Posts Tagged ‘acupuncture’

Stop the pain! Arthritis and your animal friend – holistic medicine options

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

It’s sad to see our animal companions no longer be able to do the things they once could do as they age and grow older. All older animals have some amount of arthritis, although some have many more problems with it.

Unfortunately, Western medicine has very few options for treating arthritis and uses mostly drugs, to treat the pain. This is starting to change with some veterinarians doing stem cell and plasma rich platelet injections. However these treatments can still be expensive. Ask your vet about if these treatments are right for your dog. Some animals are not able to tolerate these drugs and many times animals are on three different drugs and it still isn’t enough.

In some animals arthritis manifests as weakness caused by the inflammation pushes on the nerves. Many dogs walk around like their feet are asleep, tripping over things, stumbling and no longer having the strength to jump into the car or onto the bed. Unfortunately because they can no longer walk as far or do as much as they used to, their muscles start to atrophy or waste away, causing a vicious cycle. As the weakness increased, they do less, which causes more atrophy from disuse, leading to more weakness and more atrophy and less activity. In the end many of these animals can no longer get up on their own or even take a short walk.

In other animals arthritis will manifest as pain, which can also prevent movement and cause the weakness/atrophy cycle. Many of these animals will become moody and withdrawn and may even snap and bite at their people out of fear of pain. It is so hard to see our friends have so much pain that they no longer want our affection.

In most animals there is a combination of pain and weakness.

Usually dogs suffer more than cats because they carry more weight and are used to daily activity. Also people often don’t notice that their cats are painful because they spend so much time sitting and sleeping

So what do we do for our friends to help them live out their old years happy and pain free?

  • Acupuncture Being an acupuncturist, I always recommend acupuncture first. Of course, this is also because I have seen how well it works in the animals I treat. I often find that if I can work with animals when they first have problems, they do so well, I only need to treat them every one to three months. Unfortunately most of the animals I see have had problems for a while and their people only learned about acupuncture when they had tried everything that western medicine had to offer. In these animals, acupuncture can still work and work well but usually treatments need to be closer together.

    It is so nice to see these animals happy and able to enjoy life again!

  • Hydrotherapy is a great option especially in dogs who have muscle atrophy. Unfortunately it cannot be done with cats, although Sheila Wells at Wellspings has told me they have worked with rabbits before. Hydrotherapy is done in a small swimming pool and involves massage and physical therapy in the water. I have seen excellent results with hydrotherapy especially combined with acupuncture. Hydrotherapy helps to rebuild muscles, increase range of motion and work out sore and sensitive areas of the body without the impact on the body of exercise on land. My favorite pool is Wellsprings in Seattle Washington. They have a great website with lots of information and photos that I love to refer people to. Click on the link to check it out!
  • herbs5

