This post is in honor of Blog the Change for Animals, hosted by the newly designed BTC4Animals.com. BTC4A offers a fresh new monthly format that never asks for a cent but just a moment of time to make a difference for animals in need! Take a look and sign up for manageable monthly action alerts!
LOST DOGS FOUND
When our Newf and hound jumped the fence in a two foot snowstorm, terror struck. Forced to think rather than feel to ensure their survival and return, it was difficult to shift gears.
We hung fliers and organized friends, veterinarians, the mailman, and town garage crews in our search. As night fell, my husband snowshoed over the mountain in 14 degree weather serenaded by the shrill calls of hungry coyotes on the hunt. By morning, we found tracks suggesting the dogs had hunkered down in an abandoned trailer before moving on. When Tim pulled them from the deep woods, stumbling, weak, and dehydrated, they had traveled 6 miles. It took us all a week to recover from the stress alone. (Read “Both Dogs: Lost … and Found” in its entirety.)
In that experience, I’ve learned one thing. When you’ve lost a beloved pet (or two), panic consumes logic. Thankfully, there’s a new app that does the logical thinking for you.
INTRODUCING THE FREE ASPCA MOBILE APP
The ASPCA has launched its first interactive mobile application which offers step-by-step instructions on what to do if a pet goes missing. These instructions are tailored to each specific circumstance and a pet’s individual personality. It also allows pet owners to store vital medical records, and it will provide information on making life-saving decisions during natural disasters.
A personalized missing pet recovery kit, including step-by-step instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances. This kit was developed by ASPCA pet care experts and based on the latest field research.
The ability to build a lost pet digital flyer that can be shared instantly on social media channels.
Access critical advice – even if there’s no data connectivity – on ensuring pet’s safety before, during, and after a major storm or disaster.
Store and manage pet’s health records.
Timely, relevant updates from the ASPCA about the latest in pet news and animal welfare.
Built-in ASPCA Twitter and Instagram feeds.
DO DOWNLOAD! PLUS…
The app is available for free download on iPhone and Android. But don’t stop there. Enter your pet’s information now! If crisis strikes, you’ll be prepared.
Fortunate so far, the only escapes have been good ones: from the wrath of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. But our pets’ safety is always in our hands. Around here, we take that seriously. To stave off a repeat performance, we always ensure current microchip registration. We’ve invested in a new 6 foot fence. We’ve attached Tagg GPS trackers to our dogs’ collars and keep them properly charged. And now, I’ve added the ASPCA to my phone, too.
Frankie, my best Cockatiel friend (named after Sinatra for his choral abilities and charm with the ladies), slowly stopped singing over the past couple of months. At the age of at least 18, it’s no wonder, really. At some point, oft-used body parts wear out. But, while Frankie has seemed perfectly healthy and happy in every way, I’ve been well aware that an end is near.
This morning, Frankie’s breathing was slightly labored. In the moment I saw it, all my growing fear of his eventual loss liquefied, cascading in rivers down my face. This sweet fella has been by my side through every happy moment and life crisis, every job, apartment, and house. I couldn’t imagine life without greeting him every morning. But I envisioned the end crashing down upon us in a sudden heap of senseless trauma and pain.
The rest went as follows, which you can read in my open letter to Animal Communicator David Louis, for whom I am eternally grateful for having spoken with me. While compiling his website these past weeks, I’ve been reading letters about how many human/animal relationships he’s helped with and, while I cannot viscerally understand or envision the level at which this type of communication works, I do feel that something good is going on here. So, I called him.
After we spoke, I wrote this.
Thank you so much for helping me connect with Frankie’s wishes for his last chapter in life, David.
When Frankie stopped singing, perhaps two months ago now, I surmised that it was because he reached the age of 18 and, in Cockatiel years, that’s a long, lovely life. His repertoire of microwave mockery, The Addams Family theme song, Pop Goes the Wease (because he never learned the last syllable of weasel), and other songs had been reduced to the mere whisper of a wolf whistle over time – and now he barely gives a hoarse squawk. It seemed he just grew tired and his song went utterly silent.
But is he just tired? Or is he suffering physically? The biggest part of me suddenly worried that he stopped singing because he was unhappy, a signal often seen in stressed parrots. Did he need more from me?
