Does my horse have hoof pain?

September 16th, 2009

Why don’t horses tell animal communicators their feet hurt?

Remember the Pet Psychic, Sonya Fitzpatrick, on Animal Planet? I used to enjoy that show, especially when she talked to horses which are my passion. One thing I never understood, though, is why the horses didn’t complain about their feet.

At the time I was studying natural hoof care so was really tuned into it. I could see that many of the horses she talked to had issues with their feet of the sort that would normally be painful. So why didn’t they tell her so she could alert the owners?

That mystery was finally solved when I became an animal communicator and started talking to horses. Talk about an enlightening experience! What I have come to understand has been positively mind boggling.

• Many horses are very stoic and not given to complaining. Their desire to please their owner supersedes pain.

• Lameness is very common in a large percentage of horses. Often they are given pain killers or nerve blocks so that they can continue performing. With these remedies the pain is masked although they are still lame.

• Many horses believe that painful feet are a normal condition so it wouldn’t occur to them to complain.

Toro, a very stoic horse

Toro, a very stoic horse

Little wonder that horses weren’t volunteering comments about their feet when they considered themselves normal.

Animal communication can be a valuable tool in finding and/or confirming pain in our horses, but we have to ask the right questions. Sometimes with very stoic horses we have to really probe as they are extremely reluctant to complain. I’ve communicated with horses who denied pain because they were afraid of what might happen to them. Others denied it because they didn’t wish to burden their caretaker. It’s amazing the justifications they can come up with, to their own detriment.

Some horses are so convinced that pain (or a physical condition) is normal that they are resistant to healing treatments. More than once during a communication consultation I have found myself explaining to the horse that it certainly is not normal and it is safe and desirable that they allow themselves to heal. Once they understand this concept, they very often begin showing improvement in short order.

Sometimes it can take more than one consultation to help the horse accept truth and consequently healing. This is when animal communicators need to be part therapist. Horses have complicated psyches!

It’s a toxic world, especially for our pets.

September 10th, 2009

Toxins surround us to the point that it is nearly impossible to avoid them. Even those fillings we got as kids are toxic, leaching into our systems causing who knows what damage. Our water is so toxic that we buy bottled water hoping it’s pure, but that’s not necessarily true either.

I try to avoid toxins as much as possible and that practice carries over to my pets. As is so often the case, this enlightened attitude came about as a result of life with my four-legged friends.

My beautiful mare, Misty, developed vaccinosis after just a few years at a boarding barn that required semi-annual 7-way vaccinations. It began as an elevated temperature accompanied by swelling at the injection site. Each successive round of vaccinations brought with it a worse reaction until she developed a full-blown case of laminitis.

During this time I was diligently researching options trying to find an acceptable alternative to meet with the barn owner’s approval. (Moving wasn’t an option at that point.) Finally I found my own vet who concurred with my assessment that it was vaccinosis and prescribed no more vaccinations ever for this mare.

With that battle behind us, I expanded my research into detoxing and better nutritional alternatives to the junk food typically served at barns. It took six months to bring Misty back to health from that last set of shots, but we got there. Thankfully it wasn’t long after that I was able to purchase my own place and bring her home, safe at last from the dangerous, out-dated, ideas of that barn, no matter how well meaning.

I was reminded of this episode recently when I read the account of a beautiful, standard poodle who died horribly, painfully, after being sprayed with weed spray. From what her owner was able to piece together, she approached the fence, probably barking, to protect her puppies who were all playing in their private yard. The person spraying turned the spray directly on her in an act of incredible cruelty and stupidity. Unfortunately this part of the story was only pieced together after the fact and after her suffering had ended. It’s unlikely she could have been saved, even with immediate treatment, as those powerful toxins were inhaled and absorbed through her skin to begin their destructive work on her entire system.

RIP beautiful girl

RIP beautiful girl

Would this person have sprayed the dog in the face had he known it would kill her? Perhaps, but I’d like to think he would have made a better choice had he been educated on the dangers of the toxins he held in his hands.

Shortly after hearing this story, I came across a post from Dr. Mercola’s site about summer time dangers to our pets. While a bit late in the season, the information is still valid and worth sharing. I hope you’ll take a moment to read and educate yourselves and please spread the word. You just might save a life.

Blessings to you dear pet lovers.

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To eat or not to eat…meat. Do animals know that we eat them?