  • Herbs
    I have worked with Chinese herbs with many of these arthritic dogs and some cats. The combination of acupuncture and herbs usually helps with pain and movement and helps animals maintain between treatments. I rarely use Chinese herbs in cats because they are very sensitive to them and it is hard to medicate cats. I sell an senior dog herbal formula called Senior Dog Support, through my etsy shop, that helps with arthritis pain and improves blood circulation into the joints. Your holistic veterinarian may have something else they recommend.
  • Fish oil/ Omega oils
    The Omega 3 Fatty Acids in fish and cod liver oil actually helps decrease arthritic inflammation in dogs (not true for cats although it helps with other things). Adding a little fish oil to the diet can help many animals.My favorite brand is Nordic Naturals – Pet Cod Liver Oil . Nordic Naturals is one of the best brands for quality and they test for heavy metals and contaminants.
  • Glucosamine/MSM/chondroitin
    These supplements help to decrease inflammation and rebuild damaged cartilage. They are often sold in combination. The nice thing about these supplements is that they have few side effects and are very safe. Some animals have a wonderful response to them and some have almost no response. It usually takes a month to six weeks to see if your animal will have a positive response. Adequan, similar to glucosamine is also available in an injectable form and works better in some animals. It is also a lot easier to give to cats who are hard to medicate daily. After the initial series of injections it usually only needs to be given once a month. Adequan can only be purchased through your veterinarian. My favorite glucosamine product is Sea Mobility Beef Joint Rescue jerk treats, they work well and are very tasty. There are other good ones out there.
  • Infra-red light therapy – Infrared light helps ease the pain of arthritis in joints and increase blood circulation to the area. It is very cheap to do and can be done at home. See my article Infrared Light Therapy for kidney failure, incontinence and arthritis.
  • Chiropractics
    Many animals have subluxations of their spine especially as they age. A good chiropractor can often help with mobility and pain. I have found that chiropractic adjustments work best in animals with a very tight back and more pain then weakness. For my own cat, chiropractic adjustments have worked better than anything else we have tried and have made his life much better. Make sure you find a chiropractor who is used to working with animals and knows animal anatomy.
  • Massage/Acupressure
    Massage can help to loosen tight muscles and increase blood circulation. It also can help with pain.We know it works for us, why not for our animal friends. Once again make sure you find a massage practitioner who is certified to work with animals. I have two amazing massage therapists I work with in Seattle, Kim Rogers and Jen Streit. Kim also does humans!

    Acupressure works with the acupuncture points and helps decrease pain and relax muscles.

    There are many great books on acupressure and massage for animals. Here are a few
    The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure
    Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure
    The Healing Touch for Dogs: The Proven Massage Program for Dogs, Revised Edition
    The Healing Touch for Cats: The Proven Massage Program for Cats, Revised Edition
    Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs

  • Reiki/Bowen/Polarity/Craniosacral and other energy therapies These therapies help stimulate the body to heal and can decrease pain and improve quality of life. Since there is little regulation of these therapies it is important to get a referral before seeing someone. This is especially true of Reiki since there are so many people who practice it. A good practitioner can make a huge difference in an animal’s quality of life.

It is better to do one thing and stick with it than to jump around between therapies. Often times animals will began with me doing acupuncture and herbs and then we will add in other therapies as needed. If I can’t help an animal with acupuncture I will refer them to another practitioner to try something else. Don’t make too many changes all at once in an old animal’s life. Go slowly instead.

Basil gets his acupuncture among friends

Friday, March 6th, 2009


For anyone who ever asked,” how do you do acupuncture on a cat?”

Here is a good book on Chinese Medicine and acupuncture/acupressure for cats and dogs
Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs

My vet can no longer help! Who do I turn to now?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

How do you decide where to turn when western medicine has run out of options? Almost everything available for humans is now available for animals but how do you decide between all the options. There are chiropractors, acupuncturists, reiki practitioners, homeopathic veterinarians, nutritional consultants, hydrotherapy specialists, massage practitioners, and many other options. If you read the internet there are hundreds of supplements made especially for animals and many sound like they work miracles.

Here are a few tips –

  • 1. Get a referral from someone you trust if you can. Many veterinarians will now refer to alternative practitioners. We don’t take their business and we send back happy clients. If your veterinarian cannot offer a referral check with your local pet food store, especially the neighborhood ones, they often have a list of referrals. They also work with animal people all day long so they know the word on the street on who and what has helped. There are also online referral sites such as IVAS and Animal Wellness Network and many sites with reviews of clinics, such as Yelp.
  • 2. If you are exploring the internet for products online check out the forums, such as, catster, and dogster, for suggestions. The companies selling the products will always give you glowing reviews. It is safer to listen to people who have actually used the product. A good veterinarian will also be able to help you determine if a product will help and if it is dangerous for your animal. Always check the safety of a product, especially if your animal is old, sick, or on other medication before using it.
  • 3. Only try one thing at a time and stick with it for at least a month. It is better to do one thing consistently then to jump around. Most natural therapies take time to work. Sometimes If your animal is extremely sick or has cancer you will need to make many changes at once. If you need to do this then working with a veterinary practitioner is highly recommended.
  • Because I practice acupuncture I often recommend it to start because I have seen how well it can work. Often times people start with a therapy for their animal that they have tried themselves and know to work. This is a good place to start. If something works for you, it probably will for your animal also.

