Sunday, July 22, 2007

Call of the Wild

I’ve been busy this week revamping the greeting cards section of my Animal Art & Gifts site. Greeting cards are now available as single cards at only $3.49, making it easier to mix and match rather than having to purchase a group of the same design! This means you can stock up on the great series which focus on shamanism, cats as urban tigers, joyful and expressive dogs, and many other images promoting our connection to the natural world.

Even better, there’s a new greeting card available featuring the art of Robert Blehert in the form of an incredible impressionist-style painting of a wolf.

Robert is a friend of mine, and he had been working on some paintings for the recent fund-raising auction for the local Seattle Woodland Park Zoo. When he sent me an advance image of the wolf I fell in love with it and asked his permission to add it to my greeting cards (the wolf is also available as a journal). In addition to the wolf image I also carry Robert's gorgeous "Cat Think" painting as a greeting card, ornament and magnet.

If you would like to see more of Robert’s Blehert's paintings you can visit his website.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gracie the Cat Star

Yesterday I paid a visit to Alki Art and Gifts. Located several doors down from me, just off Alki Avenue, they feature gifts by local artists and I wanted to see if they would be interested in featuring some of my animal art from my online store.

When I mentioned to the woman in charge that I lived on the same street she immediately asked, "Oh, do you know Gracie the cat?" I smiled and shared that I lived across the street from her, and that Gracie's story had actually inaugurated my blog. After some discussion of Gracie's wonderful nature she requested my blog address so that she could read about her. I was happy to supply same and left after obtaining the information that I could talk to the owner the following day regarding my gift art.

When I returned to the store the owner, Alina, startled me by telling me that Gracie often came in and entertained the customers! My goodness, that cat gets around! I have seen her at every BBQ and yard sale on the street, checking things out and chatting with everyone who passes. If Gracie were the gossiping type I imagine she could tell stories about all the neighbors, but fortunately she is an affectionate soul who wants nothing more than some loving attention.

So, I guess I'm famous because I live across the street from Gracie, the neighborhood icon. Perhaps I can get a testimonial from her for my healing services (see previous post Gracie the Cat and Fireworks). I can be healer to the cat stars (-:

Friday, July 13, 2007

After the Pet Food Recall:
Why natural is the way to go

For years I thought I fed my companion animals a good compromise diet. Neither expensive and “boutique” or bargain basement “supermarket.” A good quality, middle of the road compromise. I resisted any efforts or education to examine higher quality foods or raw food diets, which I thought excessive, costly, and time consuming. And one of my cats paid the price for that decision. He threw up daily, and had never really did well from the time I brought him home as a little black and white kitten. He was always very slender and almost frail looking. I thought it was his breeding, part Siamese, or just a weak stomach. Boy, was I wrong.

When I moved from the East coast to Seattle I was no longer able to obtain the same brand I had been feeding, and was forced to consider other options. So, I changed the diet of all my animals, and was stunned by the results for EVERYONE. Shaman stopped throwing up as soon as I changed the food. Within a month all of my animals’ (dog and cats) coats became silky and glossy, and Shaman finally filled out to average rather than skeletal. All because I changed their food. That simple. (Shaman, now 15 years young, appears in the photo.)

Is your dog or cat’s fur dry or dull looking?
Do they have dandruff?
Need to be bathed frequently?
Does your cat or dog scratch constantly? Groom excessively?
Have they created “hot spots,” (open wounds from licking)?
Does an area of their body feel hot to the touch?
Are they hyperactive/have difficulty relaxing?
Do they have seizures?
Do they exhibit strange behaviors, such as dirt eating or ingestion of foreign objects?
Are they obsessed with food?
Will they only eat one brand of food?

If the answer to any one of these is "yes," you need to consider changing their diet because chances are food may be causing the behavior. Even if they are not exhibiting any of the above you should still read up on pet foods because what you learn could not only lengthen the lifespan of your companion, but lower your vet bills and give your pet a brand new healthy look.

If you buy your food at the supermarket, discount outlet, or even your vet (most vets receive no training on nutrition in school, and base their food recommendations on the reps of the pet food companies) there is a good chance that you are not giving your loved companion a diet that will help them stay physically healthy and emotionally balanced. The reality and bottom line are that not all pet foods are created even remotely equal. It is true that you get what you pay for. Think about it, how can a food contain plump, juicy chicken and prime cuts of beef and still cost only $4 for a 5 lb. bag? Our companions are carnivores and there is no way that you can buy a prime cut of meat for less than $1 a pound.

So, what else is in a bag of dog or cat food that makes up the rest of that weight? Fillers. Wheat, soy, corn, peanut hulls, and possibly even the sweepings off of the factory floor. Little of which would ever be in your pet’s diet in the wild. Think wholesome and natural and choose accordingly. Think, “What do wolves eat? Cougars?” Do either of these animals eat grains? No. Many companion animals who exhibit itchy, scratchy behaviors have allergies to ingredients they would not normally encounter in nature. Our dogs and cats do best on diets that use high quality animal sources for protein, not plants.

Then there are the additives and chemical preservatives, some of which can be addictive, resulting in the animal desiring only that one food brand—other agents, such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin, are potential carcinogens.

Now for the stunner, unlike human food there are no regulations governing where the protein sources in your pet’s food come from. This means that the meat in your food can come from downer animals (which can have any number of health problems) and that have been euthanized by lethal injection. Those drugs are NOT destroyed during the processing and hence go directly into your pet’s body. It also means that all the leftover parts that we don’t eat, such as hooves, feathers, beaks, horn, etc. can legally be added to your pet’s food, and are included in the label under “Chicken By-Products, Poultry By-Product Meal, or Meat and Bone Meal.” There’s nothing wrong with these animal parts, they just do not constitute a good, high quality protein source. The manufacturers are required to gauge the percentage of protein in the food, but are not required to disclose or consider the protein sources.

