If something does not feel right, it isn’t.

If something feels off, it is.

If something is making you feel uneasy, there is a reason, and you should not ignore this feeling, you should find out why.

This is where investigating and researching come in, and is referred to as due diligence, meaning, do your homework. If you really want to know something, it is best to do the footwork yourself, as one answer generally leads to another question, to another answer, and so on.

Calling, reading, researching, knocking on doors, e-mailing, meeting for a cup of coffee to ask questions, all of these tools are there, and great assists with finding information, or growing your own personal knowledge, which always gives way to expansion in understanding.

Everybody has the ability to independently research, think critically, and solve complex problems. Don’t ever let anyone dissuade you, intimidate you, or shame you from gaining more knowledge. We live in a time where we have the most powerful research tool in the history of mankind at our fingertips, literally. Use it.

In some cases, because of the subject matter, you need to create a support system of some kind, either an agreement with yourself, or with others that can hold space for you. So, before you start your due diligence, prepare your heart, prepare your mind, prepare your soul, find that place in yourself where you stand with persistence and resilience, and have support.

Time, sometimes you need to let questions or answers simmer, open up, and reveal more information. Let this be okay. You might need to wait on a phone call for days or weeks, or schedule an in-person appointment that isn’t until the following month. Sometimes it is okay to step away from gathering information, give yourself a break, take a deep breath, and start anew.

Learning without judgement takes practice. Sometimes the truth does not fit the narrative, and you have to be able to ask questions, be open minded, and listen. And to be honest, sometimes the truth turns out to be the least popular answer, and easily dismissed, or whitewashed, so you need to know how you will handle that kind of pressure.

Beliefs are more like blind faith, and should stay with your god, not your research. If you are one that borders on cognitive dissonance with some topics, you need to work to let that go, have an open mind so you can learn objectively. Please do not have a belief or blind faith in a person, a professional, a business, a thing, a document, an article, et cetera. Always be on the path to asking questions, listening to answers, and asking more questions. Finding answers is puzzle solving, some pieces fit and some don’t.


My due diligence started the minute after Rhumb was dead. What the hell just happened and why? Optimally healthy dogs in their prime don’t just die, in my world anyway.

I stand in a place with over 18 years of professional knowledge and skill in the canine world, and 35 years of working with dogs, I am accomplished in my field, and my knowledge and experience is deep and board. And I am not done learning, everyday I add to this knowledge.

Yet here I stood in unfamiliar territory, out of any context that could possibly make sense, along with pretty much everyone around me in the veterinary clinic, what the hell just happened? Emotions were raw, tangible, and heightened to say the least.

Rabies, she has rabies, and a whole bunch of other dramatic bullshit that followed.

Six hours worth of tears dried up immediately to what was now being directed at me. The words coming at me were both stunning and sobering. While I knew what was being said was false, groundless, and unfounded accusations, they turned out to be damaging in my trust going forward.

I made a list of what I needed to learn more about, and started reading, researching, and calling. It was all super confusing in the beginning as all of the diagnosis under lower motor neuron events were huge and out of the ordinary.

STARTING THE RESEARCH – I read into the wee hours of the morning for over eight weeks, if she died from one of these, how did she contract it, and what if anything did we miss. I read everything I could find on –

  • Coonhound paralysis
  • Guillan Barre Syndrome
  • Border Collie Genetics
  • Encephalitis
  • Rabies
  • Botulism
  • Ticks
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Lower Motor Neuron Events
  • Neurotoxins – natural and man-made
  • Toxoplasmosis

I printed out information, purchased studies, read everything in the Merck Manual and NCBI on lower motor neuron events. There were no words that were going to bring me relief or make me feel better about what happened, it was all bad news, all of it. Sitting down at my computer and reading for hours upon hours took me to a very dark place each time. While I was learning a great deal, I was also not sleeping very well. While all of them fit, none of them fit. While all of them have similar symptoms, they were all slightly different as well. There was a piece of the puzzle I was missing.

LOOKING FOR EVIDENCE – Because we didn’t know what she died from we started searching everything starting the day she died. We had four dogs, 2 goats, 20 ducks, and 36 quail still living and healthy, if something that was a lethal neurotoxin was on our property we needed to look for it, so we searched for –

  • raccoon tracks
  • cat tracks
  • people tracks
  • dead animals
  • carrion
  • ripped apart our freezers
  • went through all of our food and our dogs food that I had made
  • went through our pantry
  • searched the garage
  • searched the loafing shed
  • went through our cars
  • tore apart the house
  • went through laundry
  • went through our guests luggage
  • called everyone that had stayed with us over the past month to ask about legal and illegal pharmaceuticals that they may have had with them
  • walked our property in grid patterns every night looking for clues
  • looked for anything odd or new

… and nothing was showing or coming up – day after day and night after night.

CALLING AND E-MAILING – I called and e-mailed my veterinary clinic with questions. I needed to understand what I was reading and needed some clarifications. They were kind in calling and e-mailing me back to a point, and then it stopped. I understand fully that I am merely one of their clients, and the due diligence falls to me, because Rhumb was my dog and my life was attached to hers.

So I went through the studies and documents I had and started calling and e-mailing other professionals when I had questions.

