Archive for the ‘animal stories’ Category

Taiwanese dogs, why we rescue

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

A week ago I went to the airport to help out a local group called Salty Dog Rescue and came home with a foster dog.

And so begins my journey with Ali, my Taiwanese street dog.

As we wander around Seattle meeting people, I get the same question over and over again.

We have enough dogs in this country – why are we bringing in more?

I know, I know but anyone who has been to a country with a large stray dog population knows the misery of what being a dog can be. It makes a lot of what we see over here in shelters look like nothing.

In Taiwan there is estimated to be between 500,000 – 1,000,000 stray dogs on the streets, yes that is a million. Dogs are viewed as a nuisance by some and there are those that put out inhumane bear leg traps. Dogs end up losing parts of their legs in the process and many die horrible deaths from abuse or starvation. There are of course many dog lovers there also but the number of strays is too overwhelming to be solved by simple adoption – there is too many.

Yes I know, adopting out these dogs is just a branch of the problem.

The root of the problem is spay/neuter and education and there are groups over there working on it. Meanwhile there are all these dogs and as many dog lovers knows – it is hard to look a dog in the eye and tell them they don’t matter.

Sometimes you have to focus on the branches in order to tackle the root of a problem. When we focus on the branches instead of the root by bringing dogs to this country, we are also helping the groups over there that are striking at the roots of the problem through spay and neuter and education. It is a long hard road they are on and being able to look some of these dogs in the eyes and tell them that there is hope and that they can be loved and respected, is a big thing to these rescue workers when you see so much suffering on a daily basis.

Believe me, when I did shelter work, if I had to go to work each day just to spay/neuter and euthanize I would not have been able to do it very long. It was the fact that I was able to help individual animals, be able to look in their eyes and say, “we will find you a better home.” Without this I could not have done the hard parts of my job.

So bringing dogs to this country opens a ray of hope beyond what can be achieved by just adoption within Taiwan. And if you are one of those lucky dogs who does make it over here you have a chance to have a home, have a human who loves you, have food and safety and also become an ambassador for all the dogs back in Taiwan who are not so lucky.

More on Ali soon….meanwhile here are some links to read more about Taiwanese dogs

Animal Rescue Team Taiwan is the group that Ali came from over in Taiwan. You can use Google translator if you want to read it in English.

Here is a little about the Formosan Mountain Dogs
which these street dogs are descended from.

Salty Dog Rescue is the Seattle group, which brought Ali over here. They have a list of dogs up for adoption and who need foster homes. They also have links to articles on the animal abuse in Taiwan.

All the photographs of dogs in this article are looking for homes, click on their photos for more information.

Triskele – a children’s story

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

1. That night my mother tucked me into bed and whispered to me, “remember tomorrow we’re going to find a puppy.” I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I lay there thinking about who my dog would be.

2. Maybe he would be a small white fluffy puppy, so soft and snuggly –
Or a big husky with a wooly thick coat to keep me warm –
Or a pug with a funny face who snorted all the time and made me laugh –
Or a bouncy golden retriever with floppy ears who I could play ball with.

3. Slowly my eyes became heavy and with my head full of dogs I fell into a deep sleep and dreamed.

4. In my dream I stepped onto an empty beach along a desert. I could see cactuses off in the distance raising their prickly arms in the air and waving at me. I stopped to pick up a handful of white sand. It felt warm. I watched the small bright pebbles run through my fingertips.

5. A little dog trotted towards me. He was thin and wet with a brindle coat of browns and blacks, colors woven together like an Indian blanket. Sand matted against his wet fur sparkling slightly in the sun. One of his ears was torn and bleeding and he looked at me with big sad eyes.

6. I bent down to talk to him. “Do you know which way your home is little dog?” I asked him. He shook his head, spraying me with water and sand.

I reached out and let him sniff my hand. “Do you have someone who loves you?”

7. He looked at me, cocking his head to the side.
“Is your home with me, are you my dream dog come from the stars? Did you travel through galaxies to be with me?”

We stood inches away from each other, the two of us from different worlds. “Did you come into my dream or am I in yours?” I asked him.

7. I walked down the beach and he continued to follow me. “You are my person.” He told me, “I am Triskele”

“How can I be your person little dream dog Triskele?” I asked him.

“You are my person,” he repeated looking up at me.