    A good practitioner of any sort will be able to tell you how long to try something and when to decide if it is working or not. Most practitioners don’t want to go on treating with a method which is not working. With acupuncture I usually recommend three treatments to see if there is any improvement before recommending animals continue. Some therapies such as hydrotherapy will take a little longer. Always get this information before starting a therapy. And just because you try one thing and it doesn’t work, don’t give up. There are many incredible options out there for helping our animal friends.

    Maggie’s protocol for osteosarcoma

    Thursday, February 26th, 2009

    I just saw a dog with a similar cancer to Maggie’s this morning and wanted to add one more page to Maggie’s story. I hope this is helpful to the folks out there working with the many dogs who suffer from osteosarcoma. Here is the protocol we used to treat Maggie’s cancer. I use a similar protocol for most of the dogs I treat.

    Maggie’s protocol

    Also please see my cancer care page

    • Three treatment of radiation and three treatments of chemotherapy towards the beginning of her illness.
    • Amputation of her affected leg
    • A high quality, grain free homemade diet
    • A supplement called SanSheDan ChuanBei Ye, which helps to keep cancer out of the lungs. In Seattle this can be purchased at Lucky An Dong in the International District. One of my favorite supplements, it is made from apricot seed, fritillary seed, and snake bile. Often called snake oil by my clients, this supplement is very helpful for any lung condition and for keeping cancer out of the lungs.
    • Missing Link supplement to support her body and immune system.
    • After she was done with radiation, Artemisinin a powerful anti-cancer herb. This is a herbal supplement in research right now for treating osteosarcoma in people. It is absorbed by cancer cells (which have a high iron uptake) and produces free radicals which kill the cancer cells. This herb can not be given during radiation therapy or for two months afterwards.
    • Pain medications as needed
    • lots of love!
    • Please remember that every dog is different and that you should find a veterinarian to work with before starting any supplements.

    Incontinence – stoke the blue fire serpent and add a little praying mantis

    Thursday, February 12th, 2009

    Incontinence may not be life threatening but it is sure hard to deal with. Dog diapers are expensive and messy and many dogs are just horrified when they accidentally pee in the house. As much as we love our animal friends it is difficult to always have to worry what they will leak on next.

    The Chinese view of old dog incontinence is fascinating. They see the kidneys as a large black lake with a fiery blue sea serpent that raises out of the water. The fire of the serpent decreases as we age and when it gets low enough the kidneys can no longer hold the urine and it leaks out of the body.

    Deficiency in the kidneys also cause many of the symptoms we view with old age, weaker bone, gray hair and poor hearing.

    When I treat incontinence, I get to be the snake charmer, circling the burning moxa stick over the kidneys to raise the mighty fire serpent out of the lake water.

    With this form of incontinence, the main herb I use is praying mantis egg casings (along with herbs which strengthen the kidneys). These little casings work wonders! I’ve often had clients ask, “can you please make up some more mantis for my dog? She’s been dry since she started them!” In addition I have found that clients like to tell their friends and family that their dog is on praying mantis.

    How many of you have jobs where you get to work with praying mantises and mythical sea serpents?

    So a little about incontinence: there are two main types of urinary incontinence, not related to disease or structural abnormalities, one in young female dogs and one in older dogs.

    I’ve seen a great response with both these conditions to acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatments without the side effects of drugs.

    Old dog incontinence occurs in older dogs of either sex and often develops when the muscles that keep the urine in start getting weaker with age or there is a lack of nerve function to these muscles.

    Incontinence in young female dogs usually develops shortly after they are spayed. This is not a reason to avoid spaying a dog. Unspayed dogs have many more disease problems including mammary cancer and life threatening pyometra.

