The Proof is in the Poodle
I’m taking a brief hiatus from the Meet the Mutts series (Hint: We might be half way done. Maybe.) to highlight a little book, which may be of interest to the pet lovers amongst us.
Disclaimer: To be all above board here, the author of said book, Donna Kelleher, she’s our vet. Our Holistic one. That said, I received no compensation for this write-up. I pay Donna full price for each and every visit, and I will continue to do so. I read her other book, The Last Chance Dog, which I’ve recommended before, years ago, long before meeting her. The author did not ask me to do this review.
Now that that’s out of the way, why would I recommend this book to my dog loving peeps?
The Proof is in the Poodle is essentially a memoir. A memoir peppered with a whole lot of good information about the thought process behind Holistic Veterinary Medicine. Here at Dogs or Dollars, we’ve been in a bit of a dog health crisis lately. Not one, but two dogs with significant mobility issues. I’ve already written about Hannah’s on-going challenges. Unfortunately, Winnabelle’s have come on all the sudden, and appear to be significantly worse. We are also attempting to manage Abbey’s myriad of existing health concerns a little differently as she enters her “golden years”.
We are doing all this with herbs, supplements, the elimination of kibble, acupuncture, a little chiro, and a whole lot differently than our conventional vet would ever recommend. Ever. Even if I’m worried about my dogs (mostly Winnabelle), I am happy with the approach we are taking. My concern is about the dog herself, rather than the long term kidney or liver damage caused by NSAIDs or how the steroid dosage leaves her feeling. It’s not that we won’t use those things if they are our best option. We have in the past, certainly. It’s more that they’ve are become our go-to solution less and less.
The Last Chance Dog was my primer for the possibility of pursuing this type of treatment.
The Proof is in the Poodle was a welcome refresher.
Holistic Medicine is a little different. When we go to Dr. Kelleher’s office, it’s us, the dogs and the Doc. No receptionist. No “back room”, unless you count the closet full of herbs. No scary equipment. She doesn’t run blood work or X-rays. For those things we still rely on our conventional vet, which keeps the conversation open. A conversation is just what it is. Options, possibilities, a discussion about what’s going on with our dogs and what we can (and cannot) do.
These books help you understand such an experience. They are both collections of short stories. Last Chance is essentially case studies highlighting different alternative treatments, and their successes with individual patients. The Proof is similar, but told against the backdrop of a young animal lover’s journey to become a vet. Then navigating her way in the world of Veterinary Medicine, challenging traditional treatment options and finding her own truths. The animal’s stories and Donna’s, are one in the same. They learn from each other. She meets a few amazing people along the way too.
Donna is nothing if not heartfelt and honest. I appreciated the peek into the mind of a vet. The doubts and worries, and willingness to change it up and question. To learn from her patients, and her own pets. She tells all this with as much humor as possible. There is more than a little harkening to James Herriot here. From her own adventures as a child with an affinity for more pets than her family is interested in, to the reaction of conventional vets in her attempts to collaborate, I think she tries to paint a whole picture of her life and her practice. In particular I found her musings on death, euthanasia and hospice care, particularly thought-provoking. She tells a very poignant tale of the process with her own dog. Aspects and implications of that decision I had never considered, and am still reconciling. It’s a window into Holistic Medicine, from an animal lovers perspective, and a very readable story.
At a couple hundred pages each, both of these books were relatively quick reads for me. Their chapter-individual story format makes them easy to pick up when you have a few minutes. The Last Chance Dog contains more clinical specifics about treatments and diseases. Useful particularly if you may not have access to a good Holistic Veterinary community. The Proof is in the Poodle reads a little smoother.
If you are considering holistic treatment for your pet, but not sure what to expect, these are the books for you. Either one of them, really. If you are like me, and just want to know more about treatment, vaccine protocols, and explore other options, these are also the books for you. If you are a crazy pet person, and like a good story, once again, give these a read.