8. We danced through the waves together, splashing each other and laughing. We built sandcastles in the damp sand and finally when we were both tired…

9. We sat together and I put my hand on his bony side as we watched the sun go down into the sea and the sky become an explosion of reds, pinks and purples. He curled up next to me and lay his head on my lap as I stroked him gently.

10. As it became dark I started to miss my bed and home. I looked up and saw a light behind me. It was a door opening along the sand dunes and looking through it I saw my bedroom. I turned to Triskele and said to him, “let’s go home.” I climbed up through the door but when Triskele tried to follow he could not make it through. I put out my hand to help him but the door and Triskele faded away as I reached out for him.

“I’m sorry little dream dog Triskele, I thought you could come with me but maybe you’re just part of my dream. Rest little dream dog. I hope that I see you again,” I said sadly.

11. I woke to the sound of rain with my dream dog in my heart. I lay in bed feeling sad and missing him.

The light came on and my mother came in. “Wake up Irene, today’s the day we go to the animal shelter to get a puppy. You don’t want to be late,” she said.

12. I quickly dressed, ate breakfast, and brushed my teeth. We were going to the animal shelter!

13. The rain poured down as we drove, and drove some more. Finally we turned into the driveway of the shelter. The sound of barking dogs met my ears.

14. My mother talked to the woman behind the counter. “No we would really like a puppy so we can train him to be kind and gentle although we might consider an older dog if she had been with a good family before.”

15. We walked down the aisle through the kennels of dogs. There were small ones and large ones, plump ones and thin ones, one with long hair and long legs, funny looking ones with crooked teeth. But none of them were my dream dog Triskele.

16. We stopped in front of a kennel of small puppies. They bounced around like little fuzzy rubber balls, playing with each other. The woman put a small black and white one in my hands and I held him close, smelling his puppy scent. But then I was sad. “You are not my Triskele,” I said to the puppy handing him back to the woman. “Although I’m sure you’ll find a good home.”

17. My mother looked at me. “What about one of these puppies?” she asked pointing to the others.

I shook my head no. “I don’t want a puppy,” I said “ my dog is all alone somewhere. I want to find him.” I could feel tears coming into my eyes.

18. “Triskele did you travel back to the stars?” I thought, “are you visiting the moon. Will you ever come back to me?”

19. We went to leave and were walking out of the kennels when I noticed in the last kennel a little curled up brown and black body in the corner. I bent down and whispered softly, “Triskele?” He raised him head and looked up at me with his gentle eyes, wagging his tail he slowly approached. I reached out my hand to touch him through the gate and he licked me cautiously.

20. The woman opened the gate on the kennel and he leaned into me. I gently scratched his ears, noticing a jagged scar along one of them.

“I don’t know, “ my mother said, “he seems a little scared, I’m not sure about the breed, and he’s not a puppy Irene.”

21. “He’s my dog,” I told her, “This is Triskele. He’s coming home with us,” and I held him close to me, burying my face into his short fur.

“I guess if you’re sure, “ she said. The woman who worked at the animal shelter smiled at us. “He’s had a hard life but he’s very sweet and gentle,” she said.

22. “Triskele, this time you really are coming with me.” I told him. Triskele looked up at me as if to say “thank you for helping me find my way home.”

23. That night I feel asleep with my dog Triskele, not only in my heart but also asleep at my side.

This story is dedicated and written in memory of a stray semi-feral dog who I met on a beach in Mexico. It is also dedicated to all the amazing people across the world who work with homeless dogs – the world is a better place because of you.

I hope that some day I can self-publish this and use it to raise awareness of the lives of homeless dogs and that there are many amazing strays and homeless animals of all shapes, types and sizes that need homes. At this point I am learning to be an artist so I can bring it to life with pictures. For now thank you to everyone who licensed their photos through creative commons and allowed me to use them.

Acupuncture as a family

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

People are often amazed that I do acupuncture on the little guys – the cats, the rabbits, and the chihuahuas. I even have one little yorkie who is smaller than the chihuahuas I treat.

One thing I miss about doing house calls is that I don’t often get to meet everyone’s complete animal family working at the clinic. There is something fun about getting to know everyone and becoming part of that family.

However I do have some animals who come in together for acupuncture or bring along friends. One of my favorite animal families includes three chihuahuas, a cat and a large dog named Boomer. And sometimes they all come in together! If you have been to my clinic you know my treatment room is quite small so this is something. Usually we end up with the chihuahuas, Pickles, Bambi and Oliver and the cat Harley on the couch with me and their human mom Mary and Boomer on the rug. We all fit!

