to be earned, right? It's built on consistent, clear communication, and solidified by good outcomes. As vet clients, we've got to talk to vets. We've got to be accurate about providing pet health info and to be up-front if we're unable to follow through with certain treatments because of financial or other constraints. We should be voicing our concerns, asking questions, and asking for resources to learn more about health conditions. And then, in return, I believe we have a right to expect vets to listen and respond thoroughly.

"Unfortunately, I learned about several bad vets the hard way. (For example, there was the PennHIP-certified vet in Santa Rosa who misdiagnosed my dog's signs of vertebral disc disease as a knee problem. The next vet who examined the dog saw no knee problem.) So I'm telling you from experience, it's important not to bestow trust by default. Please don't go along with a new-to-you vet's diagnosis or treatment plan of a serious pet illness, or allow that vet to do a serious procedure or initiate a harsh drug prescription, without getting a second opinion.

"It's worth it to find a vet you'll adore -- not because the vet is a charmer, but because of the vet's skill, experience, talent, open-mindedness, and genuine curiosity and caring. Everyone deserves a Dr. Wonderful. When you find a vet who seems wonderful, build that relationship by taking your dog or cat in for a semi-annual or yearly wellness exam. And if Dr. Wonderful doesn't practice nearby, make the drive! You can still go to a vet closer to home for very minor or routine issues.

"On the flip side, I've seen some pet owners who expect too much from pet doctors. How can any general practice veterinarian cover all the bases? She or he simply can't. So let's not set up a veterinarian to 'play God' and then demonize the entire veterinary profession when the vet fails to be omniscient.

"I'm very grateful for good veterinarians. They work hard at what they do, they put up with a lot from 'difficult' clients, and they witness a fair amount of horror while doing it. Have you ever thought about the horror that vets see? It's one thing to see ill pets, it's another to see animals morbidly obese, injured, emaciated, or even tortured due to neglect, ignorance, or abuse. Somehow the good vets continue on, conscientiously helping. I give my heartfelt thanks to them.

"I'm always interested in hearing about good vets in my region -- including places I travel to -- and I also like finding out about vets doing integrative medicine and research around the world. A regional list should include 'second opinion' vets and good vet ER clinics. I'm forever asking around about well-liked vets at pet supply stores, dog parks, groomers, and rescue orgs. 

I'll continue to grow my list of "Doctors Wonderful." On it are a gifted orthopedic surgeon and some general practice vets who provide integrative care, including wellness through fresh food diets and education about preventive healthcare strategies."

Paw-note: If you have got Dr. Kay's book Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy Healthy Longer Life, you doo know why ourwoofselves call it essential fur today's dog owner. . . . Ourselves still sad that Dr. Kay left our area, but furriends in the Carolinas of Southeastern U.S. must be arfully happy to have her services.

January 31, 2013

Egg-citing new year

by winecountrydog Tilin Corgi and Jackie Nippers

Looking furward to new year of walkies and fresh foods from farmers' markets and food co-ops!

Ourselves love neffurr-ending variety of fresh whole local and regional foods. Tis healthful diet. Furrmly based on certain principles. One principle for a meat eater is to have calcium source. If not, da meat, high in phosphorus -- includin' da steaks and other muscle and organ meats we dogs and cats luv to nom -- will leach calcium from bones and teeth of our pawsonal systems.

Our fave vet sez, "All meats are higher in phosphorus than calcium, but organ meats are proportionately higher in phosphorus than muscle meats. Unless raw bones are part of a meat meal, you need to adjust the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio by adding a calcium source."

Da lack of calcium and other minerals is one reason that pawpular "cooked chicken and rice" is not good doggie diet. Lacking bone minerals. Pawleeze take calcium supplement at least. 

One of pawrimary sources of calcium in our diet is eggshell. Ourselves can digest whole pieces of shell from fresh local cage-free eggs. Some of you get ground eggshell with meals? We doo know many staff use instructions in good book by veterinarian Dr Pitcairn, saying to wash, dry, and grind eggshell.

Our staff (aka Mum) sez, "I don't want to add the task of grinding eggshells to my kitchen routine. I make my companions' meals every day, and I'd lose my mind if I didn't keep pet food preparation fast and simple. But I would turn to grinding eggshells if one of my animals lost the ability to digest fresh shell pieces."

Furtunately ourwoofselves and our Meezer kitty doo have super strong digestion. We love nomming eggshell pieces. Meezer will leap onto kitchen counter and nick eggshells if Mum not looking. BOL

Our furriend Palette Corgi gets to eat whole egg! Howl egg-citing! Wot a wonderfur game herself gets to play, bitin' on shell and lickin' out da insides and rollin' da egg around on plastic mat. 

Palette sez "Here is me eating whole egg. See? I love egg and I eat egg shell too! Nom,nom,nom..."

Palette Corgi is one of few furriends we know who doo eat amazing variety of fresh foods.

In olden day, before mid-20th century 'splosion of processed pet food industry, dogs and cats did eat almost all parts of prey animals, cooked or raw, and also nommed scraps of humans' foods. Palette Corgi is lucky to have staff (herself's name is Yassy) who does know about diffurrent foods. Palette noms some foods that most modern dogs neffurr even get to sniff: fur example, chicken feet and tripe. Nommy!

Our staff is not so thrilled about tripe. BOL

Tripe or no tripe, Mum is longtime health researcher who did learn how to promote good health and strong digestion. You might notice Mum is always watching us ... seeing not only wot goes in but also wot comes out other end. BOL

Impawtant: Doo not assume that you can digest whole eggshell or big shell pieces. If your digestive system is used to handling only processed foods (kibbled or canned), you will likely need to build up digestive vigor first, before nomming da big shell pieces. 

Enjoy your new year. Hope your life is filled with walkies and fresh foods from your local and regional humane farmers.

Paw-note: Dr Pitcairn's book, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, is 'stremely useful for dog and cat owners. Howlever Mum, who is furry knowledgeable about complementary and "natural" medicine, does not follow Dr Pitcairn into homeopathy. ... To each her own modalities eh.

Calcium caveat from winecountrydogma for dog and cat owners:
A fresh whole food diet for dogs or cats includes several ways to provide calcium and other minerals with meals. However, there are risks involved with excessive calcium supplementation, particularly for puppies and young dogs, and especially for growing large-breed and giant-breed dogs and pregnant bitches, and also for dogs or cats with certain health conditions. Regardless of the type of diet you feed, homemade or commercial, please don't simply add a daily calcium supplement without first determining a safe level of calcium intake for that dog or cat. Ask your veterinarian to help you calculate the amount of calcium you can give, and how to provide it in a good calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.