When I woke to Frankie’s slightly labored breathing this morning, I panicked. Is this a growing tumor that will slowly choke him? At my husband’s suggestion, I called our local vet but I was hesitant knowing how difficult it would be to get Frankie there. Then came the brick to my heart. No longer providing avian services, our vet referred me elsewhere.
Forced to step back from my initial trajectory, I felt exceptionally frustrated with our vet’s discontinuation of service. Once I called, I felt sure they could help, but that option was ripped away.
Then, while pausing at the thought of using strange vets in a strange place, that’s when I understood. The only mild sense of comfort our own vet could offer was to me. Having to catch Frankie, clip his wings, force him into a carrier, drive him to a cold examination table, he would feel utterly distraught no matter where we went.
Then it came ’round again, that feeling of ” But what if something can be done?”
Bird health can fail like a flash in the pan. I was torn.
I went to Frankie. He tapped his beak on his perch the moment I came near, a sign of flirtation among birds and bonded bird/human pairs. He came to me and preened my bangs when I leaned in to kiss his beak. While obviously winded, he still seemed happy and not in distress, unlike me in that moment.
I shoved aside our vet’s referral numbers and called my husband. I told him that I didn’t want to do anything but wait and see. If Frankie began to suffer, we would work quickly to end that, but I didn’t want to take him out of his comfort zone and away from his family flock. There, I said it. I had made a choice.
Still I had doubts.
I, I, I…
Up to this point, all my thoughts had been about me – what I should do, what I want, what I feel is best. No more. It was time for me to learn what Frankie was thinking and feeling.
That’s when I called you.
As one who cannot communicate with animals the way that you do, and I’ve said this to you before, I don’t know how to believe in what I can’t experience for myself. But I’m not a non-believer either. Whatever I am, the more that you and I gather stories for your website, the more I feel that there is something here.
And then you made me laugh without intending to. You asked, “You have birds?”
In our chance meetings over the years, dog or cat rescue was typically involved in some way – but that was it. I not only found it amusing that you didn’t know that I’ve had birds for 1/2 of my life, I was relieved by that. I didn’t want to influence your connection with Frankie in any way.
In the short sentences I shared with you about why I was calling, you gave me so much more in return. What you said was exactly what I felt I knew about my fabulous feathered friend, a companion who has been a huge part of my life going back to my early 20s. I wrote down every word you uttered when I could see the paper through my tears.
Thank you for sharing the universe’s response to your opening prayer asking who Frankie is. I will always cherish the answer: “Frankie – the beautiful soul who has chosen his life with Kim.”
When I chose Frankie and brought him home, I just had to have a bird. I had always wanted one and, having moved out from under my father’s bird-restrictive roof, I finally had he opportunity to get one. It never occurred to me that Frankie had chosen me too. I’ve just always seen him as a cheerful little companion who has made me happy all these years, not necessarily a being with a grand destiny. But what a grand destiny that is, now that I think about it.
You described Frankie’s first layer of existence as so filled with bliss and peace that you had to press him to address the heart of any physical discomfort. “He is always happy,” you said, but the singing takes too much work now, even for my “energizer bunny,” as you aptly called him. You added, “He says that was the old Frankie, you won’t likely hear anymore singing, but he says he’s not ready to go either. He still has work to do.” For the “couple more months” of living you felt he has left, I will do what Frankie told you he wants. Together, we’re “gonna shine until that last moment.”
When he does wind down, which you feel may be heart related (“There is something slowing down within the engine that drives everything,” you said), I’m so glad to know that our wishes are in line with one another’s. As you described, I will honor what I now know Frankie and I both want, to experience his passing together by sitting with it and through it, by experiencing the beauty of our deepest friendship, and by receiving the healing of allowing the end to happen naturally without putting that control in the hands of a stranger.
“It will be sad, but it will be healing. It won’t be traumatic. There is something beautiful in being there for one another,” you said.
I believe that.
Most poignant to me, as one so heavily focused on dog rescue, was hearing the words, “You don’t have to save this one.” Oh, how that resonated to the depth of my core and stomped every ember of my initial animal saving fire.
