Monday, May 14, 2012

lessons that we could learn from my dog

Spenser seemed to feel less-than-perfect after we got home from our trip.  He's getting "up there" in years (i think he's 12), and he met quite a few challenges, including four days of riding in his "box" in the car, and suffering a flea invasion.

This morning, though, he's showing signs of getting back to normal -- thank heavens!  It's darned hard to treat him for anything unpleasant or uncomfortable because he has a "sharp end."  Obviously he had an unhappy puppyhood and when my daughter adopted him from a pet-rescue organization, he exhibited a number of strong self-defense reflexes.  I can fool him into getting a bath (because he doesn't really mind the process, just the anticipation), but to clean his ears or cut off a mat or trim toenails, my husband has to hold him firmly in his arms while i do the operation.  However, he LOVES brushies.

On our regular visits to the vet, Spense used to have to get his anal gland expressed every time.  If you're not familiar with it, it's a rather unpleasant thought:  this is a scent-gland inside the dog's rectum, which leaves behind an olfactory record so other animals know who's been around.  If living in a natural fashion, the gland works without a hitch, oozing a little material in every poop and never clogging.  Pet dogs, though, do NOT live in a natural fashion, nor do they eat a natural canine diet.  Even the higher-priced "scientifically" formulated dogfoods usually contain large amounts of grains -- cheap fillers -- as the bulk ingredient.  This stuff does horrible things to a dog's insides.

Dogs, though omnivorous, are not designed to eat grains.  The only animals actually DESIGNED to eat grains are birds and rodents:  not humans, and certainly not dogs.  Conventional dogfood, even the kind they sell through veterinarians, might as well be formulated to mess up his digestive tract, wreck his teeth, make him fat and diabetic, and yes -- clog his anal gland.  I won't describe the process of unclogging it; some of my readers may like to look at my blog on their lunch-hours....

A few years ago when i discovered the more appropriate ancestral diet for humans, i also heard about a similar diet for dogs.  (I think it might have been on Mark's Daily Apple -- give the man credit for intelligently dealing with all conceivable subjects within his intellectual purlieu, despite the inanity of some of his commenters.)  I first considered providing Spenser with a raw diet, but decided that if anyone else would be feeding him (and that was inevitable) it would be more problematic, and therefore went on a hunt for an acceptable kibble.  Finally deciding on Taste of the Wild, i never looked back.  He loves the stuff, every flavor they make.  He lost his chubbiness, is less itchy, stays cleaner, maintains whiter teeth ... and no longer has anal-gland issues!

All the stupid pointless diet studies that are currently carried out with rodents would more appropriately (and applicably) be done with dogs.  Mice, it has been pointed out, are not small furry humans -- the wild ones do not choose a diet similar to that of primitive people, among other things.  And humans (with some notable exceptions) are not large rats, either.  Canines, however, are omnivores who thrive on raw meat -- just like we do.  NOT that i would advocate treating dogs as badly as laboratory rodents are -- i'm outraged that experimenters feel all right about stressing the little things to death!  But it's less a stretch of the fitness of things that what applies to a dog is comparable in a human.

So, what Spense teaches me in his indirect fashion includes this:  the foods we eat have repercussions WAY beyond merely satisfying our tastebuds and bellies, beyond weight issues, beyond intestinal comfort issues, beyond skin and dental condition.  Of course he also teaches me things about personal boundaries, and that there's no such thing as too many walkies.


  1. My dog had frequent anal gland problems until I started giving her liver and a magnesium pill once a week. I even wrote a post about it:

  2. i'll have to read it -- thanks! :-) it's amazing how much more comfortable we all are, when we're properly nourished!

  3. Oops--I meant I give her a Mg pill (100 mg) every day.