September 3rd, 2009

Recently I wrote about animals being sentient beings. In my experience they most certainly are, so I see nothing wrong with anthropomorphizing. However, I have never applied that principle to eating meat.

One day I was reading a post by a fellow communicator, Do Animal Communicators Eat Meat?, discussing this very topic. Her conclusions gave me pause.

Growing up on a farm it was accepted that certain animals would be eaten. It was simply the cycle of life, and their purpose for being. The animals had a good life and when it was their time, it ended. After reading the aforementioned post I started to think about anthropomorphizing in regards to livestock.

Do the animals know that we eat them? If they do, how do they feel about it? I already had some opinions on the subject but decided to take my questions to the animals. Here is what they had to say:

Of course we know that certain of our species are intended for human consumption. If we choose to incarnate as one of those species, we do it with the full knowledge that we are most likely going to have a brief life experience. Sometimes that is exactly what we are looking for. Do you not think it possible that being eaten by humans might be considered an honor among some animals? Each individual comes to the planet with a purpose. If that purpose is to be eaten, then we will live our life to its fullest and gladly be sacrificed when the times comes. Unlike humans, animals know that there will be countless opportunities for lives, so we do not become overly attached to any one life experience. Some we enjoy more than others, but they are all merely a part of the journey.

Just as some species are food for others in the animal kingdom, certain are intended for humans. It is all as it should be. You may choose not to eat of animal flesh but it doesn’t matter to our experience. If one human doesn’t choose to eat, another will, and so the cycle continues. Some animals consider it a privilege to be sustenance for humans. Would you deny us that joy and purpose?

With that question answered some others came up so the conversation continued.

Do egg layers mind that we take their eggs? What about milk producers?

Egg layers know that each egg is vulnerable to predators. We also know that odds are if we keep laying sooner or later some are bound to make it to a mature hatchling. Some of us use creative means to hide our eggs, others simply never give up, but we do not hold grudges against those who pilfer. We know this is the order of things and accept it as a fact of life. We egg layers are optimistic for we realize that our very existence means an egg was hatched, therefore others will as well. We are dedicated to the task and will continue as long as we are able. We do experience a feeling of release when our laying days are over. At that point we have fulfilled our obligation and can simply go about enjoying our remaining days.

Milk producers are aware that humans consume our milk. We are actually quite proud that we can share this resource with our human caretakers. We realize that our lives are easier than our counterparts in the wild who do not know where their next meal is coming from. There is sadness at having our young taken before they would naturally be weaned, but over the generations we have come to accept this as well. It is just the way of things for our kind. We know that our milk provides nourishment for the two-leggeds and we are proud of our contribution.

With my questions answered I was left to reflect upon other aspects of this topic:

If we did not consume animals many of them would not exist as they are bred specifically to feed us. In fact, some species might become extinct if they were not on our menu. What would be the purpose in keeping domesticated livestock around otherwise? Because the animals understand reincarnation, brief lives are perfectly acceptable to them.

Finally, I am quite sure that other carnivores do not concern themselves with such thoughts. After all as The Lion King teaches “It’s the circle of life.”

Pet Identification: Microchip vs. Tattoo

August 26th, 2009

My pet is missing!

That is the worst nightmare of a caring pet owner. When our old border collie, Joshua, was spooked by fireworks and ran off, we thought we’d never see him again. He was twelve at the time and infirmities were setting in.

We searched the neighborhood, put out flyers, contacted the SPCA, posted to online groups and anything else we could think of. Joshua was wearing an ID tag from North Shore Animal League where we had adopted him from, but he had lost it somewhere in his blind panic. Fortunately for all of us, a kind woman found him and alerted the SPCA who then called us. Three days later we had our precious boy back and were blessed to have another two years with him. We were very lucky.

According to the American Humane Organization’s website:

  • 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. More cats are euthanized than dogs because they are more likely to enter a shelter without any owner identification.
  • Only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their owners.

When Saphyre, a standard poodle, joined our family, we wanted to have her permanently identified so if she were ever lost we would have the best chance at recovery. The options we considered were Microchip and Tattooing.

First I researched microchips, the popular choice. Once implanted they are permanent and shelters will check for them. Vets, shelters and some rescue groups offer chipping for a range of fees. There is no battery involved. All that’s required is a scanner and Pet/Owner Identification is easily retrieved.

However, I also learned there is anecdotal evidence that chips can migrate from the injection site and they may cause cancer if a sarcoma forms around the chip. Owners are advised to regularly check the area of the implant for tenderness or swelling. Hard to do if the chip has migrated.

