How Divine Intervention Delivered a Dog Named Spirit.

I’m not quite sure where to start. I mean how exactly do you tell the story of how a deer leads you to a dog, then a cardinal blesses the dog, then your beloved dog who passed away names the new dog, then you see the dog in your dream with that name. What is going on? SPIRIT, that’s what.

Ok, back to the beginning. And I’ll tell you right now you’re going to need to believe in Divine order to believe this story.

It’s taken more than a year for me to even consider getting another dog. My heart just wasn’t ready. The hole left there from missing Emmy’s physical presence was too great.

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My Emmy Girl passed in Feb 2017.

IF we were to get another dog, it absolutely could not be a Golden Retriever. I just can’t do it. Except Emmy, and what I can only believe is God, had other plans.

Never Say Never.

We’ve been looking at dogs for a few months. We’ve brought several home for meet and greets with Miss Lola. And it just wasn’t clicking. Nothing felt right.

So, I declared I was done looking. If we were supposed to have another dog, it would find us. There. It’s decided.

Here comes Divine intervention. 

Two weeks later, on June 27, my wife Cindy and I headed out on our morning walk. Just as we got to the end of our driveway, was this sweet girl. It occurred to me at the time .. “that looks like a Red deer.” This is important for later in the story, so remember the red deer.

You should also know that I believe in Spirit animals and that the deer is mine. I usually feel them before I see them. Here’s what it means when a deer crosses your path.

deer totemThat will also be important later in story.

When we finished our 2 mile walk, this deer was right next to our front porch! Different deer, this one smaller and more blonde in color.

About two hours later, I get this text on my phone from my dear friend Nancy Seymour.

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That dog is the color of the Red Deer and the 2nd Deer is the color of my Emmy. Do you see it?

By now, you’re either thinking I’m a moonchild crazy person or you’re still reading.

So we meet the dog. We learn she’s just 9 days into foster care rescued from a hoarding situation in Harnett County where her owner thought aliens were coming to take her dogs so she hid them under floor boards of the house! She’s super skittish. Doesn’t want to be touched or approached, won’t make eye contact. Within two hours, she has walked with us, explored the backyard with Lola and entered the house.

Where does she go first? Right to Emmy. And she won’t leave her. She circles the coffee table and goes right back to that spot. Stands under the kitchen table then right back to this spot. Over and over.

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I move over and sit on the hearth. She gets up and walks past me, pausing to let me rub my hand down her back, the first time she’s let us touch her, and clear as day I hear the word “SPIRIT.”

It. Took. My. Breath. Clearly, no one else heard it because they aren’t saying anything about what just happened! I don’t say a word. We make arrangements for the dog to come back on Saturday and they leave.

That night I wake up four times. Each time I see….

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The dog’s face. The word Spirit. Flashing. Four times in the night. Seriously. This is getting very bizarre!

We pick her up on Saturday. Get her to the house and she bolts into the living room, right back to the spot under Emmy’s painting. We spend the day building trust. You can tell she wants to be close to us but she’s fearful. Two days ago she wouldn’t make eye contact. As the hours pass she is staring deep into us. Midday, we’re all in the living room on the floor and she lets me lay next to her on the floor. We all fall asleep. When I wake up there’s a cardinal on the back of the swing staring in the window at us from the front porch.

You guessed it. There’s a cardinal connection in this story. When Emmy passed, I was holding her on the front porch with all her family around her. We said goodbye and a cardinal flew and landed on the swing. In the days and weeks and months since, I see them everywhere. They fly across my path when I’m riding. They land on my car in traffic. They sit on the window sill when I’m at the sink. I have believed the cardinal is a wink from Emmy. And so .. there she was .. another signal in this story!

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BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

After spending the day and all these “messages,” we decide this is supposed to be our dog. It’s about 10:15pm and we call the foster to tell her we’ve decided to adopt the dog. My friend Nancy — who connected us to her in the first place — is there with me on the front porch. We’re talking about all these not-so-random things that have happened.

Cindy comes out and says “the dogs are going crazy, what’s going on in the side yard?”

Me: “Nothing. We’re just talking maybe they hear us.”

Nancy walks to her car that’s parked out on the street. I go back in the house and she sends me this text:

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MEET SPIRIT: 18month old Golden Retriever/Border Collie Mix

I’m 100% sure the spirit of my Emmygirl was orchestrating all this, and that Divine Spirit orders things just as they should go, and our new family member will be a constant reminder that Emmy’s spirit is always close by and Divine spirit is always at work.

And what about Lola? She’s got her happy face back.

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Official Adoption Photo: July 7, 2018

We did a 3-day juice fast and here’s what happened.

IMG_1633So first, everyone should do this so you know what it feels like to have hunger. And then imagine living that way all the time. Trust me, you will look at hunger differently.

WHY DO IT?

I wanted to see if a 3-day fast could reduce inflammation in my body and jumpstart healing on a hand injury from 5 months ago. Cindy felt swollen and wanted to reset her digestive system. We both had about five (newlywed :-)) pounds hanging around.