I often find that little dogs are a bit nervous about acupuncture but they quickly warm up to it. Pickles used to shiver but now she proudly jumps on my lap and enjoys herself. I enjoy getting to snuggle with her during treatments. Harley the cat happily curls up with his chihuahua friends and the only thing we have to worry about is one of the little dogs accidentally sitting on one of his needles. He is one cool cat in a household of dogs.

Bambi is the newest addition to the family and is an elderly little girl with a host of problems, eye, skin, heart and mobility. Her human mom Mary fell in love with her and brought her home and is busy nursing her back to health. She also is now enjoying getting her treatments.

Oliver and Boomer just come along for the ride but seem to enjoy being part of the crowd and I enjoy getting to see them every month. They don’t seem to understand why they don’t get quite as much attention as the girl dogs.

I love that my practice includes animals of all types, personalities and sizes. I love helping them feel better and spoiling them with treats!

Casey Thomas is turning 19 years old!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

It’s not every day you celebrate your 19th birthday and that is especially true if you are a dog. Tomorrow Casey Thomas will be turning 19 years old, making him the oldest little guy I have worked with so far.

Casey is a sweet little old man, with greying whiskers and fuzzy black feet. He can still be quite feisty, after all he is a terrier. He likes his short walks down the block although sometimes they are more about sniffing than walking and sometimes he asks to be carried back home. He doesn’t hear and see like he used to anymore but he is well loved and cared for. He loves to snuggle with his mom and aunt and likes to eat with his family, preferring to eat what they are eating these days and that is perfectly fine.

He pulled through a major bout of pneumonia this past year and we thought we might lose him but he is back to going strong. He loves his acupuncture, although hates the needles going in, that is when his feistiness comes up, did I mention he is a terrier. However acupuncture makes him immediately perk up and feel better. You can see the spring come back into his step.

Casey is well over 100 years old in human years. I hope I’m as healthy and loved as he is when I reach that age.

Happy Birthday!

Maggie Rose

Monday, February 20th, 2012

If you happen to walk down Forest Street,
There is a Golden Retriever you’re sure to meet.
She might surprise you with an aggressive Hello,
But with a stuffed animal in her mouth she’s a sweetheart you know.
Her name is Maggie and she was born a Taurus,
Stubborn and proud she came to live before us.

There were times when she looked at you regal and gay,
And she said ‘you can’t catch me’ and then ran away.
Maggie Rose was the mascot of the neighborhood.
She taught all the kids to love dogs as only a golden could.
When it came to her diet anything was fair game.
Cat food was okay but chocolate cake was her claim to fame.

Tennis balls were her favorite and she had one for you,
Sometimes one in her mouth but more likely two.
The Rosebud was gentle and never did growl,
But when she heard a siren boy would she howl.
Her voice was pure and her singing was true,
So many octaves she would play for you.

Maggies tail is long and certainly able,
To take a swipe and clear off the table.
When she sleeps near the bed on the floor,
Like a truck driver she can loudly snore.
Sometimes a plant in the yard will turn brown.
Apparently Maggie has decided to dig out the ground.

Many battles Maggie has fought and many she’s won,
Ear hematoma, seizures and cancer she’s done.
People around the world she has taught to cope,
With her friend Lena and her herbs and her hope.
Three legs are better than four you describe,
Been there, done that, I’m a member of that tribe.

So now my time has come I’m sorry to say.
I’ve made so many friends I’ve met along the way,
Abbie, Rainy, Jax, Charlie, Bullits, Oscar and Pam,
Joey, Jeff, Dr. Tripp, Dr. Waterhouse and VCM.
Life is a journey and my path has been fun,
And in the arms of my Mom a new one I’ve begun.

So now when you’re walking down Forest Street,
Maggie Rose you can no longer greet,
But to her people who miss her to no end,
Please stop and say you knew her as your friend.
For that Golden Retriever that so soon did depart,
Will always have a special place in our heart.

-Jeff Leach

Written in memory of Maggie Rose by her loving human dad. Maggie has inspired people and animals all around the world with her story. We will all miss her. Please click on Maggie’s name to read her story.

Thank you Kathy Crabbe for using creative commons to license your beautiful art so I could share it here.

The Internet brings the world closer

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Part of why I started Path With Paws was to be able to spread information to all the corners of the world. It is so touching for me to hear the stories of animals who have done well because of information I have been able to provide or stories I can share. It is truly a small world out there on the Internet. I have received emails and comments from people on every continent.

