Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven

If you've ever felt bereft and heartbroken after the death of a cherished animal companion, Sonya Fitzpatrick's latest book, There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven, is for you.

Based on her actual consultations with people whose pets have passed into spirit, Sonya's stories are tinged more with compassion and hope than with sadness.  Like many communicators, she talks telepathically with animals in spirit, and because she recounts their thoughts with uncommon clarity and respect, we eagerly believe every word she says.

Many of her clients come to her wracked with guilt and regret, blaming themselves for what they perceive is their animal's untimely death.  We have all been in that tortured place.  To them, and to us, Sonya offers comfort:

"People think they need to apologize when they lose an animal.  But. . .animals love their humans no matter what, and there's never any need to apologize. . .Even when an animal's death seems premature, it has come for a reason, at the proper time for the soul that is leaving its body.  It's we who are left saying, 'He died too soon,' but for the one who is crossing over, it is never too soon."

On the subject of reincarnation, Sonya wisely counsels her clients that she can't always tell them whether their animals will come back, or when.  Sometimes, she can only say that "they will be with you in this lifetime."  Or not.

In Sonya's experience, there are many ways in which an animal can reincarnate; when they do, they don't always come to stay.  She describes a phenomenon whereby an animal's spirit appears to go in and out of another animal's body.  Or, it will inhabit the body of another animal it knew well in life:

"Many times, when there is a death of the physical form, animals will use one of the dogs they have lived with to experience living in the physical form again.  When that happens, you'll see many similarities between the dog that has passed over and the one that is still living."

In her work with grieving clients and callers to her weekly radio show, Sonya Fitzpatrick comes from a place of love and kindness.  She wants to soothe--not to shock--and she does so without sticky sentimentality.  She preaches a message that we all desperately want to hear:

"What I want everyone to know is that our animals are always happy in the spirit world.  It's a place where there is no sadness, no loneliness, no fear.  And they don't have to miss us because they remain with us even when they are no longer in their physical bodies."

Like Sonya Fitzpatrick, I have been privileged to connect with animals in their "energy bodies," and I can attest that what she speaks of is real and true.  Still, I felt a lot better after I read There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven, and I think you will, too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: A Healer in Every Home: Dog & Cat Edition

If you buy one book on animal health this season, let it be A Healer in Every Home:  Dog and Cat Edition.  You won't regret it.

This little volume on the wonders of homeopathy and natural remedies will open doors and possibilities to help you not only preserve the health of your animals, but to treat them safely and effectively when veterinary help isn't immediately available.  From their perspectives as a certified classical homeopath, holistic veterinarian, and shelter director, authors Begabati LennihanDr. Margo Roman, and Shirley Moore have packed A Healer in Every Home with practical tips to help you manage dozens of common crises without resorting to drugs or despair.

I was midway through the book when my recently adopted dog, the rascally cocker spaniel, Bobby, got into a bag of cat food and unbeknownst to me, apparently ate about half of it.  Without going into too many graphic details, I'll just say that torrents of vomit and diarrhea ensued, and the over-the-counter treatments and probiotics I was administering seemed woefully inadequate to stem the tide.

But then I happened upon the section of the book that discusses what the remedy Arsenicum can do, referencing its ability to quell diarrhea.  As it happened, I'd gotten a basic homeopathy kit from Dr. Roman a few years ago, and fortunately for me and for Bobby, it contained a vial of Arsenicum pellets.  I mixed four of them in some spring water and gave the solution to Bobby, in two doses. As if by magic, the diarrhea disappeared and Bobby's gastrointestinal tract returned to a quiet, normal state with no further incidents.  It made me a believer.

And chances are, you will be, too.  Do you have a dog with itchy skin that nothing seems to soothe? The authors recommend the remedy Sulphur, at the 6c (low potency) dose.  For kennel cough, Save A Dog founder Shirley Moore uses grapefruit seed extract, which also prevents and cures giardia.  When her shelter dogs are whimpering from the loss of their former people, Shirley gives them a dose of the remedy Ignatia, with good results.  For puppies and kittens who are taken away from their mothers too soon, Pulsatilla (30c) is the remedy to try.

What makes this book so valuable is that it doesn't get overly bogged down in theory, but consistently presents actual case studies of real animals who were in physical or emotional pain, but who were then helped by homeopathics, supplements, and/or complementary therapies.  My only complaint is that A Healer in Every Home: Dog and Cat Edition doesn't have an index.  But that's just a small quibble. I'll say unequivocally that if you share your life with animals, it belongs on your bookshelf.