THE PARTICULARS:

We used Raleigh Raw’s 3-day Juicing Cleanse.  Six juices a day. No solid food. Sit down. It’s pricey, way more than we would spend for both of us for 3 days worth of food.

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From the Raleigh Raw site: Introduce Juice. An excellent introduction to juicing and just enough time to begin to feel the benefits of detoxification.
+ Includes 3 Green juices, 2 Root juices, and 1 Nut Milk juice per day

I will tell you right now that nut milk juice is the nectar of the Gods. It’s DESSERT, I tell ya, especially after drinking greens, carrots and beets all day. By day two, I was living for The Cash Bah.

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This is the last juice each day.

HOW DOES IT WORK? DRINK EVERY TWO HOURS.

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A day’s worth of juice. Packed with nutrients, vegetables and anti-inflammatory wonderfulness. A few of them are an acquired taste!

Weigh before you start – naked and in the morning. You will be drinking every two hours so set your timer. Back time yourself so you can have your last drink before 8pm. Plan to stay busy and to potty — a lot. After day one, I’m thinking this has to be working. There isn’t much going in and there’s a lot moving out. (Don’t think of this like a colonoscopy cleanse! It’s not.)

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HOW DID WE FEEL?

Day 1: This is going to be a mental challenge as well as physical. But we’re in this thing and crushing it! A little hungry but the two hours went by quickly at work and the Cash Bah at the end of the evening was DIVINE. Pretty sure I heard angels singing after the first few swallows! We both slept well, which is a change.

Learnings: Stay busy. Drink water or hot water with lemon between juices.

Day 2: We both weigh in and are very surprised by our day one results! We have our morning juices, and go to a flow yoga class. Cindy’s feeling sluggish and headachy (and a little hangry if I’m honest.) I had more mental challenges than physical. I was very present to being HUNGRY. It was Saturday and we weren’t nearly busy enough to distract us from wanting to eat. A great way to realize how much mindless eating happens. So we went and got a pedicure. Let’s go all in on this self-care weekend.

Learnings: We realized early on that we made a strategic error by scheduling our first fast over the weekend. What were we thinking? Day one was much easier because we were busy at work! Saturday and Sunday were V E R Y long. I considered re-roofing the house so I wouldn’t think about breakfast, lunch and dinner. Someone told us to chew while we drank to trigger that eating sensation in our body/mind. Not sure if it worked but we are now employing all the tricks we can.

Day 3:

OMG. I honestly can’t believe we made it to day 3 without eating. I felt pretty good most of the day. We were busier today so the mental challenge was less. Cindy’s less headachy but still feels a little lethargic. We surmise her caffeine habit is the culprit! This is doable and we’re almost there.

Learnings: Drink each 17oz. juice slowly to make it last. Savor and think about the freshness you’re putting in your body. Notice how your joints feel and whether you notice a difference in being bloated or gassy.

THE RESULTS:

You’ll remember my main intention in doing a juicing fast was to reduce inflammation. The before and during photos here tell the story I was looking for!

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Couldn’t fully close hand after weekly occupational therapy for 5 months.

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Day 2 of the Juice: Middle finger touching palm for the first time!

I really do believe my assertion that inflammation was a key barrier to healing was proven. While my hand isn’t “fixed,” I can’t wait to show my doctor and physical therapist this week.

THE ANSWER YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW.

Did we lose weight? YES. Cindy lost 4.6 pounds and I lost 3.2…in 3 days. The question is, will we put it right back on when we go back to our regular eating?

That’s for the next blogpost.

THE BOTTOM LINE.

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The thrill of making it to juice #18!

We would do it again, and we might just make it part of our health routine every three months or so.

 

 

Kicking cancer’s tail: The Superfood Dog Diet

So many people have asked me how my 12-year old dog, Emmy, is whipping cancer. She’s  transformed over the last four weeks. Here’s how we’re doing it.

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After a kidney cancer diagnosis, and a less than one year survival prognosis — if we removed the kidney and followed with chemo — we decided to fight it with science and nutrition. The goal, no suffering, and good, happy days for as long as possible. So far, we’re winning.

At diagnosis (4/12/16), Emmy had periodic vomiting, very little appetite, and lethargy. She was losing weight, was disengaged and mostly wanted to be alone, which is very unusual for my girl. I knew she didn’t feel good. Was she leaving? My first goal was to see if I could get her eating again.

The day after diagnosis I changed her diet from Simple Formula Wellness dog food (which I believe to be a high quality food) to an all human diet plus a superfood supplement. We started with scrambled eggs cooked in a tiny bit of coconut oil. She went for it.

My friend and animal healer, Nancy Seymour, inventor of the superfood supplement I’m using, is using her years of nutrition experience and guiding me every step of the way.

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“We just want her infused with clean, healthy, easily digested food to not tax kidneys.  My supplement will boost her immune system. We can build on that.” – Nancy

We started with foods that fight inflammation and are high in anti-oxidents: sweet potatoes, blueberries, pumpkin, coconut oil. I blend them in the Vitamix so they’re super easy for her to eat and digest. Each day we added new foods: Greek yogurt, butternut squash, green beans. Smaller meals, more often. Each meal, I add the Shining Star Pets supplement (dosage by weight).

