Imperfectly Perfect Pets

Natural Therapies Transform Lives



De Jongh Photography/Shutterstock.com

Pets, like humans, can face physical and mental challenges. Today’s fresh approaches help pets replace disabilities with abilities and lead fuller, happier lives.
 

Physical Adaptations

Zach, a rescued cat, welcomes foster pets to Paw Prints in the Sand Animal Rescue, in Newport Beach, California, teaching kittens cleanliness, and good manners to dogs. “We can’t imagine life without him,” says Monica Sederholm, co-founder of the organization. A congenital condition causing irregular bone growth in his shoulder blades, fused bones and a missing kneecap hasn’t stopped him. Muscle pain keeps him from retracting his claws, but daily massages help him relax.

Although Zach remains mobile, walking is difficult or sometimes impossible when an animal is missing a limb or paralyzed. Designed for specific disabilities and fitted for size, a wheelchair cart provides freedom most cats and dogs embrace. Rescue volunteers and adoptive parents must keep clutter off the floors, supervise and remove the cart to allow for comfortable naps.

Gwen Cooper, author of Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat and the Curl Up with a Cat Tale series, adopted Homer, a blind kitten from Miami. “Never having sight, he wasn’t afraid to take risks,” she explains. “He climbed, explored and played with our other cats.” When a move to Manhattan, New York, presented a scary prospect for Cooper, Homer inspired her, saying, “Homer didn’t let fear of the unknown trip him up. He taught me the relationships you’re sure you don’t want can be the most meaningful.”

“Dottie CrazyPants, a rescued Harlequin Great Dane with severe skin and ear infections and a dysfunctional immune system, had no quality of life until I tried holistic treatments,” says Lara Katz, executive director of the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center, in Mebane. Dottie didn’t gain weight, even though she ate a lot and drank gallons of water a day, resulting in indoor accidents. “A raw food diet resolved many health and housebreaking issues.”

Discontinuing regular medications left Dottie miserable and nearly unable to walk. “A massage therapist said her energy centers were blocked,” Katz says. “After an energy medicine treatment, Dottie slept through the night for the first time in months. Her paws looked better short term.”

A combination of holistic treatments including cold laser and red-light therapy, Chinese herbs, an anti-yeast protocol and probiotics works best. Katz also uses only eco-friendly cleaning and laundry products.

“Certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Dottie’s visits take a bit of management because of the types of cleaning products used in nursing homes. It’s worth it. She’s completely changed my lifestyle regarding how many toxins we’re exposed to daily.”

Emotional Relief

Tracy Krulik, a certified canine separation anxiety trainer in northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area, is a graduate of Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers. “Using videoconferencing, I can watch my client’s dogs at home, see when panic starts and create daily training plans to keep them safely calm.”

Feldenkrais practitioner and author of Grow Young with Your Dog: Learn How You and Your Canine Companion Can Feel Better at Any Age! Mary Debono, of Encinitas, California, sees a variety of pets. “I invited an Arabian named Easy to be the demo horse during a class I taught,” she recalls. “Sore all over, he couldn’t lift his feet high enough to step over a pole lying on the ground.” Easy showed dramatic improvement through Feldenkrais, which focuses on improved function, rebooting the body by interrupting the cycle of pain and tension, so that the patient realizes change is possible.

Debono also treated a rabbit that didn’t like to be touched. “I used the eraser end of a pencil through an opening in his crate. Non-habitual touch gets the attention of the nervous system; areas of tension are sore, so gentle lifts provide relief.” Without pain, movement is easier and behavior improves.

Lesson Learned

Sandy Johnson, former actress and author of The Pet Healer Project and Miracle Dogs: Adventures on Wheels, in Los Angeles, was in recovery from Stage 4 kidney cancer when she adopted Charley, a Brussels Griffon. “Her singlemindedness taught me my greatest lesson about the body’s ability to heal,” she says.

Animals show less concern about blindness, a bum knee or even the need for a wheelchair than humans do. People that live with special needs animals are quick to say the benefits far outweigh the cost. When we’re open to the possibilities, such pets offer lessons in living life to the fullest.


Connect with freelance writer Sandra Murphy at StLouisFreelanceWriter@mindspring.com.

 

Inspired Services and Stories

Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.comEducational Resources

• Video of Feldenkrais practitioner Mary Debono working with a cattle dog

• Help for rescuing blind, deaf and wheelchair dogs and cats

Equipment for special needs pets

• Answers to questions about animal wheelchairs, from a no-kill-shelter advocacy group courtesy of BestFriends.org

Special Pet Journeys

Beaux Tox, a Labrador with a smooshed face, loves his transformed life

• Starfish, the dog, learned to walk and run after a rough start

Pumpkin, a dwarf mini-pony, not only walked, but ran after receiving custom braces


This article appears in the August 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Gardening for Kids

Give kids a patch of dirt and a trowel, and they’ll not only have fun but can find a fresh new appetite for fruit and vegetables.

Toxic Legacy

Women in growing numbers are joining together to deal with the long-term, serious health threats posed by saline and silicone implants.

Plants Talk

Plants may not be raising an audible ruckus, but scientists are finding they communicate silently with each other through smells, hearing and underground networks.

Receive Deep Insights into Buddhism

Presented by the Theosophical Society, renowned Buddhist Monk Ajahn Brahm will present Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond from 7 to 9:30 p.m., June 19, at the College of DuPage, in Glen Ellyn.

Dancing Prevents Senior Decline

Elderly Japanese women who danced for exercise were 73 percent less likely to be impaired eight years later doing “activities of daily living” such as walking, cooking, dressing and bathing.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Time to Adopt A Great Lakes Beach

Join volunteers from around the region in the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ annual Adopt-a-Beach Spring Kickoff to remove winter debris and record findings.

Energy Leadership Workshop

Rev. Jacki Belile, founder of Clear Center Coaching, will host Live and Lead from Your Core, an interactive orientation to Energy Leadership from 7 to 9 p.m., December 12. Energy Leadership is the transformative framework which helps clients to understand and choose to shift their energy levels

Deane Offering Anti-Aging Treatments

Eunice Deane, DC, is now offering a range of healthy aging solutions at her Chicago office for clients of all ages, including laser therapy treatments and BioCell formulas for anti-aging, pain relief and recovery.

World Fair Trade Day Celebrated with Market at Daley Plaza

Chicago Fair Trade and conscious consumers worldwide will celebrate World Fair Trade Day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 6 and 7, with a festival and outdoor market at Daley Plaza.

Peterson Garden Project 30 Days of Doing Seeks Volunteers

Peterson Garden Project is seeking sponsors, partners and participants to support 30 Days of Doing, an action campaign to be held between October 15 and November 15 to build new, pop-up victory gardens, harvest existing gardens, donate to food and nutrition partners, learn about how food gardening and home cooking education makes a difference in people’s lives and raise funds for scholarships and Grow2Give food donation program for 2017.

Awakening Journeys Debuts Travel Adventures of Self-Discovery

Friends and readers of Natural Awakenings can enjoy several opportunities for self-discovery and adventure, beginning in fall 2012.