A Healer in Every Home: Dog and Cat Edition co-author Shirley Moore will be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming Conference on Complementary Animal Healing in November.  Her presentation, "Using Homeopathy to Heal Your Dog's Body and Spirit" will be on Sunday, November 11th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Reiki for Dogs

When one of our animals is hurting, be it due to a physical ailment or emotional pain, we want to help.  We want to heal.  We desperately want to do something to ease the distress.

In Kathleen Prasad's wonderfully insightful book, Reiki for Dogs:  Using Spiritual Energy to Heal and Vitalize Man's Best Friend, we are humbled to discover that in truth, though we can offer the gift of spiritual energy to our dogs, it is up to them to accept it. And hardest of all, perhaps, is to set aside our own egos, and honor each dog's decision to participate in healing, or not, even though we may anxiously wish to fix or cure his problem.  It's not up to us; it's up to him.

That can be a difficult message for us humans, who are so used to being in control.  When it comes to Reiki, or other forms of spiritual energy that can flow through us, we can best serve our dogs by allowing what will be, to be.  But that doesn't mean that we are powerless to help an animal in his hour of need, whether that is to support him through a health crisis, release fears from former trauma or abuse, relieve sadness and depression, or be fully present with him in the days or months or moments before his last breath.  If we know how to work with Reiki, we can be a conduit for this universal energy to flow to our animals where it's needed, creating a perfect sense of balance and peace and harmony.

But as Kathleen explains, Reiki "is not something you give to someone else."  Rather:

    "Those of us who use the system of Reiki are called 'practitioners,' not 'healers,' since we do not manipulate the energy or healing of others.  Through our compassionate intention, we simply open more deeply to the universal flow of energy, creating an 'energetic space of healing,' and in so doing, facilitate the healing process of others.  Reiki can do no harm and is supportive of all other healing modalities and therapies, both allopathic and holistic."

While Reiki practitioners who work with people usually do so by putting their hands in prescribed positions on their client's body, those techniques may not always be effective or appropriate with dogs.  After offering thousands of treatments to dogs and other animals over a period of many years, Kathleen has learned that they may not always welcome such direct, hands-on contact, and may even shun it by literally walking away.
Dogs, in particular, "are more 'tuned in' to the energetic realm," she says, and are so sensitive that they may find hands-on Reiki to be overpowering.  Her advice to Reiki practitioners who want to work with dogs is to be quiet, calm, and nonthreatening.  "It's our job," Kathleen explains, "to hold a space of lightness and peace in our minds.  In this space, the dog is more likely to relax and open to an energetic connection."

Reiki for Dogs is about much more than Reiki.  Based on her own experiences, Kathleen writes movingly about how we can open our hearts and minds to connect with our dogs on a level we may never have imagined.  She offers a series of meditations and exercises to enhance our ability to do so, and to release our attachment to a particular outcome.  If we can learn to do that, Kathleen says, "we also find it easier to be open to the possibility that our dogs may be helping us just as much as we are helping them."

Animal Reiki expert Kathleen Prasad is making a rare visit from California to the Boston area to be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming Conference on Complementary Animal Healing in November.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: The Animal Healer

Elizabeth Whiter didn't know she was a healer until her beloved Danish-bred gelding, Wow, was critically injured, in danger of losing his life.  He'd broken his neck in three places after leaping into a swimming pool, and the best advice vets could offer was:  euthanize him.

But instead of doing that, the heartbroken Ms. Whiter went to the barn and caringly put her hands on Wow, gently but deliberately stroking him, yet not really understanding why.

     "Instinctively, I was drawn to the areas of his body that needed my touch.  I felt incredibly relaxed, yet my attention was solely on Wow. . .My feet were like magnets, pulling me into the ground, and I felt a sense of calmness and strength throughout the whole of my body. . .I noticed that Wow was breathing to my rhythm; it was as if we were synchronized.  It was an extraordinary, harmonious moment.  A silence enveloped the stable and a feeling far greater than happiness swept over my body.

     "Wow seemed to be getting comfort from me, and, as I whispered to him, he began to relax and sigh.  I had never done anything like this before with him.  It just felt right.  I knew nothing about healing--in fact, at that time, I didn't even know what the term meant--but I loved my horse so much that I couldn't bear the thought of having to put him down.  I would have done anything to help him."

That experience was the epiphany that launched Whiter into a career in which she has offered healing to thousands of animals, and taught hundreds of other people how to do it, too.  Her horse, Wow, recovered, and lived happily and fully for many more years.

