This morning I started my big walk without Joy for the first time. I walk around the house for about 6 miles, several times a week. With "around the house" I mean that I take a walk from my house, through the country side, passing meadows, and a creek before I return back to the village, where I walk through a beautiful street, admiring some beautiful houses, via a large road back home. Always listening to Usher singing in my ears, because with a good beat to lead my steps I can walk with a firm pace and normally I have Joy on the leash in my right arm, which I move back and forth as if I were cross-country skiing. That seems to give me even more energy, prevents my fingers from swelling up and my hands from tingling (a tip I found on the Internet) . With Joy walking along side me at the same pace, we are completely in sync. This feels very nice and powerful (and probably looks funny to the bystanders, because people always smile when they see us pass by like this). For those who do not walk their dog like this yet: you really should, because it is a good work-out for you, a good work-out for your dog and a really nice way to start the day. 

Soaking up the fresh air, clearing my head and despite the fact that I can hear Usher calling or whispering in my ear (a lovely sultry voice) I still get all kinds of insights and ideas along the way to help my business move forward. One of the reasons why nature coaching works so well is because walking activates your left and right hemispheres, making you more open-minded and I think that this also happens to me during my walks, even though I have music on. And of course it is super for strengthening the bond with your Doodle: during our walks I really feel that Joy and I are a team and that feels very powerful and familiar.

Joy not her old self

All the more strange it feels, when you suddenly have to walk like that, without your dog. It feels very empty. But since 2 days Joy has developed a limp. She limps with her front legs, tries to spare her left front leg and clearly indicates that I am not doing her any favors with a short poop & pee walk, let alone a long work-out walk. Upon returning home, she goes back to her bed as quickly as possible and I'm a little worried about her. Last week I discussed her anamnesis with Karin, my teacher from my Dog Natural Health training and my biggest fear was confirmed: that Joy indeed has a lot of waste products in her body and that she is probably further along in the disease process than I suspected and was hoping for. So not only are we going to put her on a bowel protocol, we are also going to support her kidneys (because all the symptoms she is showing go beyond just a buildup of waste products and indicate organ deterioration). Besides everything I told you last time (that she always has dried up tear fluid in the corners of her eyes, that she regularly flaps her ears and has fatty ears, that she is itchy, her coat feels greasy and she has flakes in her coat, that she has to urinate often, that she often has diarrhea / thin stools and that she regularly has hotspots), the other day when we were on vacation and Joy went to my parents for a few days, it turned out that her anal glands were very full. According to Karin, these are so many symptoms at the same time that there must be more going on and since several Barbets in Joy's family line had kidney problems, we are going to support the kidneys in addition to the intestines. I hadn't even started this yet, because I wanted Joy on the right diet first, which would at least stabilize her stool and allow her to develop a healthy diet again.

New food

The 90% meat kibble I bought for her she ate well, as long as I diluted it with water to create a kind of broth. But because kibble contains carbohydrates that are not good for her intestines, I ordered a new brand of fresh meat, called Pure Instinct, after a session with fellow students where I learned about other brands. In the flavors Horse / Turkey and Goat. These contain the vitamins/minerals as well as the fibers she needs, so I don't have to add anything myself and 1 sausage contains 500 gr, so 1 meal will surely be enough for her and I can also store the sausages in my small freezer (so many things to take into account).

Old and limping

But now she is limping and I fear the worst: arthrosis. It would be very logical, after years of too much waste products in the body, osteoarthritis can be the next phase. That would mean that her organs are already damaged and that now it is her bones' turn? That's just too much for me to handle. I have texted Karin and according to her, osteoarthritis fits very well in the overal picture, because Joy is already 10 years old. Last week I told a local dog friend that I do not consider Joy to be an old dog yet and that I hoped that she would stay lively for a long time (chasing the ball and all), but now I might have to accept that she is a senior. And I get sad at the thought that she will soon be gone. I can't imagine her not being a part of this family, that she is NOT my right hand guide in life and business.