    Chinese medicine views young dog incontinence as cold that has found its way into the body during the spay operation. Treatments are aimed at warming the kidneys and bladder and expelling the cold. I usually use a heated moxa stick over the kidneys, as with the sea serpent, to chase the cold away and warm this area.

    Out, cold, out!

    The moxa stick lets off infrared heat which penetrates down into the kidneys to warm and increase circulation to that area. In addition warming herbs are used. The goal with these dogs is to cure them so that they do not need long term treatments, herbs, or drugs.

    I love when acupuncture can cure conditions that are not supposed to be curable!

    Acupuncture treatment for strokes

    Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

    The response of stroke patients to acupuncture, both human and animal, is absolutely incredible. Most of the animals I have treated usually recover or at least significantly improve after one or two treatments. And there is almost always improvement in the half hour between when the needles go in and when they come out.

    I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to see an animal recover before your eyes. And all because these little acupuncture needles are stimulating their body to heal itself!

    Yet most people don’t know that there is a good option for treating strokes. Western medicine has almost no answers or treatments for improving stroke symptoms and MDs and DVMs don’t often think to suggest acupuncture. Often even if it is suggested it is not right away and with strokes the less time that has passed the better. If I can see a stroke patient within the first few days I have a much better chance of bringing them back.

    Please pass on this information to anyone with an older dog or cat. And also to those older human family members. You could save a life!

    baijiliJust an interesting side note. The Chinese consider stroke to be a sudden rush of wind to the head which then has a hard time escaping the body and bounces around. One of the main herbs I use for stroke is an herb called Bai Ji Li or caltrop fruit. This herb helps to open up the body so the wind can escape and the body can heal. Check out the shape of the fruit. They are pointed to open up holes for the wind to escape through. I love when you can look at an herb and see it’s function!

    It’s not all cats and dogs

    Saturday, January 31st, 2009

    While lately I have been working with almost exclusively cats and dogs, there was a time when I worked with the very little guys. Unfortunately I haven’t found a good way to do acupuncture on a rat although I have tried a few times. They are just too little.

    I think guinea pigs are also too little to do acupuncture on although I have treated quite a few bunnies.

    I recently did get the pleasure of treating a ferret although it took three of us juggling him and a bottle of ferratone (very addictive liquid ferret food-that is if you are a ferret) to keep the needles in. Boy did the dogs I treated that day enjoy tracing everywhere the ferret had been with their noses!

    I think most of them had never smelled a ferret before!

    Sometimes three legs are better than four

    Sunday, January 11th, 2009

    maggieyoungMaggie tries really hard to be a good guard dog. When you come to the door of her home, you can hear her barking in a strange muffled way, which makes you wonder until the door is opened and you realize she has a teddy bear in her mouth. That being said Maggie loves people and once she meets you she is all smiles, teddy bear or no teddy bear. Maggie has a way of smiling with her eyes that just draws people in.

    When I meet Maggie she had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma or bone cancer in one of her front legs. At the time her family were exploring options to treat her but one thing was almost certain, regardless of treatment, in a year she would no longer be with us. Bone cancer has a very poor prognosis, usually causing death within three months with no treatment and within 6-12 months with aggressive treatment.

    I could tell when I met Maggie’s family how important she was to them. Her family lived in a wonderful older home with one of those grand living rooms and they really liked having photos of those they loved in this space. When I walked in I immediately noticed that there were as many photos of Maggie and the kitties of the household as there were of the human family members. Her family told me how difficult it was for them to have Maggie sick because their previous dog had died of lung cancer and now Maggie also had a cancer that usually spread to the lungs.

    We talked for a long time about the options that were available for Maggie. They had already seen an oncologist and had set up appointments for radiation and chemotherapy but they really were hoping for some way for Maggie to completely beat the cancer.