Chips are not visible to the naked eye. The pet must be taken somewhere that has a scanner and that scanner must be the universal type that can read all kinds of chips.

Logic tells me that inserting a foreign body into an organism could lead to problems. There have been reports of nerve damage and even death from improperly inserted chips. These cases are rare, but that is little comfort if it is your pet that dies.

Veterinary Oncologists quoted in an Associated Press article, Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors, concluded that more study was needed and that anyone considering a chip should be apprised of the risks.

Next I researched tattoos. I learned there are two main registries: Tattoo A Pet and National Dog Registry. They are easily identifiable from the lettering of the tattoo. Authorities are familiar with these registries and call the appropriate one and the registry supplies contact info for the animal’s family.

Tattoos can be applied by a vet or someone authorized by the registry (often they are groomers). The tattoo is applied either in the ear flap or along the rear inner thigh. There have been reports of dogs having their ears cut off to eliminate tattoos so the thigh has become the more common site.

The procedure takes just minutes and requires no anesthesia. Once applied it is easily visible to the naked eye. The drawbacks are that darker skin may be harder to read, the area should be kept shaved for best visibility and the tattoo may fade over time. Fading can easily be addressed by reapplying the tattoo so that issue is negligible.

For Saphyre we opted to go with a tattoo. I contacted the registry and got the names of some local tattooists, made the appointment and vóila, Saphyre was permanently identified as part of our family.

Our Saphyre

Our Saphyre

The procedure really did take just minutes. The tattoo instrument reminded me of an engraving pen. Each letter and number were simply drawn on leaving a large blotchy spot. Saphyre never whimpered or otherwise indicated discomfort beyond being restrained on the table. When the ID was complete, the area was swabbed, revealing an easy-to-read code that uniquely identifies our Saphyre. Filling out the paperwork actually took longer than the tattooing.

If you choose to have your pet permanently identified, I encourage you to take a little time and research your options. Choose the best one to meet your needs. Then you can rest easy knowing should your pet ever get lost, there is a greater likelihood you will have a happy reunion and beat the statistics.

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My foray into fostering

August 24th, 2009

His name was Beau. He was purportedly a shepherd mix. Maybe, but there was definitely some Bull Mastiff in there. He had a huge head which I was soon to learn he used most effectively.

I had decided to try fostering dogs after reading repeated pleas in my local paper. Our county SPCA had closed down and local rescues were doing their best to fill the gap, but they needed foster families to house them.

I also thought it would be a great way to see if a second dog would fit with our family. You see we have this wacky, hyperactive, standard poodle, Saphyre, who we absolutely adore, but her antics can sometimes be a bit much. A companion for her could be exactly what we all needed. Fostering seemed like the perfect way to find out.

Beau was about 80 lbs of sweetness and love. He wanted to kiss everyone and was just happy to be part of a family. He and Saphyre hit it off immediately. They wrestled with intensity and then collapsed until the next time. Yesssss!

Saphyre & Beau wrestling

Saphyre & Beau wrestling

However, like with all things there was good and bad. Beau did not like being confined, even in our generous fenced yard. He immediately began digging under the fence and escaped repeatedly. Once he was loose there was no catching him until he was done with his adventure. Worse, Saphyre escaped with him so there were two dogs running around wildly.

Luckily we have a lot of rocks which I immediately began hauling and placing around the fence. With all the rocks in place and the yard appearing secure, I let the dogs out again. Beau very shortly put that big head of his to good use pushing the rocks! The ones he didn’t push he flung, some as much as two feet, as he went to digging past them!

After more chasing down loose dogs, and some very scary moments involving the road, they were once more captured. This time I hauled small boulders. These were large enough that I had to use a lever and tractor to gather and place. At last, success!! The dogs were now safely contained and we could begin to enjoy our foster boy.

One thing I noticed was that Beau did not respond to his name. I checked with the rescue group and learned that he had been found wandering the streets. The shelter had given him the name Beau and he had lived primarily in a kennel before going into foster care. Little wonder he didn’t respond to the name. (Being an animal communicator comes in handy at times like these.) I asked him what he would like to be called and heard Sampson. But he didn’t answer to Sampson so I tried Sammy. That was it! When I called him Sammy he visibly relaxed and came to me.

We had a really nice couple of weeks before Sammy found his new family. They made sure to reinforce their fencing before his arrival, and by all reports, he is a perfect fit.

Don’t you just love happy endings?

