A Vital Blast from the Past
I had the great fortune to chat with a client recently who I’d not heard from in probably twenty years. She’s done something quite amazing that answers perhaps the most aggrieved question many of you have:
How can we raise a vital animal and avoid vaccinations when there are all these rules about rabies vaccination being mandatory?
Marilyn has trail blazed this vexing area successfully, with a now 15 year old dog she’s brought through many, many shows. All without a single vaccine, including rabies vaccination.
Yes, you read that correctly: showed her dog, repeatedly, to champion status, with zero vaccinations, including the one with all the laws about it.
Knowing this is such a hot button for so many of you, I interviewed Marilyn, so you could learn what worked for her over all these years.
[Important Note: Are You Just Joining This Conversation? It's important to understand rabies vaccination deeply. All vaccinations can cause harm. And repeatedly vaccinating an already vaccinated animal throughout life doesn't even work (say the immunologists who study this). So, if you haven't already read this information, it'd behoove you to do so before getting the idea that I recommend no rabies vaccines across the board. That's clearly not my recommendation.]
It all began with a response to an earlier issue of Vital Animal News that Marilyn received last year:
Consulted with you years ago to retrieve my aging Wheaten Terrier. You brought her back to life!
I followed your lead, and reared a lovely Wheaten all vaccine free and raw fed. She is now approaching 16, vibrant healthy and is everything you promised it would be! Also a show dog, so that was a journey to stay away from Dr. WhiteCoat!”
When the Decision to Avoid Vaccination Was Born
WF: Amazing, Marilyn, and I know my readers would love to hear more about your journey. What made you decide not to vaccinate Suzi at all, including the rabies vaccination?
Marilyn: "1981 I bought my first Wheaten in Germany. He was American bred by an American breeder. I vetted this 12 week old puppy to fly back to the USA with him.
A British veterinarian happened to be working in the American military animal clinic. He warned me of the health danger of the rabies vaccine, “The most lethal one out there!" He was devastated to vaccinate at 12 weeks because the dog would have to be re-vaccinated at 6 months, by American law."
[In case you think this is hyperbole, you can read about Tigger, who nearly died twice from one rabies vaccination. As I write this, in fact, I've just heard that he's almost out of red blood cells once again!]
This revelation set my wheels in motion to begin to question! Eight years later, this dog was diagnosed with PLN (protein losing nephropathy, an incurable type of kidney failure -editor). I wondered what shape his immune system was in, so I ran tests for IgG, IgA, and IgM. His immune system was wiped out! I think this was the trigger that caused the kidney failure."
A New Generation: A Second Chance
Suzi, another Wheaten Terrier, came straight off her dam onto raw food. No vaccinations at eight weeks or ever.
I brought her to you when she was three and wanted to show her, but worried about no proof of vaccines, especially rabies. You taught me to be bold and to avoid biting issues and to not fear.
I took your advice, went to dog shows and was not ever asked to show vaccine proof! Suzi finished her championship easily!"
Your Papers Please
WF: In all those shows, did you carry a health certificate or some official papers?
Marilyn: "I found a sympathetic holistic vet who examined Suzi for health certificates before we’d travel to shows. I simply had a health certificate signed by a DVM. I was not ever asked for any proof beyond this."
WF: Did you never have anyone look carefully at your health certificates and notice Suzi had NO vaccinations? I’m grinning, just thinking of it! It’s like my post of flying with dogs. Rarely even a glance at the HC.
Marilyn: "Nobody ever asked to see this form, or the forms written similarly by other vets through the years.
I just don't know any of my friends who were ever asked for a health certificate at any dog show. I have been involved in showing dogs for 30 years. Never ever asked for any vaccination proof!"
[The "health certificate" here refers to a letter, on the vet's stationary, that stated all of her pertinent data and had some typed in blanks that were then checked off by pen, for "Current on all vaccinations" (oops), "Free from infectious, contagious, or communicable disease," and "In good physical condition."]
But white lies aside, these forms were never asked for or looked at.
Not once, in years of showing, in various states.
[As an aside, I wrote about the all important attitude that goes such a long way to you saving your animal from unnecessary vaccination “requirements.” You may want to review this before you set out to champion your Vital Animal’s path in the world.]
Raised Amid Real World Germs
WF: I take it you never kept Suzi in a “glass bubble” then: she got plenty of exposure and built a natural immunity to the other diseases. Were you ever concerned for her immunity, not having had any vaccinations?
Marilyn: "Suzi did not live in a glass bubble! Her paws touched lots of ground and travels with us everywhere to this day. Not a sick day in her life! Her titers were strong for immunity. Rabies titer was strong, too, but not recognized legally -- or wasn't then. Hopefully that might change. I wish!
Unvaccinated dogs at dog shows build up strong immunity from the urine and feces exposure from recently vaccinated show dogs! I had Suzi titered for some of this stuff early on and her immune system showed strong immune protection for all, including rabies! Wow!"
WF: Wow, indeed! Even rabies titers, without ever getting a shot?
Marilyn: "Yes! Even for rabies! I did not save that info, sent to Jean Dodds. Shows that rabies protection comes from the multiple vaccinated dam!"
And Still Ticking!
WF: So, at 15, unvaccinated and a champion to boot, is she still a healthy girl? Was there more to it than just avoiding vaccines?
Marilyn: "Suzi is doing well, has lumps & bumps in various places but bounces around with vital energy so I respect her age and her space. Always at the food bowl! I supply raw goat milk for her, raw duck eggs, organic varied protein and formulate her food myself. She has been flea free all of her life! Such a delight to live with and just perfect!
I attended two Ian Billinghurst seminars … very round table both times. What a wealth of information understanding the role of Omega three fatty acid, how important it is, how that fragile fat can swing into arachidonic acid by adding sugar to it!"
In a further note in our exchange, Marilyn pointed out to me that all of Suzi’s littermates are dead! Suzi, who’ll turn 16 in April 2015, is the only one of the bunch raised entirely without vaccinations.
Further evidence to substantiate my long held argument that vaccinations are the single-most important decision you will ever make on behalf of the animals (or children) in your care.
How To Raise a Vital, Vaccine-free Animal?
So, there you have it. This dog was raised as a vital animal from the beginning, by a person who had strong intentions of keeping her healthy and vital and who knew the possibilities of illness that came from vaccination, having seen it herself in previous dogs.
Suzi’s raising included:
- Being weaned right onto raw food
- Regularly changing her protein source
- A complete absence of vaccinations (likely Marilyn’s most significant decision)
- Close control of her in public places, coupled with a sweet personality (which meant she’d never bite anyone)
- Natural exposure immunity from highly concentrated dog exposures (dog shows!)
- A holistically-minded and dedicated vet who examined her and issued the necessary health certificates to travel
I might have advised one more helping factor in all this, which would be using the Transfer Factor Canine Complete during her exposure time and even now, in senior years. That would have helped Suzi's immune system to maximize its intelligent response to the germs in her world, and now, prevent the lumps from turning into something more serious.
But it's hard to argue with success, isn't it?
Can you learn from this example? Could you see this working for you? Let us know in the comments.