My mind is at ease now that we can go on living a beautiful life for whatever time Frankie has left. We won’t distract ourselves from that precious opportunity while trying to cheat an inevitable death.
Thank you so much for sharing what Frankie feels, especially without knowing what I wanted – because I couldn’t 100% decide what that was until after we spoke.
And now I’m off to sing to my bird who can longer sing to me. Because there are still joyful songs left to experience, no matter the vocalist.
With all our gratitude, Kim and Frankie
For More on David Louis
As an animal communicator, David has worked with many species, from dogs, cats, horses, bunnies, ferrets and hedgehogs to raccoons and porcupines. He has taught, presented workshops, talks and sessions throughout the northeastern United States, in Canada and Europe. And, with an eye toward the stressors often endured by rescued animals, David regularly uses his skills to assist and raise money for nonprofit animal rescue organizations. Talk to Your Animals is a sole proprietorship started by Animal Communication Specialist David Louis in 2001.
David has studied interspecies communication extensively with the finest teachers available, most notably Penelope Smith (www.animaltalk.net) the author of four books on the subject, including Animal Talk and When Animals Speak. He has assisted Penelope with her workshops at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and the Omega Institute. He lives in Wynantskill, New York with his family, which includes his wife, stepchildren, three cats and three dogs.
Over the past seven years, the honeybee die-off known as “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD), has claimed 5,650,000 hives, valued at $1.61 billion, according to the Organic Consumers Association.
Italy, France, Slovenia and Germany have taken action to limit the use of bee-killing pesticides. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about to approve a deadly new neonicotinoid called Sulfoxaflor.
Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA, claiming the agency has failed to protect one of the Earth’s most vital pollinators from dangerous pesticides. Join in the fight for our food!
In the short term, dead bees mean less hives, higher hive rental fees, smaller crops, and a rise in food prices. The sharpest bee decline yet in 2012 brought much of these consequences with it. Long-term, the implications are far greater, from economic family struggles and health troubles to food shortages, small farm collapse, and environmental justice issues.
In addition to mites and viruses, the presence of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are largely being blamed for the increase in bee decline. The largest threats are neonicotinoids. These systemic pesticides are embedded in seeds and the plant carries the chemical that kills insects that feed on it.
It’s a dastardly domino effect. Many bee-keepers feed their colonies high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup is made from Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and that corn is treated with Bayer’s neonicotinoid insecticides.
New York Times journalist Michael Wines reports in “Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry:”
But while each substance has been certified, there has been less study of their combined effects. Nor, many critics say, have scientists sufficiently studied the impact of neonicotinoids, the nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths.
And, in case you missed it, that’s right. Other parts of the world have determined a deadly link between bee die-off and neocotinoids, but the U.S. presses on. Why? According to the Organic Consumers Association’s article, “Stop the Death of Bees:”:
Poland is the first country to formally acknowledge the link between Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that’s been devastating bees around the world, but it’s likely that Monsanto has known the danger their GMOs posed to bees all along. The biotech giant recently purchased a CCD research firm, Beeologics, that government agencies, including the US Department of Agriculture, have been relying on for help unraveling the mystery behind the disappearance of the bees.
Now that it’s owned by Monsanto, it’s very unlikely that Beeologics will investigate the links, but genetically engineered crops have been implicated in CCD for years now.
Tell the EPA to protect the food chain, not the biotech companies. The lives of every single being, not just bees, depends upon it. And what human wants to eat corn that kills bees? What, then, is it doing to us?
The Honest Kitchen has been a beloved dog food brand in this household for several years now. I couldn’t have felt more confident about our pet food being gently dehydrated with all the safety precautions and controls afforded to humans – controls other pet foods can’t offer. Every bit of protein is hormone and antibiotic free, responsibly farm raised or wild caught. Fresh, GMO-free fruit and vegetables are never processed, nor are vitamins sprayed on to make up for lacking amounts due to processing.
In fact, The Honest Kitchen is healthier than what our household humans often eat. If I ate like my dogs, I’d be running circles around marathoners. Every day would be a good, healthy hair day. And if I want to, I can eat what my dogs eat because, as I said, The Honest Kitchen is human grade food. (It smells like the most delicious homemade chicken soup to me.)
What Happened to The Honest Kitchen?