Farewell little poodle

August 19th, 2009

I’ve previously posted about Nyla, the little poodle who went to live with the draft horses. Little Poodle finds home with Giant Horses and Update on the Little Poodle

Nyla had a great life and lived each day to the fullest. She was adored by her family and never taken for granted. She made it her mission to rid the farm of ground hogs and excelled at the task. Much to her chagrin, she had even begun having short “rides” on the horses. Her guardian delighted in seeing Nyla sitting on the back of the gentle giants.

Sadly, Nyla was recently killed in a trailer accident when she decided to go visit her friend, Noella. Her family was devastated and asked me to communicate with her. They needed answers and some closure and I was privileged to be able to act as their conduit.

When I contacted Nyla, she was spending time with two dogs (Princess and Mystery) who had previously lived with her family. They had been there to meet her when she transitioned. Nyla communicated with me both in words and pictures. What Nyla shared with me is below in bold blue. Her guardian’s comments are interspersed in italic green.

She’s hanging out with Princess and Mystery. They are swapping stories about the horses. Mystery particularly wants to hear about the ground hogs. Sitting under a shade tree just relaxing and visiting.

It’s just like Mystery to enjoy hearing about ground hog hunting. She always stood by and cheered Princess while she hunted. It’s fascinating to know Princess and Mystery teamed up on the other side – just like they did in their life with us – to help Nyla.

Nyla says she’s sorry. She just wanted to see Noella so badly and wasn’t as careful as she should have been. She didn’t feel pain. There was just a thud then dark and floaty. Next thing she remembers is being in this new place. Princess and Mystery were there when she woke up and explained what happened. That helped because she was confused. She’s not sorry she crossed over, she rather likes it there. But she is sorry that she broke your heart. She treasured your time together and would not have deliberately hurt you like this.

Nyla’s choice of words, “break your heart”, is significant. I have not said those words to anyone, but Nyla. When Princess and Mystery passed, my heart was broken, but not by them. However, this time, it feels as though Nyla directly broke my heart with her abandoned recklessness.

I appreciate and accept Nyla’s apology. My pain is soothed knowing she, too, treasured the life we shared.

She loved sitting in your lap. It made her feel so special. She wonders if you understood how important that was to her?

Nyla was so undemanding, so perfectly independent – I never refused her need for cuddles. She was irresistible. I’m so glad it meant something special to her. It seemed as though she was here to make everyone she met feel loved and needed.

She says please don’t be sad. She would like you to remember how happy you were and hold onto that. Don’t let the sadness block out the good memories. It’s ok with her if you get another dog but pick a good one so you will be happy together for a very long time.

Our hourly joys were so intense, they easily out shine the pain of my loss. As for my next dog(s), I am already scanning the possibilities.

She says she’ll come back to you if you want. She would enjoy another lifetime riding on the quad and sitting in your lap. It was a good life and she appreciates that you gave her a chance at such a good life.

Nyla will always be welcome in my life. She knows my breed, age, gender, size and price specifications. I wouldn’t want to bore her by asking her to return with the same temperament and personality. Instead, I  challenge her to find a way to improve on her already perfectly perfect self.

As soon as she is ready, I want her back in my life.

Her thoughts are still a bit jumbled from the shock so there wasn’t much else but she will fully come back to herself in time and be capable of more fruitful conversation. She’s sorry to be so slow but that’s just the way it is right now.

I will continue to talk to her and enjoy her presence, no matter where she is.

Thank you, Debbra, for giving me such a beautiful message from Nyla, my perfectly perfect poodle.

With gratitude,
Gayla of Serenity Equestrian Center
Photos of Nyla, Princess and Mystery

Wild dogs thriving in Moscow

August 5th, 2009

Having recently blogged about my chickens demonstrating Darwin’s theory, “survival of the fittest,” I was fascinated to read about Russia’s wild dogs.

It seems that when the old Soviet Union collapsed, homeless dogs relocated to the suburbs along with the industrial complexes they inhabited. However, their main food source was in the city. Gotta have a place to sleep. Gotta eat. What’s a dog to do?

These clever dogs quickly deduced that they could simply commute, just like the humans. According to scientists who have studied the phenomenon “Dogs are surprisingly good psychologists.” Not only have they worked together to solve a problem, they are having a good time doing it. Observers have noted that they make a game out of jumping onto the train at the last minute, barely escaping getting a tail caught in the closing doors.

The full story along with pictures comes from Britain’s The Sun.

