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Lilly is a 13 year old Lab mix and I adore her. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her as she has sent me on a quest for knowledge of alternatives to conventional veterinarian medicine. Let me explain…when I took Lilly in as a puppy, I wanted to provide the best for her. I immediately started feeding her Eukanuba puppy food thinking that it was the best money could buy. Looking back now, I should have seen the signs. She had dry flaky skin so bad that I started to put liquid Vitamin E directly on her skin in hopes that it would help. When I asked my vet about it, she said that her coat looked great and I shouldn't worry. Fall came and the itching started. She chewed her paws raw and couldn't sleep through the night. When I asked my vet about it, she said that she probably had allergies and that I should switch her food. On the advice of my pet sitter, I switched to Flint River Ranch, a premium dry kibble only available via mail. Lilly of course loved it, but I really didn't see much of an improvement. Winter came and the itching subsided, everything seemed o.k.
February came and Lilly was 1 ½ years old. We were playing one night when she squealed in pain and started limping. The next morning I rushed her to my vet only to be told that she had a luxating patella (her knee cap slips in and out of place) that could only be corrected with surgery. I was also told that it was congenital, meaning that she was born with it and there was nothing else I could do. Of course I would do the surgery if that meant Lilly would get better. I found the best surgeon in Chicago, and scheduled the $1500 surgery. People thought I was nuts to spend that much on a dog…they obviously didn't get it…she's my world. I can honestly say I wasn't prepared for what was coming. Lilly had to stay overnight for the surgery and when I picked her up the next morning, my heart ripped open and I began to cry…I had never seen an animal in so much pain. She had tears in her eyes and you could tell she had been crying all night. Her leg was completely shaved and bloody/bruised. She had a zipper of stitches running up and down her leg. I was beside myself. She turned her head away and wouldn't look at me. I couldn't believe that I did this to my baby. The whole ride home I cried hysterically and had an overwhelming sense of guilt. I would never wish the experience upon anyone. It took 6 months before Lilly would start using her leg again, and all I could do was hope that her second knee (which also had a mild luxating patella) would remain stable as to avoid the experience again.
Fall returned and so did the itching. I went to my vet again and this time she prescribed Prednisone, a steroid to suppress the symptoms. It had terrible side effects, but I didn't know what else to do…Lilly was miserable. April came and the real ball dropped…Lilly started limping on her second knee. Dreading the words that were to come, I took her to the vet again. I remember it like it was yesterday; she looked at me very coldly and said that it was her patella and she needed surgery. I asked if there were any other options available. Visibly agitated with me, she repeated that it was congenital, she was born with it and surgery was the ONLY way to fix it. At that moment I made a decision. I told my vet "well that's not good enough for me". I turned around, left, and never went back.
I find it interesting how solutions to problems can be right in front of you all along, but you choose not to see them until desperation sets in. That was me. Lilly's pet sitter had been trying to talk to me about raw food diets. I wanted no part of it…I thought she had certainly lost her mind. Well, let me tell you that when I walked out of that vet's office, she was the first person I called. "Talk to me", I said. What she told me sounded absurd, but I didn't care…all I wanted was to help Lilly. I was fortunate that she referred me to a holistic vet (Dr. Karen Becker - who I think the world revolves around) and a magical chiropractor (Dr. Carl DeStefano). I couldn't get an appointment with either right away, so I started reading my first book on raw food diets: Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats by Kymythy Schultze. You should have seen the look on my husband's face when I told him I was going to feed Lilly raw chicken necks. "Absolutely not", he said (well, those weren't his exact words). I convinced him that we had nothing to lose and that we should at least try it…at least for a little while, and if there was no improvement, I'd submit to the surgery.
The concept behind Lilly's recovery was very simple: reduce inflammation in the knee, tighten the tendons that hold the knee cap in place and strengthen the muscles around the knee to keep everything tight. Inflammation is exacerbated by grain, so the raw food was perfect being that it was grain free; we also eliminated all grain based treats from her diet. Lilly also took supplements such as Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM to help build joint cartilage, joint fluid and reduce inflammation. Dr. Carl adjusted Lilly regularly to guarantee proper energy flow throughout the body. This part was important in promoting muscle development around the knee and to insure proper body alignment. Finally, Lilly did hydrotherapy (swimming) a couple of times a week to build muscle mass. Three weeks went by and Lilly seemed to be improving, but she still wasn't using her knee. I made a consultation appointment with the surgeon and decided to put Lilly's fate in his hands; if he said she needed surgery, then that's what we'd do. The day of the appointment, I was terrified. I explained at great length what we'd been doing and begged for him to be honest with me. When he examined her knee, he tilted his head in bewilderment and said, "what ever you are doing with her, keep doing it, because she's not a candidate for surgery at this time". Wow. Immediately, I started to cry…this time is was good. We ran out of there as fast as we could and never looked back…imagine that…surgery WASN'T the only option.
As Lilly's knee progressively got better, so did her allergies. She lost her old, dull coat and grew in the most beautiful, silky fur that I'd ever seen. I didn't realize how unhealthy she was until I saw how healthy she had become. She seemed happier. I told my husband, Joe that it was upsetting to know that I blindly followed our vet's advice in the past. If I was made aware of these "alternative" options, I'm sure that I would have explored them. So I gave him a cold beer, sat him down and said, "Do you know how many pets we could help if we opened up a store?" I know there are devoted people out there like me that would do anything for their pets…that want nothing but the best for them. I wanted to help enhance those relationships. And that was how Wet Nose was born.
A "Lilly" placed in your heart will bloom forever ~
8/29/1999 - 11/23/2012