    I always like to give people hope and tell them that not every animal follows the textbooks and that acupuncture can sometimes dramatically change the course of an illness but at the same time I try to be realistic. I explained that we could probably double Maggie’s time here and make her feel better but that it would be unlikely that we would completely get remission. I remember looking at this beautiful dog so full of life and her family who loved her so much and thinking that it was so tragic that she would not make it to old age.

    As time passed Maggie did not get sick but she did become incredibly painful because of the tumor in her leg. I would show up to treat her and she would no longer get up most of the time. When I looked in her eyes, I saw so much pain. I felt so bad that not even the strongest drugs we had and the acupuncture could keep the pain away for her.

    Amputation became the only option to stop Maggie’s pain but what a difficult decision. I saw her family struggle with the decision of what seemed like a major mutilation of her body to them. Maggie had lived almost a year with the cancer at this point and by everyone’s assessment she was supposed to be gone by now. Was it worth doing an amputation only to have her die a few months later?

    Amputation is one of the hardest decisions for an animal’s human companions to make. So many thoughts go through their mind. Will they still be whole? Will they want to be alive with only three legs? Will they still be able to do the things they love? Will they understand why I did this or hate me for taking away a part of their body?maggie

    One day Maggie got up and when she stepped down on her front leg it broke right in two. The cancer had weakened the bone so much that it could no longer support her weight. At this point it became a much easier decision to make and Maggie had the leg amputated almost immediately.

    With three legs, Maggie may not be able to go for long walks like she used to and the stairs are sometimes hard for her to navigate but Maggie greets each day with a playful spirit and a happiness to be here. She loves to greet neighbors who walk by and many people in the neighborhood know her as the dog that cancer could not take.

    These days I do not treat Maggie as often and our main concern is keeping her legs healthy so she can continue to get around. I feel like coming to treat Maggie is like seeing an old friend.

    She rolls over on her side after the needles are in and I stroke her belly and neck. If I stop for even a moment she lifts her head to look at me with those big eyes, “please don’t stop.” There is a familiarity and a comfort in visiting Maggie and it feels like I have been included in her special family of people who she shares her happiness, love and the journey of her battle with cancer.

    When I stopped by Maggie’s house this week she bounced over to greet me with a tennis ball in her mouth and than run to the other edge of the yard to pick up another one. She raced around with the two tennis balls and a big smile, “look what I can do.” As I walked up to the door she bounced up and down next to me, “mom, look who’s here, look who’s here!”

    It has been almost two years since Maggie lost her leg and close to three since she was diagnosed with cancer. This happy golden retriever with the sparkling brown eyes has beaten the odds.

    2/17/2011 Update. It has been over two years since I wrote this and Maggie is still cancer free and doing well!

    1/18/12 Maggie sadly passed away a couple days ago. She was almost 13 years old and it had been almost six years since her cancer diagnosis. We are all grieving for her, she was very loved. Please visit Maggie Rose a beautiful poem written in honor of Maggie by her human father.

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

    Meditate with me, my furry friend

    Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

    Rudy paused on my partner Adam’s shorts, looked at me and opened up his bladder. I sat in disbelief for a moment, staring at him, and then jumped off the bed screaming, “stop, stop, stop.” I scooped him up as urine dribbled down my leg and onto the floor. He frantically jumped from my arms and raced down the stairs out of sight. I was so frustrated, why did the cat have to pee on everything?

    Ok, so at least the shorts could be washed easily, he had already ruined three meditation cushions, those being his preferred target. For nine years of his life he had never urinated anywhere but in the litter box and then suddenly he was peeing on Adam’s things and most importantly the meditation cushions, leave him alone with one for a minute and it would be ruined.

    We had recently moved to a new house but Rudy really liked the house and the urinating hadn’t started right away. I had also done a whole work up on him and nothing was wrong physically that would cause him to urinate.

    We had a theory that he was objecting to a new meditation practice that Adam was doing but we weren’t certain. Until we figured it out, Adam had stopped doing that practice, but it was something he really wanted to do and had rearranged his schedule in order to have the time for it. As it turned out he had done a few minutes of that practice when Rudy urinated on his shorts. Our theory had been proven correct, the new practice literally scared the piss out of him.