Certain lots of food are being recalled. (See below for details.) My heart sank with the news. I’m well aware that human food preparation still faces risk of contamination regardless of higher FDA controls in place, but this brand has been conscientious in every way. Even their boxes are recyclable and inks are soy based to protect the environment (or chewing cats like Jed above). So, what could have happened?
Nothing Happened – But to be safe…
That’s right. Nothing happened with The Honest Kitchen specifically. Spokesperson Carmon Valasquez had this to say,
We have had absolutely no positive tests for Salmonella and no reports of illness; however, a supplier has informed us that they have found a positive Salmonella test from the same batch we used in our food.
If you read about THK’s own quality control process, you’ll see that it is very stringent. Still, to be safe, THK is treating the report as if their own food may be affected, just in case, even though their own tests came back clean.
My Faith: Unshaken and Strengthened
While nothing happened to THK, something did happen for me. My faith in The Honest Kitchen was strengthened by proactive and forthcoming nature of THK’s Founder and President, Lucy Postins. This is what she had to say about why the recall exists and how she’s working toward it never happening again.
From THK Founder and President, Lucy Postins
Dear Honest Kitchen Customer,
I’m writing to inform you that today we are voluntarily recalling five lots of our Verve, Zeal and Thrive products, which were produced between August and November 2012 and sold nationwide in the US and Canada via retail stores, mail order and online after August 2012.
We are taking this precautionary action after learning that one of our raw ingredients suppliers has recalled a batch of human-grade parsley that has the potential to contain Salmonella. The batch of parsley was shipped to us in 2012 and used in the five lots of finished Honest Kitchen products. We’ve included specific details about which lots are being recalled, directions on how you can obtain a full refund for the affected lots, and information on the potential effects of Salmonella in our official recall press release.
At The Honest Kitchen, we are accountable for every pound of food that we produce and ultimately, when it comes to the way we do business, the buck stops with me. We are committed to always providing healthy, quality products that balance gentle production methods with a focus on safety and integrity, and along with my team, I have built our company over the last decade on the principles of honesty, transparency and openness.
We work closely with each of our suppliers to carefully source our human grade ingredients. Our finished products are made in a human food facility and held to the same high quality control standards as human food products. And, humans taste the products we make as part of our quality control and R&D processes.
As you may know, Salmonella can appear in many human foods, from pistachios to mangoes, but it trends particularly high in meats, eggs and leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce and herbs. To further protect you from the risks Salmonella can pose, we’re adding additional steps to our food safety program:
All dehydrated leafy greens (parsley, basil, dandelion, spinach and alfalfa) will be steamed, to eliminate pathogens while maintaining our commitment to very gentle production that retains and protects the nutrients that nature provides.
We will conduct additional tests for pathogens on all leafy greens when they arrive at our manufacturing facility.
We are no longer purchasing any ingredients from the supplier that provided the parsley being recalled.
We are committed to continually evolving and adapting our procedures to prevent problems like this from occurring in the future. If you have questions, concerns, or frustrations, please call our toll free number, 1-866-437-9729 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Customer service representatives will be available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST to respond to inquiries.
I apologize for the inconvenience this situation has created and I promise that we will continue to operate our family business in a way that lives up to the high standards that you have always expected from us.
Thank you, Lucy, and to all the THK staff, for protecting our animals in every way conceivable, and for the precautionary measures you’ll now implement to make them even safer. My faith remains unshaken thanks to the honest foundation this company provides to all it’s customers, costumers who are treated like family because we all eat from the same THK table.
Item Code: ZR Production Date: 9/21/12 Expiration Date: 9/21/13 Size: 10 lb. box Lot Number: 2652A (batches 1-4)
Thrive: Item Code: TM Production Date: 9/18/12 Expiration Date: 9/18/13 Size: 1 oz. sample Lot Number: 2622A (batch 3)
The people who stand behind The Honest Kitchen genuinely want your pets to be safe – just as much as you do. How could they not? Every day, they and their pets eat this food too.
I am a proud participant in The Honest Kitchen’s ally program. I joined because, after increased deception about what constitutes “healthy” food in the pet food industry, I’ve found a human grade, socially and environmentally conscious dog and cat food company that I can trust my pets’ life with. While I do receive samples and a discount through the program, I tell everybody I know about The Honest Kitchen because – bottom line – I want people to feel as good about what they feed their pets as I do.
