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.

IMG_1431

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.

IMG_8E56464C7E91-1

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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….

giphy1

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!

img_7276.jpg

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:

IMG_919D457DA3B3-1IMG_F9EC99599737-1

FullSizeRender 2

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.

IMG_3273Processed with MOLDIV

IMG_3316

Official Adoption Photo: July 7, 2018

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.

Processed with MOLDIV

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.

nancy_grande

“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).

supplement.png

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.

IMG_8999

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.

IMG_8627

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!

Processed with MOLDIV

Processed with MOLDIV

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.

 

 

Life Lessons from a Pit Bull

Pit bulls are the poster children for discrimination. They’re mean. They’ll rip your face off. They’re fighters. 

Two months ago, we adopted Lola, an American Staffordshire Bull Terrior, otherwise known as a Blue Staffy Bull. Judgment started when we started telling our family and friends we were considering adopting a “pit bull.”

What? Why in the world would you want that kind of dog? Aren’t you scared of it? Won’t it kill Emmy (our Golden Retriever?)

We felt the discrimination from a neighbor, who had always been friendly towards our Golden, who threatened to poison our dogs if they did their business in his yard. Coincidence?

We felt the breath-holding gasp when we took her into the vet waiting room the first time. I could feel the “Uh-oh pit in the house. Be careful!”  stares.

Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap. They used to be known as the “Nanny dog” for their gentleness with children. Credible canine organizations call them “eager to please, faithful and enthusiastic friends.” Yet, people are afraid of them. Somewhere along the way, gangs, dog fighters and thugs chose the pit bull as their dog of choice, and danger and fear replaced adoration of the bull.

Are some dogs just inherently “bad?” Consider a dog whose ears were butchered with kitchen scissors, presumably to make her look mean, a dog who was used as a breeder for 4-5 litters of puppies in three years, a dog who was then discarded…THAT dog, the one found emaciated, with broken ribs and a broken shoulder…THAT dog is the sweetest, most trusting, loving, snuggle muffin dog I’ve ever met. Are pits inherently mean? I think not. 

Snuggle muffin

Lola changes hearts and minds everywhere we go. Starting with mine. I wasn’t totally for this adoption in the beginning. Not because she was a pit bull, necessarily, though it did give me pause. I had an 11-year old “only dog” I’d had since she was weeks old. How would she adapt? Would she welcome another dog?

IMG_2938 Processed with Moldiv

To learn about the breed, I started watching Pit Bulls & Parolees on Animal Planet. Host Tia Torres is a force of nature. She says she rescues pits and people, and is on a mission to change the perception of the world’s most misunderstood breed of dog. While she’s at it, she’s giving both people and dogs a second chance. Tia’s tattooed, pierced and hard looking family and her parolees began to soften my heart. I started noticing my unspoken fears and judgment, and I completely changed my mind about these dogs and the people saving them.  I opened my heart and Lola came right on in.

Pit bulls, like people, can be trained to be mean. Like people, they can learn bad habits. But what if they, like people, are born wonderful, loving, trusting souls? What if those inherent qualities are there no matter what’s happened to them? What if they’re here to teach us these life lessons? Our Blue Staffy Bull has done just that. Lola has rocked my world in the best possible way.