Darwin’s survival of the fittest demonstrated.

July 29th, 2009

A couple years ago I got four roosters and one hen from my local Freecycle group. I wanted chickens to help with the bug population that plague my horses. The chickens were given free run of the property and quickly adjusted to our rhythms, cleaning up after the horses and eating bugs with abandon.

I knew with one hen there were bound to be issues. Sure enough many cock fights ensued. Still somehow they managed to not only survive but thrive. A few months later the hen hatched out a nice brood. I was delighted with the growth of my chicken population but it was short lived. The hen allowed her chicks to get too close to the horses and while stomping bugs they also stomped chicks. She managed to save two chicks from that brood one of which was a hen.

The next season both hens hatched out two separate broods. By the end of the summer I had 35 chickens. Now we were getting somewhere!

The cocks continued to fight and occasionally one would be killed so the numbers fluctuated a bit but still we had a decent sized flock of chickens working on the bug problem.

Fast forward to this year. I had four hens sitting on nests and was anxiously awaiting the hatchlings. Suddenly they began disappearing. Had they moved out to the woods? Had they become victims of some predator? Maybe the stray cats got them?

Finally the answer came: raccoons. For the first time in five years we had a coon family moving into the neighborhood and they were feasting on my chickens! One day I looked around to find I had a solitary hen left.

That did it. Time to relocate the coon family. Altogether we found four, so far anyway. One day a couple weeks after the coons were removed the hen showed up with a new brood. She had nine little hatchlings! I have no idea how she managed to escape the raccoons during her approximately 21 days of sitting on that nest, but I am delighted she did.

That determined little hen demonstrated Darwin’s theory splendidly.

Things were going great until a visiting dog went after the chicks and managed to kill two. Now we’re down to seven. The dog will not be returning. Sometimes Darwin needs a little help.

So now we cheer the little hen on as she continues her vigilant watch over her remaining chicks. If she has her way we’ll have another chicken population explosion next year. The horses are rooting for her too!

Who says horses don’t have a sense of humor?

July 26th, 2009

For some time now I have been meaning to take a look at Rusty’s lip tattoo. I wanted to get the number and look up his history from the Jockey Club. He came to me with a sketchy history and no idea of his original name. He is a real character with a quirky personality so naturally I was curious about his background.

Well yesterday was the day. I got him from the pasture and brought him to the grooming/tacking area. After liberally applying fly spray (the bugs are awful this year), he was able to stand still long enough for me to curl back his upper lip. While this doesn’t hurt the horse, Rusty definitely doesn’t like it. After several false starts I finally got the lip in a position where I could read his tattoo.

I barely got the whole number when Rusty let loose with a big sneeze and blew gunk all over my face and head. Ewwwww. That was no accident. Rusty was laughing so hard that I half expected him to fall to the ground. Of course horses are way too cool to actually do that but all you had to do was look in his eyes to see the mirth.

Rusty has a twisted sense of humor.

After that we had a lovely arena ride. He gave me a super smooth collected trot that more than made up for his earlier antics. All in all it was a very good day.

Clint Ritchie Horse Herd Dispersal

July 18th, 2009

Photo courtesy of Clint Ritchie fan club.

Photo courtesy of Clint Ritchie fan club.

When Clint Ritchie died this past January he left behind a living, breathing, legacy, a herd of 30 horses. They are a combination of horses that he personally rescued and some that he bred on his ranch.

Clint, an actor, was well known and much loved for his role as Clint Buchanan on the ABC daytime drama, One Life to Live. From all accounts he was a committed horseman who took excellent care of his herd. However, he overlooked one very important aspect of their care: he failed to leave a will expressing his wishes for the horses upon his death. As a result, the county he resided in bears the responsibility of resolving his estate, which includes the horses. Clint’s rescued horses now need to be rescued. I can’t help thinking that this is not the outcome Clint Ritchie would have wanted and it could have easily been prevented. (See my June post: What Happens to My Pet(s) When I Die?)

Fortunately for the horses, the county asked Northern California Equine Rescue to handle the dispersal. They could just as easily have sold them off at auction and left them to whatever hand fate dealt. The county and rescue deserve huge kudos for stepping up in such an honorable way, particularly during a time when there are already huge numbers of horses needing homes and resources are stretched so thin.

Whether you’re a fan of Clint Richie or a horse lover you can help. Visit the rescue’s site for details on how you can help Clint’s horses find their happy ending.