I’m sure it would come as no shock to anyone that knows me well that as a kid my favorite movies were The Black Stallion, National Velvet, and Dr. Doolittle (the 1967 version with Rex Harrison, not the stupid remake with Eddie Murphy). These movies all have a common theme of some sort of unusual empathy with animals, and as an animal lover who was born with horse fever and who wanted to be a vet/jockey when she grew up, these 3 movies were The Dream. When my friends would all talk about what kind of superpower they’d have where they a Super Hero, of course mine wasn’t being super strong or having mind control. I wanted to be able to talk to animals (with flying being my Super Hero second choice).
My years as an eventer let me experience flying, but other than having a natural empathy towards animals, I’ve only been able to “talk” to them via an understanding of their body language/instincts and by responding to them accordingly. But the idea of “What If?”, that someone could talk and understand animals (and have them understand us back) has always been at the top of my imagination. It’s that dream that I wish so badly were true that I’m most inclined to put aside scientific logic for. Now, I’m not going to say that I think that all animal psychics are real (or any psychic for that matter) or that animals can understand human language to most of its complexities (i.e., they understand us as well as two adults understand each other). But I will say that I don’t know that all of them are fake. I think that just because we can’t explain it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The same goes for a lot of “unexplained” phenomena, like ghosts and angels and personal intuition.
But if a medical professional is going to try to sell me on a lesser-scientific method of treating my animals, I expect some backing for it. For one, I don’t like the idea of stabbing my animals with needles unless there’s some proof that it will help. Same goes for feeding my dogs “natural” substances instead of standardized medicines b/c “Chemicals are bad! Natural is good!” Marijuana is entirely natural, as is the chemical testosterone, but I don’t want excesses of these in my body just because it “might” help. I want you to show me twenty-seven people it DID help and then I’ll think about it.
About twice a year, Sam still goes back to the rehab clinic that helped her after her elbow surgery (before I got her). A few months ago, the main vet suggested that Sam was “running hot.”
Me: “You mean she has a fever?”
Vet: “No, her energy. See how her tongue is so red?”
Me: “But isn’t her tongue supposed to be red?”
Vet: “It’s supposed to be pink. Hers is more brick red.”
Me: “If I say it looks more crimson to me, are you going to kick me out?”
She didn’t kick me out, but instead explained to me some basics of Chinese medicine, using terminology like “hot,” “cool,” “neutral” and talking about how these can describe a dog’s “energy.” And I nodded my head politely and kept waiting for some kind of context to come into the discussion that might explain why I should care about this hippie language.
And then she said something that caught my attention. When I asked how she knows a “hot” dog vs. a “cool” one, she listed some characteristics that Sam has. Among other things: random licking of the paws, extremely lethargic, noticeably more active in winter/loves snow, restless sleeper, runny eyes (year-round, not just during allergy season), chronic tartar on teeth/bad breath, etc.. Of course, she acknowledged, most of those symptoms by themselves are usually caused by other stuff—licking of paws could be boredom, allergies, dietary issues; runny eyes could also be allergies; bad breath could be a systemic infection, etc. But she said all those together kind of lean towards an indication that changing the diet might help. So I decided to have a chat with my local vet about the pros/cons of a diet change, from a “holistic” perspective. (I just realized I’ve been putting “holistic” in quotes and I’m not quite sure why. It just feels right. Even though it’s probably b/c I’m not totally on board with ALL of the ideas that are considered “holistic,” I’m going to tell you it’s b/c I’m quote happy. And since it’s my “blog,” I’ll do whatever I “like” with the “quotes” I want.)