When Amy Burkert from GoPetFriendly.com dropped by to freeload for a month*, competitive shows from the Food Network dominated our television. Deciding to finally put Amy to work, I used her obsession to my advantage. The end result? We became Petfood Network Stars in our very own show minds.
Now, I’m no cook – for myself or my pets – which is why I feed the animals from The Honest Kitchen. I just add warm water and easily serve up a healthy meal. It smells so good, I’m sometimes tempted to serve it for dinner. It is human grade, after all. Still, Amy inspired me to get creative with her.
Check out our easy summertime treat to beat the heat and soothe environmental itch for cats and dogs! We call it…
Sparkle is an herbal nutritional supplement made with Dandelion Leaf, Rosehips, Burdock Root, Nettle Leaf, and Nutritional Yeast. It is designed to support healthy skin and a shiny coat for both dogs and cats.
We are encouraged that customers of The Honest Kitchen have remarked on it’s anti-inflammatory qualities. That’s the kind of relief our dogs need too.
Pizza Bites are great for dogs with allergies because they contain no wheat, corn or soy and they are made with with all natural, human quality ingredients & baked in small batches at a human grade kitchen in the USA.
Both companies offer all-natural, human grade, hormone and antibiotic free pet foods. Amy and I don’t even feed ourselves as well as we do our pets. (Just watch us lick artificially colored and flavored orange goo from every one of our fingers after devouring a bag of cheese curls.)
THE HOW TO:
As our video demonstrates, the animals formed some pretty strong opinions about our mad cooking skillz. These Pet Food Network Stars made the cut… for now.
PET FOOD NETWORK STARS HIT BARKWORLD EXPO!
Cook up more pet treats with us in person at BarkWorld Expo, the national social petworking™ conference taking place in Atlanta from October 25-27, 2012. We’ll be making special concoctions for you and your pet’s delight every day. The big mystery: Will we ever graduate to using an oven? Be there to find out!
WIN YOUR WAY TO BARKWORLD
Enter the Iams Home 4 the Holidays “How I Can Help Pet Adoption” contest by posting a compelling blog post (or YouTube video) about why pet adoption is important to you and how you will utilize what you learn at BarkWorld 2012 to help get more pets adopted. Promote it to your social media community as well as include the link to the post/video in our comment section below. The more you post and promote the more chances you have to win! Learn more!
A LITTLE END NOTE OF HONESTY
* Amy, her husband Rod, and their two dogs didn’t mean to freeload in our basement for a month. Their intent was to freeload in our driveway for a week… until a faulty outlet installation set their Winnebago on fire. We were trying to be accommodating hosts, installing a means for air conditioning in their year-round mobile home. And we really were accommodating hosts… for an additional three weeks during repair.
Amy and I are proud participants in The Honest Kitchen’s Allies Program. I joined because, after dangerous recalls and increased deception about what constitutes “healthy” food in the pet food industry, I finally found a human grade, socially and environmentally conscious dog food company that I can trust my dogs’ life with. While I do receive samples and a discount through the program, I tell everybody I know about The Honest Kitchen because – bottom line – I want them to feel as good about what they feed their dogs as I do.
Bark4Green provides Pizza Bites for the dogs at GoPetFriendly and they also donate them to Dog House Adoptions, a rescue that I co-founded. We feed these treats in abundance because they really are that good! No really. Smell them. They smell awesome and the dogs go nuts for them.
Retaining good health has been a challenge in this household and is something we’ve grown to appreciate. This is strongly influencing our gift giving this holiday season – for people and for pets.
For this reason, The Honest Kitchen’s limited-edition, all-natural Holiday Treat Pack is gracing our favorite dog-loving friends’ cupboard.
THE QUEEN OF INSPIRATION
We had a special visitor recently, a lovely rescue dog named Quinn. Around these parts, we call her the Queen. You might recognize her eyes from the Be the Change for Animals logo. When founding BTC4animals, Amy and I chose Quinn as our mascot because her story embodied everything we wanted BTC to be about. Quinn is now a symbol of hope for abandoned pets everywhere and a celebration of local rescue.