Today I received a photo of a dog named Binny from Canada. Binny’s people found some of the information on bone cancer I had posted and decided to go ahead with amputation for Binny and herbal treatments. I think you can see from the photo that Binny is quite happy with three legs. Her mom says “she was already feeling better then before the surgery at the end of the 1st week post op. She is just great now.” I hope that Binny is able to have a long and happy life full of many days of play and fun!

I hope because of dogs like Binny that others will be able to help their animals when cancer is diagnosed. There is nothing that compares to reading stories of real animals living with cancer.

Thank you for letting me share Binny’s photo!

By the way, here is Binny’s extended family enjoying the snow!

It makes me want to move to the country and have a herd of dogs and cats!

An acupuncture lesson – Sessions with Kuma

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Just when I think I’m starting to understand the way the world works, I seem to get a lesson in listening and being open to what is offered and by whom. While I have had animals I have worked with teach me all kinds of important lessons over the years, I have never had one offer me lessons in acupuncture itself. That is, until last Friday.

My last patient of the day was a little Pomeranian I have been treating for a number of years named Kuma. I always look forward to seeing Kuma. He is one of the most expressive dogs I know and he brings both a great open energy and a calmness to his sessions. Often he is my last appointment of the week and his energy always takes me into the weekend feeling good. Kuma is very serious about his acupuncture and is completely in tune with what the needles do to his body. In fact I don’t think I have ever met anyone, either human or animal more in tune.

In the past we have had some amazing sessions.

Kuma has back issues that occasionally flare up and one time he came in with his back really bothering him. After I placed the needles he immediately settled down and relaxed.

While his mom and I watched in amazement, the needles in Kuma’s body started shaking and I don’t mean just a little movement — those needles were dancing and everything that was stuck in his body was moving out through them. Now I have had dogs and cats that have some movement to their needles during treatment, but this was something much more impressive. It looked like there was a current attached to those needles, yet Kuma was completely relaxed and laying flat on his pillow. At first they moved quite fast, but as he went through his treatment they started to slow and towards the end we watched one after another finally stop. The moment the last needle stopped moving he jumped up, insisting that I take them out. And boy did he feel good, he went bouncing around the room like a new dog.

In his session Friday, Kuma had a little inflammation in his back again but it wasn’t as bad as it sometimes is. I put his needles in like I normally do and we waited for him to settle down like he normally does. But this time he didn’t. He was antsy, he would sit down for a moment and then stand up, he shook some needles out, he moved around, he just would not settle.

Occasionally Kuma will have a needle that is hurting him and most of the time he will look back at it and then look at me when that happens. He wasn’t doing that this time but still I moved a couple needles to make sure.

However this time he was acting differently then normal. He was coming towards me and grabbing my hand with his paw and bringing it towards him. At first I thought he just wanted me to scratch a certain spot or to move my hand closer so he could lick it. But it became clear, he was clearly trying to tell me something. But what?

At the same time all these was happening, I kept on having this thought in my head that I should have treated his back differently. I was actually starting to feel quite insecure about the whole thing, like I didn’t know what I was doing. While I tried to push that thought away it kept on coming back. Finally it was too overwhelming to ignore especially with Kuma clearly feeling like something was wrong.

I placed a couple extra needles in his back, following the pictures that kept on coming into my head and immediately he settled down, within seconds. He was relaxed, he put his head down, he looks like he was asleep except his eyes were open a little.

His mom and I just sat there and looked at each other and back to him.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog teach me acupuncture before,” I said.

In this world our teachers come in all sorts of packages and with all sorts of lessons to offer. Yes, Kuma did teach me acupuncture, he knew even better than I did what he needed, but he also taught me to trust what I am feeling more than my knowledge and to listen even when the voices I hear do not come in the form of the human voices I am used to hearing.

The life and times of Tyler

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

I am lucky to work with some of the most amazing animals and their people and get to be part of their lives. I love those I work with, they grace my life with their presence.

However there is also great sadness in my work. Most of the animals I work with are old and they reach a time that they need to pass on. We are blessed to be able to help them with this passing. Mixed with the sadness of their passing is joy for who these incredible animals have helped us become and the love they have shared with us which we hold in our hearts forever.

Over the years I have received a wonderful collection of beautiful photos and reminders of animals I have loved and worked with. Many of these animals had great lives and many have stories to tell. People often times sent me photographs of their animals when they were young and I am able to see a glimpse of these stories.