A little known fact is that three of the five major pet food companies in the U.S. are subsidiaries of major multinational companies, for example Nestle (Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, and Ralston Purina products such as Dog Chow, ProPlan, and Purina One). What this means is that multinational companies that create human food products have a secondary market for all of their waste products; those by-products that are deemed not fit for human consumption.

What can you do? Research on the internet is a very good place to begin. One excellent site is maintained by the Animal Protection Institute. In addition to clear information about what is in your pet foods they also have a list of suggestions and further reading lists.

Seek out non-chain, natural pet food stores and ask questions. Most of the time the staff are quite well educated as to what is in the food they sell and which one might best fit your dog or cat’s individual needs. Evaluate raw, natural food diets, or consider adding some natural foods to a high quality kibble (dry food) diet. There are many excellent options to fit your lifestyle and comfort zone.

If you are changing over to a new food what you are looking for is one that contains human grade quality ingredients, with whole chicken or chicken meal (for example) listed first on the label. Also note that while higher quality food will cost more per pound than a lesser quality food you will actually have to feed less of the quality food because it contains more nutrition per pound.

If you do decide to change your animal’s food do so gradually, say over the course of a week. Add more and more of the new food and less of the old. Because of the addictive nature of some foods your companion may resist the change at first and will undergo a gradual detoxification process which is what happened with my own dog when I first adopted him. He had been used to a very cheap, poor quality “supermarket” brand and would not eat the higher quality food at first. Be persistent, your companion will not allow themselves to starve to death no matter how much they may dramatize! Please note that not every food, no matter how high the quality, is right for every animal. Some do better on one food than another. If diarrhea results from the changeover, it may be due to the detoxification process or your companion may do better on another food with a different protein source—chicken, lamb, turkey, buffalo, salmon, etc.

Here are a few quality foods to research: Canidae, Merrick, Solid Gold, Wellness, Wysong, Precise, Newman's Own, Pet Guard, Innova, Origen, Timberwolf Organics (see Nutrition Resources on my Wild Reiki & Shamanic Healing website for listings and sources). (Addition: please note that due to the massive and tragic pet food recall it would be wise to check out sites such as Little Big Cat for the latest information before buying.)

So, let what you feed your animal be the first line of defense in helping your companion lead a long and happy life. You’ll be amazed at the difference and they’ll love you for it.

©Rose De Dan 2004, updated 2007. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 9, 2007

got reiki?

A three year-old brightened my day recently.

His father is my Japanese-style acupuncturist, and is also the person who created the beautiful old style calligraphy of the Reiki kanji for my Reiki store and practice. As a thank you I gave him a t-shirt for his son, Ryan. On the front it says got reiki? and on the back is the kanji.

Ryan’s mother shared with me that he is going through a stage where he like to wear t-shirts with words on them, such as “Superman” and “Spiderman” so that he can say what is printed there. One morning he chose my “got reiki?” t-shirt and when his mother asked him what it said, he enthusiastically exclaimed, “Rose!”

Now that’s what I call brand identification! So, need reiki? Think of me (-:

Friday, July 6, 2007

Gracie the Cat and Fireworks

Gracie is a little grey tabby & white female cat who lives across the street from me, and is considered the neighborhood greeter. She is friendly with everyone who walks down the street, and despite the fact that she is wearing a collar I have had to come to her rescue several times to prevent her being carried off by well-meaning people who thought she was lost.

She has figured out what I do, and when Gracie is not feeling well she will march across the street and demand some energy healing from me. Every time that has happened I have had to let her person know that she needs a vet visit, and each time she has required medical attention in addition to Reiki and shamanic healing. Her person was kind enough to gift me at Christmas with a gift certificate as thanks for Gracie's impromptu sessions.

Very affectionate and appreciative when she receives Reiki, Gracie purrs, kneads, and often positions herself in my arms like a baby, belly uppermost, and then she gets this incredibly blissed-out look on her face, and sticks her tongue out. If she is really transported, she drools. Of course every time she does this my arms are too full to take a picture!

Yesterday, first thing in the morning, Gracie met me at my front door. She was crying and asking to be picked up. When I obliged she immediately snuggled into my neck, tucked her head in tight under my chin, placed her front paws delicately on top of both of my collarbones and then began to knead, gently shredding my skin. Although she purred with pleasure, her mental voice tone was complaining and frightened. She told me all about how awful the fireworks were the night before and how scared she was. It was not physical healing she needed this time, but emotional. So as I used Reiki for emotional/spiritual healing I also rocked her from side to side as you would a child who was scared of the monsters. It was truly heart-breaking, and gave me deeper insight than ever before into how traumatic our celebrations can be for animals.

I think this time when I tell Gracie's person about her visit I may recommend a crystal essence mist by Vi Miere called Panic Ease that I use with my clients' animals who have fear issues around thunderstorms, fireworks, and other scary things. I will suggest that her person use the mist for three weeks, misting 3-4 times daily above Gracie so that the spritz falls like a mist down on her and her energy field, and then use the mist as needed particularly around challenging times such as the 4th of July and New Year's Eve.

I am happy to report that when I finally put Gracie down she marched off with her tail in her usual self-confident and upright position. I love a satisfied customer!