In The Animal Healer, Elizabeth Whiter, who is based in the UK, tells the story of her personal evolution as an animal healer, one who uses not only hands-on techniques but also, essential and macerated oils, to restore her patients to health.  What she discovered is that healing flows from the healer's "conscious intention," and from her heart.  Whiter stresses that meditation is the key to cultivating the focus necessary to effectively direct energy healing to others, be they animal or human.

But she goes a step further, offering stricken animals the opportunity to self-select essential oils and natural remedies that will bring them back into physical and emotional balance, a technique pioneered by Caroline Ingraham, and known as "zoopharmacognosy."

Whiter's devotion to her animal patients is palpable, and they respond in ways that are often both unimaginable and unpredictable, sometimes defying logical expectations.  The miracles come both from her energy work, as she consciously creates an "ocean of peace" for her healing sessions, and from her detailed knowledge of which oils and macerates are likely to soothe her clients.  She sees hundreds of animals each year, both in her private practice and as a "spiritual warrior" who tends to the needs of scarred dogs, cats, horses, and donkeys in rescue sanctuaries throughout the world, treating them not with sympathy or sadness, but with pure love.

Ultimately, The Animal Healer is the story of Elizabeth Whiter's voyage of the heart, one which has sent ripples out into the world.  I felt privileged to be able to tag along on her journey.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die

If ever there was a book that deals with the subject of animal death in an unsentimental way, Going Home:  Finding Peace When Pets Die is it.

That's not to say that author Jon Katz doesn't care about the animals he has had to euthanize:  he does, deeply.  But unlike so many preachy books on this subject, Katz writes with dispassion, clarity, and even wisdom.  Though he agonized over his decision to end the life of his iconic dog, Orson, Katz was completely unprepared for the way the border collie's death would subsequently affect him:

"I did not want to be one of those silly people who lost themselves in the lives of their dogs and cats.  I didn't want people to see how I felt.  I told myself that Orson was just a dog, an animal.  It wasn't like he was human.  Yet my grief could hardly have been worse.  I admitted to myself that I had lost members of my family for whom I had not felt that much sorrow.  It was a shocking thing to consider."

I've long admired Katz's writings about the wonderful dogs with whom he shares his days at Bedlam Farm, but have mistrusted him since he first wrote about sending an adopted steer, Elvis, to slaughter.  And to be honest, those feelings rose up anew while I was reading Going Home, in which Katz recounts Elvis's sad fate yet again.

Katz freely admits that he "adopted Elvis, a three-thousand-pound Swiss steer, to spare him from the slaughterhouse."  In spite of having made that commitment, Katz started to feel "uneasy" about the gentle giant when he had to change his own routine to accommodate Elvis's.  though Katz says, "Killing Elvis was not the ending I wanted," he rationalized it by finding a slaughterhouse that "used sedatives so that the animals did not feel pain."  Katz dispatched Elvis in a neighboring farmer's trailer, feeding him "one last chocolate donut from Dunkin' Donuts, his favorite treat," perhaps as a way of assuaging his guilt, perhaps not.

I couldn't help but compare the image of Elvis being led away to his bloody demise with the deathbed scene of the steer, Samson, which was so lovingly described by Kathy Stevens in Where the Blind Horse Sings.  When it was his time to go, Samson wasn't sent away to face a brutal ending:  he quietly fell into unconsciousness at the farm where he had lived out his life in peace and dignity.

If the chapter on Elvis is Going Home's worst, the section on the way in which children can be helped to understand and mourn the death of a beloved pet is one of the best.  Katz says that we should respect children enough to tell them the truth about what is happening to their dog or cat, and be given the opportunity to say good-bye when the time comes.  I agree.  But so often, it is our own discomfort with the details of death that makes us fumble:  we simply don't know what to say, or do.  Katz counsels:

"For families dealing with the death of a pet, it's important for parents to share the experience of grief with their kids, rather than ignore it or simply wait for it to pass.  Acknowledging loss is important.  Children's grief ought not to be rushed or diminished any more than the pain adults feel when their animals die."

In the end, Going Home:  Finding Peace When Pets Die is a good read, even if you don't agree with Katz's life-and-death decisions and the way in which he's rationalized them.  The man has grieved greatly for his lost creature companions, and in that, we're all united.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: The New Holistic Way for Dogs & Cats, by Paul McCutcheon, DVM

Dr. Paul McCutcheon sees things differently. When a client makes an appointment for him to treat a dog because the dog is compulsively licking and chewing his skin, for example, the Ontario-based veterinarian doesn't immediately reach for a shot of prednisone. Instead, he starts asking questions.

