Fifty plus years ago our family dogs had a dog run on the side of the house, access to the yard, and if the gate was open, access to the neighborhood. They ate bagged dog food, all of our leftovers, food we snuck under the table for them, plus raw fish from our boat, and raw bones.
We always knew they would come home if they got out of our yard, so we never went to look for them, and we never pondered what they did with all of their free time. It was just a dog thing.
Our dogs were all people friendly, dog social that we knew of, and happy. They were for sure all ‘kid-dogs’ and did everything we did, walk to the pond, roller skating, swimming, wondering through the woods, running and playing in the yard, garden work, etc. We had no behavioral issues, no barking, fence running, or blustery acts of any kind. But we also never had one that died of old age, they all lived large but rather short lives, hunting and cars seemed to be the culprits, not disease.
They had access to ample sunshine, rain, dirt, mud, grass, water, and everything else nature provided.
And if my Mom remembered, they had ‘a’ rabies shot in their lifetime. That was it. They went to the veterinary for desexing and minor injuries, but our visits were years apart, or maybe more.
And our neighbors dogs were pretty much the same. And we all knew the one dog that we needed to stay away from in the neighborhood, and it was literally one.
Was this right or wrong? I don’t know, it was just how it was, a more natural life, but for sure lacking good management.
Fast forward to today, and every other puppy or dog I work with has a digestive issue, cyclical parasite issues, auto-immune disease, liver issues, joint problems, cancer, opinions that fall outside of neutral, or damaging behaviors to self, property, or others.
So what’s the rub here? Today we have advancements in science, medicine, lifestyle, food, knowledge, oh wait a second …
Have we been seeing advancements in health, or advancements in advertising and marketing?
It seems to me that modern dogs are our ‘canary in the coal mine’, and we should be paying attention because right in front of our faces in our vary own living rooms, our dogs are giving us the heads up that all is not well. We have been convinced that trading a more natural life for a processed and pharmaceutically driven life, is somehow better.
Our modern dogs do have more behavioral issues, but is it coming from their breed or breeding or is it coming from, inappropriate processed food, unnecessary medications, household toxins, over vaccination, lack of time in the outdoors, and just maybe all of the things we are being sold to use on them and in them? Or is it a combination of everything, like a ‘layered crap cake’, hard to parcel apart which what is coming from whatever place?
When dogs walk into my classroom I can tell within minutes who is on sugar and who is raw fed. Who is being fed dog food but nutritionally starved. I can tell who is having an adverse reaction to recent vaccines, and which dog has a parasite load. It isn’t rocket science, but rather acutely observing how a dog is negotiating the environment, or not.
And dogs are labeled everyday as difficult, hyper, over the top, aggressive, blustery, a problem, too much for the household, etc.
And I hear the words, unacceptable behavior, must change, must obey, must learn to submit, does my dog need a shock collar to learn? etc.
And when I suggest that in order to see change the household must change, meaning a whole new landscape much different from the current one, and that change starts with diet, I am 50% of the time met with ‘no way’.
There are many steps to change, diet is always number one because we are literally what we eat, and diet determines how we feel and how we act, and will either hijack or enhance over all well-being and health. Without changing the diet it is nothing more than a band-aid on a leaking dam.
Compliance is a funny monkey though, while owners want change with their dog, over half of the people I work with are reluctant or down right resistant to change the people ‘choices’ end of things.
Why? Because advertising and marketing firms know that fear sells things, in fact fear is so powerful that it trumps knowledge, common sense, logic, and love.
If you are told that a raw diet will kill your dog and in turn your children, friends and family, and you will all be shedding salmonella and become the typhoid Mary’s of your neighborhood, you will most likely stick to dead processed food in a bag. Even though we all have a level of common sense and logic, fear tells us not to use it.
And if you are told that heartworm is now rampant in your area and your dog will die a horrible agonizing death, even though since the beginning of time heartworm has never existed in your area, and it isn’t possible because of the colder temperatures, and you have an eight month winter with no possibility of mosquitos, you will sign up for year-round heartworm treatment. Why? Because fear sells, and there is oodles of profit to be had on this medication, and the marketing is strong.
For me, I see sicker dogs every year. I see dogs on diets that are no healthier than a leather boot. I see more medicated dogs every year. I see vaccine injured puppies every night I have class. I see dogs on preventatives for things that don’t need preventing. I see increasing health issues in dogs that shouldn’t be happening, they are almost all man-made. I see gut issues 24/7 365 and this is so upsetting to me. I see it all.
And when a dog doesn’t feel well they don’t act well. This my friends is a fact.
The want to change, to want to learn more, the want for more information is low. People are busy, things to do and places to go, and for some weird twisted reason, these people are more comfortable paying for more of the very things keeping their dogs unwell, than stepping up, slowing down, and creating real change.
Do I work with people who want change, yes, yes I do. People who are looking for truthful information, as hard as it is to hear, find me and do the work, and it is a breath of fresh air to see real change, sustainable healthy change, that takes work and effort, but all so worth it. This, this is what I wish for more and more.