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What’s in it?  My well dog, Lola, also loves it!

“It’s all chemistry and nutrition fueling her immune system. Appetite and poop are important to us. We tweak… She eats.” – Nancy

Her appetite immediately improved, but she was losing weight, down to 52 pounds. So we increased the carbs. I alternate oatmeal and brown rice at meals, always sweet potatoes, plus a small amount of protein. A snack can be cottage cheese mixed with canned pumpkin. Peanut butter on mashed banana. I make greek yogurt blueberry pops as a superfood treat. We limit the protein to no more than 20% of her diet so we don’t tax the kidneys. Anything that isn’t processed (meaning — you can see it in her poop!), I put in the blender. Easier to eat, easier for her body to digest. Every nutrient of the food is used by her system.

To be clear, this isn’t a table scraps diet. It’s a low salt, good oils (coconut and olive), good fats, good carbs and a controlled amount of protein. It took me about a week to get the hang of it.

Our results so far: She’s jumping up and down when it’s time to eat. She rolls around in the backyard. We walk 2-3 times a day.

That doesn’t look like a dog that’s dying to me. The cancer is still there, but she isn’t suffering. She’s happy, engaged and making the most of every day.

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It makes me think, if we can transform a dog with cancer in just a few weeks using whole foods and nutritional supplementation, shouldn’t we be considering that option for people in the same predicament?

Have you ever tried a whole foods diet with your dog? Would love to hear about it.

Golden Retriever kicking cancer’s tail

I knew. She’s been my girl since she was 12 weeks old. She’s survived it twice. I could see it in her eyes and feel it in her presence. I knew the darkness was back.

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Tubular adenocarcinoma of the kidney.

DAMNIT.

At 12 years old, my Emmydog has already outlived the statistics. Beating mast cell cancer two times. Losing her spleen. Battling arthritis like a prizefighter. The thought of putting her through radical surgery to remove the kidney and tumor was gut wrenching. The alternative…unthinkable.

Tears. A LOT of tears.

Was she in too much pain already? She’s not eating much at all and is pulling away into the backyard and away from her people. This.can.not.be.happening.

My dear friend Nancy Seymour quickly devised a nutrition plan to see if we could get Emmy eating again.  We took her off dog food and put her on a vegetarian whole food diet and the superfood supplement Nancy invented. (Seriously, read Nancy’s story here!)

BAM. In a day, she’s eating again! And in ten days… THIS!

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She’s like a different dog. She’s jumping up and down at feeding time. She’s running some in the backyard. Playing with her toys. Happy.

That’s all I want for her. As many happy moments as possible.

We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, remember ShiningStarPets.com.  It’s a revolutionary product and it’s going to take the world by storm. And my Emmy will be part of its legacy.

 

 

10 Favorite Gluten Free Products

A “bad stomach” was one of the most memorable things in my childhood. I’ve been tested for celiac and while I don’t have it, I so obviously feel better when I don’t eat it. Changing my diet changed my life. It’s not as hard as it used to be to go gluten free. Here are 10 of my favorite products to get you started.

10. Trader Joe’s Quinoa Pasta: Since becoming gluten free five years ago, I’ve learned to love quinoa. This is the best pasta I’ve found. The texture is like regular pasta. Be careful not to overcook! It’ll taste like rubber fishing worms. OK, that might be a little strong. Bottom line, cook it right and it’s good. I haven’t found ANY gluten free pasta that’s good as leftovers so only cook what you’re going to eat in a sitting.

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9. Kikkoman Wheat Free Soy Sauce: Yes, you can eat stir fry veggies again! Cook with it for great flavor.

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8. Blue Diamond Nut Thins: Light, airy, flavorful. I love them with peanut butter or as a scooper with hummus.

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7. Glutino Crackers: A little denser than Blue Diamond. More substantial.

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6. Udi’s Bagels: Only when smothered with butter and toasted! Seriously. You can’t gag them down without it.

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5. Rudi’s Gluten Free Tortilla: Best when lightly toasted in a toaster oven! Keep in the refrigerator.

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4. Kinnikinnin Pizza Crust: Load them up with your favorite toppings, cook them right on the grate in the oven right out of the freezer. Salty, good texture.

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3. Three Bakers 7 Grain Bread: I’ve searched for more than 5 years for good gluten free bread. THIS.IS.IT. Moist. Great flavor. Not heavy and dense like most GF breads. Toast it for best taste! Best found online or at specialty stores. Downside: super expensive.

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2. Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking Mix: You can make anything with this stuff. Pancakes, muffins, cobbler. Great flavor, great texture. Your friends will never know.

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1. Trader Joe’s Soft-baked Snickerdoodle Cookies: I could seriously eat the whole box in one sitting. Hands down, the best gluten free guilty pleasure of all.

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What are your favorite gluten free products?