So Sam had her first holistic appointment yesterday, which threw in a “free” acupuncture session as well. And since I like to torture my pets as much as I can get away with, I was all for making my shepherd look like a porcupine. Sam took it like a champ, actually falling asleep for some of it (which astounded me, b/c if you stick needles into MY elbows and hips, I’m going to rip your hands off and stick them in your ears—this just proves that Sam’s much nicer than I am). She only got fussy when Dr. Verna stuck a few needles in between her toes, and she showed her displeasure by whining once and burying her head in my lap. Like a little kid who hides behind Mom’s legs because “if I can’t see the monster, they’re not there.” And I rubbed her ears and told the vet, “Stick her again!” because I’m cruel.
We had some talk about diet, enough that I’m going to try to switch her to a non-grain-based diet, specifically a brand called Taste of the Wild, and see how she responds. But the whole appointment was mostly about the acupuncture, which, like I said, I was ok with. But when the vet “lay hands” on Sam (by actually hovering her hands over Sam’s problem elbow that makes her limp a little) my Skeptic switch kicked on.
Me: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Oh…..what’s that?”
Vet: “I’m using the energy in my hands to heal her elbow.”
Vet: “Sometimes this is when animals choose to talk to me, and they tell me where it hurts so that I know what spot to address.”
Me: “And, uh, how did you learn how to do it?”
Vet: “It kinda came to me one afternoon. When it did, I didn’t know what was going on with me, and I had to take two days off to recover. But now, I can usually read when they send something to me directly.”
Me: “I see……Is Sam sending anything?”
Vet: “Not really.”
Vet: “What was that?”
Me: “I said this time slot was really convenient. I like 6:30 vet appointments.”
Dr. Verna praised Sam for being so sweet-tempered during the acupuncture, and I was all, “That’s b/c I beat her a lot. It took a bit, but she now knows her place.”
Dr. Verna paused for a moment, and then, in a wry voice, goes, “Yeah, Sam says your humor was hard to get used to, at first. But she understands now.” And I had no idea what the proper response to that was. On one hand, if you buy the whole Dr. Doolittle stuff, that would be a pretty appropriate statement for Sam to make. She would not be the first person to make that same comment to me. But on the other hand, the logical part of the brain was like, “Seriously? Doggie-mind meld? WTF did I pay for, and how do I get out of this room without one of those acupuncture needles in my eye?” So I was struck a bit dumb for a moment—do I accept it, despite how quacky it might sound, or reject the idea to her face, which would probably insult her, thus ruining the good relationship we have which I don’t want to do b/c I really like her as a vet?
So I chose the safe route—deflection—and was like, “Yeah? She said that? Well did she also tell you that she poo-papered my office the other day, too? Bet she left that part out, didn’t she? Yeah, TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME, MISSY!”
The vet was both amused and not amused. Sam just yawned, like I bored her, and in that moment I could almost believe that she “spoke” to the vet and understood everything I just said. Because she doesn’t let me get away with stuff at all. The bitch sees right through my act.
But regardless of how much mind communication the vet may or may not have had with my dog, I’m not lying when I tell you that Sam trotted out of that office limp-free. No joke. That tell-tale, little half-hitch she had on her right foreleg—gone. And I’m definitely a fan of acupuncture b/c I’ve seen it work before. I saw a gelding at my barn in TN whose back was all wonky after a new farrier effed up his feet. And the acupuncturist came out and explained to me the science part of acupuncture and how what the Chinese called “energies” and “chakras” could actually be traced to specific nerve clusters in the body that, when stimulated, produced X-chemical that affected Y-organ. She was really informative and I never once got the hokey-hippie vibe off her. And when she hit one particular spot on his elbow, I saw Giraffe’s head drop and he let out a gigantic sigh, like “Oh thank GOD! That feels so much better!” When she removed the needles and I trotted him up the aisle, he was perfectly sound, which was super cool to see.
So I’m all for acupuncture to help heal stuff. We’ll see if it holds and I’ll be getting her new all-natural food today. Will keep you updated on her progress. Do any of you Most Highly Respected Anonymous Readers feed raw or all-natural diets, and what changes did you notice in your pets after they got used to it? Did it clear up any behavioral or physical issues?