    We often meditate in our household and while this was the most extreme reaction we had seen from one of our cats, it did not surprise me that he had responded so strongly to meditation.

    Our other cat Melody had been very timid when Adam first moved in with us. At the time Adam was starting a meditation practice called Werma, which was about confidence among other things. She loved to go into the meditation space when he was practicing and would sit with him every day. Slowly we saw her change and become much more confidant. She no longer would back down to anything or let anyone push her around. Our cat Ziggy, who used to bother her, would now get an ear boxing and she would chase him out of the room if he upset her. She also would come up to anyone who came in our home and gently tap them on the leg while looking up at them with her big blue eyes until they would give her pets. That confidence has stayed with her even though Adam no longer does that practice regularly.

    In my own work, I treated a beautiful collie dog a couple years ago who would only let me work with her if I would sit and meditate calmly between needles. If I tried to make her sit still against her will she would get sick from the acupuncture and if I followed after her with needles she would only move faster. However if I only put one needle in at a time and sat quietly between needles she would let me treat her. After all the needles were in place, she would only relax if I would sit and meditate. She taught me more about patience than any other being I have worked with.

    My large twenty-pound cat Basil also likes helping with meditation and I have found that on the days I am feeling particularly ungrounded, he will sit in my lap when I meditate. There is nothing to help ground you like twenty pounds of Zen cat.

    I think animals like the calm energy that we create when we meditate, if you have ever been in a meditation center you know how calm and good it feels. That being said some meditation practices that are designed to stir up energy can agitate our furry friends as in Rudy’s case.

    In the end it took a Shamanic journey with a local Shaman back to another place, for him to stop being afraid of Adam’s practice. However that is story which I will share at another time.

    We are always connected to those in our home, including our animals, who pick up on our stress or our calmness and respond to it. Sometimes looking at our animal companion is like looking in a mirror at ourself. My dog Jake is often my emotion detector, if he is stressed often I am and when he is calm I am usually as well.

    Rooney’s wisdom

    Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

    In my dream, she approached me with that sparkle she always had in her eyes. “Come to me and lay beside me and I will take away your fears,” she seemed to say. I lay down with my head against her soft golden fur and pressed deeply into her side feeling protected and safe. I could feel her love and warmth, hear her heart beating, feel how alive she was, yet I knew in the dream that she was ready to become a dog of the stars. I woke up knowing that Rooney had decided it was time to leave this world. Her beloved human companions called me soon after to tell me they thought it was time to let her go.

    While I felt drowning in sorrow, I knew it was the end of a wonderful, miraculous life. Rooney had decided that she could not stay here any longer, this was her choice. Two and a half years earlier she had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and was given at most three months to live. Her human companions had done all they could for her, putting in a port to drain urine out of her body because she could no longer pee through the normal opening, starting her on chemotherapy, and waiting for the day soon that they would have to let her go. Rooney, however, had no intention to follow the prognosis she was given.

    When I first met Rooney she had already been living with cancer for six months. As I approached the house, I saw two happy dogs peering out the window, two dog tails wagging. Syd was the first to greet me, jumping up and down and trying to inhale my arm – I must taste you! Rooney stood back and watched waiting patiently for her dog sister to find her mind again. A beautiful dog, she was part Chow, with long golden hair, a thick mane, and deep brown eyes which if you looked into showed her complex soul.

    Rooney was unique in that she really wasn’t sick. Yes, after her monthly chemo she would feel a little off for a day or two but besides that she was really quite good. She wasn’t dying even though she had a fatal disease, in fact she would get quite upset if you talked about her dying or even about her being sick. I would come to give her acupuncture and we would start to talk about some little problem she was having and she would get up and leave – walk right out of the room and find somewhere else to be. She seemed to say, “Hey, I’m just fine please don’t dwell on my problems. I’m here, I’m me, and I’m not my illness. Love me for who I am today, at this moment. Will you please stop acting like there is something to be sad about here?”