Joy in my life

It feels so right that Joy helped me make DoodleComfort a reality. She was there from the very beginning. Helped me during the group workshops to give the puppies confidence and keep the older Doodles calm. And during the private workshops she was a beacon of calm, turning into a playmate and source of outlet for my customer's dog after the workshop. She was my support and anchor in more difficult times, my inspiration and rock. She taught me so much, about myself and the person I want to be, about dogs and their power and intuition. Is it now her task to teach me how to take care of an older dog with all that comes with it? That idea makes me very sad and at the same time I know that if that is the case, it was her choice and she fully supports it. So in the last module of my training course, I will check how I can guide older dogs and how I can treat osteoarthritis naturally.

New treatment plan

Of course I'll wait and see what happens in the next few days. Maybe she did sprain herself, as Gerben often accuses me ("that's because of you throwing that ball"), but we haven't thrown the ball for at least 4 or 5 days (we just didn't get around to it, probably because of the bad weather or the slippery surface of autumn leaves) and if she would have sprained herself, she should have suffered from it right away, not just a few days after the incident. No, osteoarthritis sounds more likely. So then we enter a new phase together and our joint work-outs are over. I am already getting wistful at the idea.

To be continued...

Doodle Vitality plans

PS. What I am experiencing right now with Joy could very well be what you are experiencing or are going to experience with your Doodle. Because I recognize the symptoms, know how diseases arise and have access to the right information and natural help and medicines I can do my part to stop the disease process or at least make it more bearable when it is already too late. How many Doodles get sick without timely intervention? How many Doodles are put on hypoallergenic food at a young age (which has no nutrients or building blocks whatsoever), are on Prednisone, Apoquel or other chemical garbage that only worsen the disease process underneath the skin, or arrive at the vet too late with a serious ailment? How many Doodles die from certain diseases, when we could have prevented this if we could have seen and understood the signs on the wall and known how to prevent further disease progression OURSELVES?

For me, Doodle Vitality is becoming increasingly important. I am firmly convinced that no Doodle is born sick (I do think lots of them ARE born with a bad microbiome and therefore reduced resistance, because of unrecognized intestinal problems or other ailments/diseases in the mother dog, a difficult birth, etc.) and that we as owners can prevent many of the most common ailments and diseases by having the right knowledge, insights and tools. In fact, I increasingly believe that by monitoring the health of our dogs ourselves, we get more in touch with our feelings and with nature and discover new powers in ourselves, which are part of who we are, but which we have forgotten because of the reality of everyday life, living in our heads (and losing ourselves because of it). I believe that this time is calling us to take control of our own well-being and therefore that of our dogs as well (because our bodies work exactly the same). No longer should we rely blindly on chemical medicines, but rather we turn to Mother Nature in everything we do, because everything we need is already here (after all, how do you think most medicines were developed? They just threw in a lot of unnecessary crap that causes allergies and other problems). I am committed to learning more and more about how we can stay as close to nature (and therefore our true selves) as possible, and how we can relearn to heal ourselves.

Doodle Vitality membership program

Here in the Netherlands I have already added a Doodle Vitality health check to my private grooming workshops. Starting Januari next year I will also be training the first group of Doodle Vitality Groomers so that Doodle owners here in the Netherlands (and Belgium) always have the right specialized Doodle groomer who knows all about Doodles, how to keep the coat fluffy without shaving and how to approach them in the right manner AND ALSO knows all about Doodle ailments and diseases, how diseases develop, how to recognize symptoms AND how to prevent and heal these ailments and diseases by using the right natural remedies.  

Here in the Netherlands I feel that there really is a need for these special kind of groomers. 

But it's a little difficult to offer the same internationally. So I have been thinking about developing a membership program, teaching Doodle owners all they need to know to A. groom their Doodle in a lovely, natural, fluffy way and keep them free of tangles themselves and B. to give their Doodle a happy, healthy, long life, knowing how to prevent ailments and diseases and how to heal them in a natural way, should they still occur. A membership program like this doesn't exist yet, but I feel like this could my contribution to help owners give their Doodles the best care themselves and through that make the world healthy again. 

How would you feel about such a program?

Lots of Doodle love,
Wanda & Joy

Labradoodle grooming course