  • AG Extensions
  • Livestock Extensions
  • State Veterinarian
  • AVMA
  • LMN Specialists (MD)
  • Infectious Disease Specialist (MD)
  • Veterinary Genetic Specialist
  • Veterinarians
  • My Quail Breeder
  • My Goat Breeder
  • My Duck Breeder
  • My Hatcheries
  • Master Herbalist for Animals
  • Pathologists
  • Ranches I work with
  • Farms I work with
  • My Border Collie Breeder
  • Holistic Veterinarian
  • Naturopath Veterinarian
  • Medical Doctors
  • Health Magazine Editors
  • Nutritionists
  • Veterinary Teaching Hospitals
  • Processors / Slaughter houses
  • and finally … Toxicologist

Everybody, and I mean everybody that answered their phone or responded via e-mail was kind and generous with information. Everyone took the time to share their knowledge with me whether they had an answer or felt that referring me to someone else would be more helpful.

And I will be honest that on some days I felt guided, and there would be a power of synchronicity that could not be explained.

As I started to post Rhumb’s story I did have people in the medical world, human and animal, contact me with information that was helpful in my research. I have a large base of practicing and retired doctors who were incredibly supportive, and helpful. A couple had me to their home for holiday cake and coffee to talk this over. More tears than holiday joy to be sure, but I felt safe and I felt supported, and I suppose that was really what I needed at that time.

The toxicologist from Michigan State University, who was the final one on my list to call, was the person that did the tox-screen for Rhumb’s necropsy.

He is the Chief Toxicologist and answered his own damn phone. We entered into a conversation that lead to a very detailed conversation that lead to him offering to retest her samples with a more sensitive method. He then said can I ask you some questions? After eight weeks of me asking questions, finally someone wanted to know something about Rhumb. Yes, yes ask me …

We talked for nearly 2 hours on the phone, his questions were so detailed so intimate to our life, life style, all of our animals, and who Rhumb was in her life, activities, and health. It was the first night I slept through the night in eight weeks. And everyday I woke up to an e-mail from him can I ask you some more questions? …

The pathologist believed she died of botulism because of the raw food that I fed her, and recommended further testing at our expense. The toxicologist after reviewing all of our information said, that isn’t how this works, if that were the case you would have five dead dogs.

Sometimes, it is being heard objectively that counts the most.

The toxicologist informed me that he used/ and is using Rhumb’s story as a CASE STUDY for his advanced class and staff.


  • It was not an organophosphate poisoning
  • It was not ivermectin poisoning
  • It was not a non-anticoagulant rat poison
  • It was not genetics
  • It was not rabies, myasthenia gravis, toxoplasmosis, or coonhound paralysis
  • It was not from being fed a raw diet
  • Guillan Barre was never investigated – the pathologist considered it a red herring
  • Rhumb was in the luteal phase of her heat cycle, which is progesterone dominant and immune suppressed
  • It could be wound botulism – she had a small surface scrape on her nose a month before, but it wasn’t out of the ordinary in our world
  • It could be anatoxin-a cyanobacteria – the toxicologist mentioned that her time frame and symptoms had an uncanny perfect match with the VFDF – very fast death factor
  • It could be a black widow spider bite – we have them in our loafing shed, and garage – same symptoms and the venom is not detectable in a tox-screen, this was never investigated during the necropsy
  • It could be malicious poisoning – there are some pharmaceuticals that act as a neurotoxin and do not show on tox-screens unless you know specifically what you are looking for – mdma being one of many

I have no conclusion for Rhumb’s story. I still cry most days, some days it is all day and others it is just moments. I was not ready for her to be a memory.

I have no bad feelings towards anyone, I want that to be clear, but I have lost a level of trust, it is shaky at best, by the leveling amount of bias that exists.

Through all of my research and information gathering I have met some really incredible people that have inspired me in unexpected ways. This is the good that has come out of all of this.

My husband and I talk almost every evening about Rhumb, sometimes it is memories, and sometimes it is more spiritual, and sometimes it is the gifts she has given Massimo and Mama Beetz.

If there is anything I can give, it is my words, my information, and my encouragement to stand tall, show up everyday for yourself and your animals, and to be a kind, informed, and objective person.



7 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Fields says:

    I am so sorry and your pain reminds me of my last dog who passed.
    Would you be interested in an Animal Communicator? I have a good friend of 30 years who is amazing talking to the animal after death. You can ask any question.
    You will know if it feels right and you have nothing to lose but some money.
    You can look her up if you want. .Judy Fuson. She is in Tuscon,Az. Mention my name if you want. I hope it helps. I am truly sorry for you.


    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      thank you – Nancy

      1. Jodi Altman says:

        Your writing is beautiful, fierce and enlightening. I am sorry for your pain and loss of Rumb in such a brutal way. I hope you find peace. Thank you for sharing such intimate feelings with us, your art is important for us all.

      2. Nancy Tanner says:

        Jodi ❤ thank you – Nancy

      3. Lisa Signorelli says:

        Hi Nancy,

        I think I understand what you are going through. Years ago I had a deeply loved cat who literally dropped dead at 2 years old. Healthy, active, robust. The necropsy and toxicology showed nothing. I balked at dissecting his brain. I agonized, especially because we had his brother also. I read everything. No answers.
        All to say I know that feeling of helplessness. I hope in time you will find solace in her life with you. But yes, it’s agonizing.
        Lisa Signorelli

      4. Nancy Tanner says:

        ❤ thank you – Nancy

  2. Teresa says:

    My dog Nickie died from a brown recluse bite, no neurological symptoms , only evidence that alerted us were labs that pointed to AIHA.

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