    When Rooney was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she became more free to live. We often said that Rooney had complete control over her cancer: not only did she live every day fully, enjoying her walks and the great love she received from her people, but everyone she touched lived more fully because of her. Every day with her became a gift and we took nothing for granted. When I made my weekly visit to treat Rooney, I never stopped being amazed at the grace of how she lived with her illness, and the joy that she gave to each moment. It was impossible to walk away from Rooney and not feel more present in my own existence.rooneyphotosmall

    Towards the end of her illness, Rooney reached a point where we knew she was dying. She once again lost the ability to urinate on her own, which she had regained shortly after staring her chemo, but to our amazement she started to be more like a puppy, regrowing her hair with a soft downy coat that she had only had when she was young and eating better than she had in a long time. I think Rooney finally accepted she was dying, knowing it before any of us did. It had been important to her to see the new twin children who were born to her people shortly before her death. They had arrived and she was free to go, she had lived over thirteen years, a good age for even a dog without cancer.

    Even though Rooney was completely dependent on her people to drain her urine every 6 hours the last months of her illness, she was happy because she was among her family and at home. She was loved, well cared for but most importantly valued for her wisdom and what she gave to those who loved her. I think a large part of why Rooney was able to work with her illness with such grace and live so much longer than anyone expected was that her human companions did not see her care as a burden but as a gift given to a much-loved friend. In exchange she gave us all unconditional love and the gift of living each moment present and aware, feeling joy, feeling sorrow, seeing the movement of time as something to coast along on and not to fear.

    The phone rang again and it was my best friend Cheryln calling to tell me that her labor had began. I remember eight months earlier finding out that Cheryln was pregnant and offering to be at the birth. For the past month I had been waiting with excitement for this call and now I wanted everything to wait. “Don’t worry the contractions are still far apart,” she told me, “no need to leave yet.” I was conflicted over my promise to her to be present at this birth and my need to be with Rooney at the end, neither could wait and Cheryln was a three hour drive from me. I silently hoped that I would be able to be present with them both and was also astonished that both would come on the same day.

    Somehow it seemed more than coincidence that Rooney would pick the time to pass away to be the same day as the birth of a new life that I was also so involved with. She seemed to want to point out that death is not an end but just another step in the cycle of life we are all a part of. I think this was also why she waited for the twins to be born before choosing to depart.

    Cheryln’s labor did wait, and I was able to be present with Rooney and her family when she passed away. Her death was very peaceful, and she passed away surrounded by her whole family of people and animals – those she loved most and who loved her most – by her side, in her home. While her passing was full of sorrow and left us with a hole in the space that she had filled for so long, there was something about being present when such a wise being leaves this existence, after living life so fully, that inspires us all to live our lives with more joy.

    After returning home from Rooney’s passing, the phone rang again, and it was Cheryln asking me to began my drive down to Portland. I jumped in the car with our other friend, Jenn, who was also to help with the birth. I was overwhelmed with the sorrow I felt about Rooney and the joy and anticipation of a new life about to began. Lilliana’s birth was beautiful and amazing and she came into the world with a good set of lungs, at home surrounded by people who loved her family, the cat and three compassionate naturopaths who helped with the birth. I spend most of the labor holding Mr. Moo, their cat, so he could watch what was happening. He was very fascinated with the whole experience. Mixed with my sorrow there was great joy with the birth of this little perfect being. Ten fingers, ten toes and one very long and active tongue.rooneyphotothree

    I will never forget how it felt to experience the sorrow of the passing of such a wise friend and teacher, who had lived her life how all of us wish we could, and the joy of the perfect birth of a baby who has just began in this world, all within a day. Through my work I have had many great animal teachers who do not speak with words but who guild us through the way they live, love, and accept. Rooney was one of these teachers and I hope that her wisdom on how to live can inspire us all.

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