This week I learned that a sweet little dog I treated named Tyler passed away. Tyler was one of those amazing older dogs who still seemed like a puppy to me. He had this soft curly hair like a puppy and a sparkle in his eyes when he would come in. I’m not sure exactly what his mix was but he also had a face that just made him look young. We weren’t completely sure about his age but he was at least sixteen, possibly older when he passed away. It was clear that Tyler was loved from seeing him with his mom Jen. You could see the love that would pass between the two of them when they looked into each others eyes.

With Tyler’s passing Jen and her husband Alex put together a beautiful slide show of Tyler’s life. I have never seen something so moving and that so shows the bond between a dog and his people. It is clear in these pictures who Tyler was and how important he was to Jen and those who surrounded her. Jen shared with me that as Tyler got older one of her wishes was for him to see their first child be born, as Jen put it, “having our two kids meet one another, even if only briefly..” Tyler fulfilled that wish and then passed on. The last photograph in the slide show is labeled Complete Family.

Life is a journey and that journey is made richer by those we share our lives with. It is clear everyone who Tyler touched had a richer life because of him.

Jen gave me permission to share her photographs and Tyler’s journey with you. There are almost 130 photographs here, all of them amazing. You can see them on the slideshow below or if you want to see larger photos with captions you can click on the photo of Tyler below the slideshow to go to the flickr page and arrow through.

I hope that you are as touched as I am by these.

Prognoses are only as good as the paper they are printed on – Lou’s story

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Every two weeks I receive a visit from a special visitor. Lou bounds into by office as soon as the door is open enough for him to squeeze through, and comes dancing over to me and the treat jar. However, as much as Lou loves his treats, he likes his acupuncture even better. As soon as he sees the needles come out he immediately sits down, positioning himself so I can easily put the needles in.

If possible his position will be between his human mom Susan and me so that he can easily get rubs and pets from us both while his needles work. And he’s good at telling us if we aren’t touching him enough, usually with a look or a gentle paw to the arm, “more of that please.”

I treat many wonderful special animals every week. I often say that I have the best animals in the world as patients, and I believe it to be true. So why is Lou special?

I could say that it’s the way that his eyes dance with joy as he comes into the room, or his love of the world and every moment, but there is more to it then that. That is all true, but one of the amazing things about Lou is that he was diagnosed with a pretty severe case of cancer almost a year ago. At the time of his diagnosis his cancer, which originated in a tumor in his liver, had already spread to his lungs and his prognosis was not good, maybe three months at most if we were lucky.

Lou was dying, however no one gave Lou that message. And I’m not sure Lou would have believed them even if they had.

Over the last ten months I have treated Lou, I have seen him get younger, not older. While he may have cancer, he is living with it, not dying from it. He has a back condition which seems to bother him less these days and his energy is excellent. He really, really enjoys life.

There was a time we thought he was starting to check out, but after adding in a new herbal treatment he was back to normal in a few days. He is great at springing back!

The thing is that dogs don’t read textbooks. Lou’s already outlived every prediction in the textbooks anyway. I no longer can tell you what Lou’s prognosis is, and there is no point guessing. He is thirteen years old at this point and I’m not sure he got the message about being thirteen either. He seems to be living his life backwards, getting more healthy and enjoying every moment more the longer he lives.

Sometimes I feel like I learn the most from the animals I treat with cancer. They are the ones that seem to inspire me, and all the people they touch, to enjoy life and just live. Lou has definitely taught me that prognoses are only as good as the paper they are printed on. We can’t live off of paper but we do live off of the joy we put into each day of our lives.

Update 7/1/11 Lou went into his primary veterinarian for his yearly check up about a month ago. He was amazed that Lou has continued to do so well and said, “since we don’t know how long he may be here, we may want to start worrying about getting him a dental.” It has now been over a year since his diagnosis and Lou continues to do well and is scheduled for a non-anesthetic dental later in the summer.

4/25/12 Sadly Lou passed away a couple weeks ago at the age of 14. We will all miss him. In the end it was a heart condition that became greater than his body could deal with.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs

Subway dogs

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

subwaydog2The clever canines board the Tube each morning. After a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night. Experts studying the dogs say they even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop – after learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train. The mutts choose the quietest carriages at the front and back of the train. They have also developed tactics to hustle humans into giving them more food on the streets of Moscow .

Very cool article from the Sun. Read the whole article at Wild dogs take chewbilee line.