After more than 35 years as a holistic small animal practitioner, his focus is to identify the early signs of "unwellness" before they explode into full-blown disease. And, as he explains in his important book, The New Holistic Way for Dogs & Cats: The Stress-Health Connection, "there are important differences between the way mainstream medicine and the holistic way attempt to find out what's wrong when a pet is not well."

Rather than rushing to eradicate the symptoms of an animal's illness, Dr. McCutcheon becomes a detective, seeking to identify what external forces may have tipped the balance in an animal's equilibrium and garbled the energy flowing through his "living terrain," compromising his immune system in the process. In this respect, he differs sharply from conventional veterinarians who reach for a quick fix--that shot of prednisone--to quell an animal's pain and discomfort, without worrying too much about how a steroid injection may simply further impair the animal's ability to heal.

In a life devoted to animal healing, Dr. McCutcheon has emphasized the power of prevention, and it's here that he empowers animal caretakers by helping us to become mindful of the insidious and often unrecognized sources of stress that affect our animals in ways we never intended or imagined. In Dr. McCutcheon's view, "stress is the sole cause of everything that happens to our pets' health."

It's when stress becomes chronic and unrelenting, and morphs into distress--from the high-pitched noise that never stops, the shock collar, the processed foods, the annual vaccinations, or the exposure to toxic household or lawn chemicals--that problems can ensue:

"Because it is prolonged and persistent, chronic stress can wear a pet down over time. Its effects manifest differently in each individual. One animal may show it through a behavioral issue; another, through a gastrointestinal disturbance; and a third, through unexplained weight loss. It may also produce problems with organs or glands, such as heart disease or diabetes. . .

Chronic stress can also compromise a pet's health indirectly. For example, she may become more susceptible to infections, and eventually to degenerative conditions such as cancer or allergies."

Dr. McCutcheon challenges his clients, and his readers, to become their animals' stress monitors and to ask themselves how their own habits and lifestyle choices may be putting their animals' health at risk. He urges us to watch for subtle signs of unwellness--such as changes in our animals' behavior, appearance, energy level, habits, appetite, weight, and even smell--and regard them as early warning signals that something may be wrong.

The New Holistic Way for Dogs & Cats offers a refreshing--and some would say, even radical--approach to protecting, preserving, and enhancing our animals' health. For those whose efforts to "cure" their animals from illness or chronic conditions have dead-ended, it offers options. And for those whose animals are facing daunting diagnoses, it offers hope. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Talk with Dr. Paul McCutcheon, Author of The New Holistic Way for Dogs & Cats during April 28th Teleconference

The next "Conversations with Animal Authors" teleconference will feature Dr. Paul McCutcheon, DVM, who will discuss his recent book, The New Holistic Way for Dogs & Cats: The Stress-Health Connection, on Wednesday, April 28th at 8:00pm (EDT).

Dr. Paul McCutcheon is the founder of Toronto's East York Animal Clinic, and a former Director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.  For more than 40 years, he has been helping small animals recover from the stress in their lives and the physical and emotional problems it causes them.

In Dr. McCutcheon's view, stress is the underlying cause of every health problem that affects our animals, initially weakening their immune systems, and, if not alleviated, leading them down the road to "unwellness" and ultimately, to serious disease and chronic health issues.   He looks at the underlying roots of an animal's affliction, and unlike mainstream veterinarians, seeks to treat not simply the symptoms but to understand and correct the dis-ease that is compromising the animal's health. 

In The New Holistic Way for Dogs & Cats, Dr. McCutcheon presents a revolutionary way of preserving, maintaining, and enhancing our animals' well-being, with the goal of leading them "toward a more vibrant state of wellness."  He discusses his personal protocol for immunization (which probably differs from anything you've heard before), the role of homeopathy, the stress that can be created by an improper diet, the role of stress in cancer, the natural process of dying, and so much more. You won't want to miss this call!

If you'd like to have an opportunity to chat with Dr. McCutcheon about your own animal, you can join the "Conversations with Animal Authors" call by dialing 712-432-0180 and entering PIN # 1063739 on Wednesday, April 28th at 8:00pm (EDT).  Long-distance charges may apply.  If you can't participate live but would like to hear the interview, it will be recorded and archived on this site within a few days after the event.