Man Kills and Maims Hundreds of Service Dogs

Red Cross service dog, 1909, ItalyService dogs. Are there any humans that even come close to the selfless service they provide humanity? From those who sniff out danger (bombs, cancer cells, high/low blood sugar), to those who rescue lost souls (avalanche or earthquake victims), to those who serve the humans in transition (hospice and hospital patients), these dogs are the epitome of selfless service in action.

I have had the good fortune to help a few in my small corner of the world. Inevitably, I’m torn by the inane requirements they live under to do their jobs, requirements that are at once unnatural and damaging to their health.

The Drug Sniffer Who Loved His Job

One such remarkable guy was Trooper, a ten year old black Lab, who came to me in such a damaged state that I was barely able to help him. His job, the job he absolutely loved, was going to work for his State Trooper handler in detecting illegal drugs.

His handler, David, related that Trooper was originally found in a shelter as a stray and trained for the U.S. Customs border patrol to detect narcotics entering the country. When asked if he was “ready to go to work,” Trooper responded with excited barking and jumping nearly six feet off the ground!

Not only highly skilled and valued, he loved to work. He couldn’t wait to “load up” and head out to his job.

Trooper had been retired at the young age of seven, as he showed the signs of adrenal gland disease, aka Cushing’s: tiring easily, hair falling out, excessive thirst and appetite, loss of muscle mass, and reluctance to jump. David felt extremely fortunate to get Trooper for his work and admitted that the dog pretty much trained him.

This hard working, enthusiastic dog came to me with severe neurological disease, tentatively thought to be caused by a brain tumor. Seizures had begun four months prior to my seeing him, and he’d recently had “at least fifteen seizures between the hours of 10 AM – Midnight.” He’d fall, kick, bite the air, moan, then pop to his feet, pacing restlessly for 30-40 minutes afterwards, and he was on phenobarbital to try to control the convulsions.

Trooper had a litany of chronic diseases: arthritis, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s, warts and nodules, and a chronic cough. He’d been medicated for most of them, often by adding another drug to his regimen as yet another condition was diagnosed. I was finally called as his life was one of near incapacitation, as the seizures overtook him in clusters.

Real Dogs, Real Service

Another patient of mine could smell the blood sugar levels going wrong in her charge, a diabetic girl, and signal her parents to action.

Yet another dog was the calming influence for his girl dealing with autism, and without Joey being there, her life was one of screaming chaos. He travels everywhere with her, and just touching him brings her back from the precipice of angst.

How to Impair Your Greatest Servant

His history reveals why Trooper was so sick. He was vaccinated yearly, and only got a waiver in the past few months when his seizures had become so severe. Besides the usual combo wombo 5-way distemper shot, rattlesnake vaccines were given annually. Toxic pesticides were used against fleas and heartworm regularly. Trooper was fed for years on a diet of Purina Pro Plan (check those ingredients: would you eat something called “animal digest?”) with a recent switch to a “natural” kibble.

The rub, oftentimes, is that the dogs who “sign up” for serving mankind, in whatever form that takes, are usually subjected to all the ills of conventional medicine’s ideas of “prevention,” the same procedures that I see as critical impairments to their health.

We ironically do the greatest damage to those individuals who offer our own species the greatest service.

“He’s Really Sensitive to What’s Going on Around Him”

As a homeopath, I need to learn the temperaments of my patients along with their disease symptoms. Many of my patients are the sensitive sorts who naturally offer sympathy to their guardians when they are feeling down.

Several guardians have been interested in taking their dogs into hospital or hospice settings, and discovered that repeated vaccinations were a necessity to be part of such programs. As if those sick people visited might “catch something” from them that repeated vaccinations would eliminate.

A crazy idea.

If vaccinated for rabies over the age of four months old, these dogs are highly likely immune for life now. Who says so?

Veterinary immunologists.

And distemper? Parvo? Dog diseases, not human ones. Repeated vaccines will only make the dogs sick, not protect the bed ridden patient who would so benefit from a dog cuddling up to her.

[Multiple studies have shown a profound effect on the physiology of patients who receive interaction with animals during their illness]

Rolling the Boulder Up the Mountain

Educating the “powers that be” is usually akin to pounding sand. Not much effect or hope of changing minds in this arena, as the conventional medical paradigm often equates “more” with “better.” If vaccinations are perceived as good, then annual or even semi-annual “boosters” must be even more beneficial.

It’s important that we try where we can, however. Armed with the knowledge that repetitive vaccinations clearly do not boost immunity and the vaccinations are often associated with provoking immune disease (Trooper’s hypothyroidism and Cushing’s are two examples of the many seen), we can write, talk to, and visit those who might sway decisions that affect the service dogs of the world.

Not as easy as “voting with our wallets,” by supporting groomers and breeders and kennels and vets who understand “current on vaccinations” really means “was previously vaccinated in early life.”

As always, you can let your Vital Animals be visible examples of what’s possible in animal health when you step out of the damaging “norm” that is conventional veterinary medicine today.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve found ways to have your animals in a service role without risking their own health.

There’s such a great potential for good to those suffering humans from these valiant canine servants. It’d be a shame to damage them to receive the immense gifts they offer us.

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  1. Laura on December 9, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I had written to you Dr. Falconer, several times, submitting a request for an exam for my 9 year lab, Maggie. I never received an answer from you. I know now it wouldn’t have helped anyway. Maggie was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease in October 2015. She had had it for months as we had noticed her losing energy, panting, not able to jump into our truck, sores on her back and thickened skin, losing hair, all the symptoms. The last 2 months have been torturous to us all, as she started losing her quality of life. Her walks were slower, not interested in hunting, she was the best bird dog around, so strong and tough, would take down any male dog who gave her trouble! I was giving her the Pet Wellbeing Adrenal Harmony and the PetAlive Cushex Drops – M, plus using Colloidal Silver Spray on her sores. Her back, on both sides like a saddle were raw and without hair. She would have good days and bad, but you could see in her eyes she was miserable. This past Sunday, Dec. 6, she first threw up all her food, it looked like what I had just served her in her bowl. Later in the day, she became listless and couldn’t get up. We tried to make her comfortable on her bed, but her eyes were not focusing and her tongue was hanging out of her mouth and it was turning black. She passed sometime early Monday morning in her sleep. It’s was so hard to watch our girl die right before our eyes. What a terrible, terrible disease it is. My heart is torn out of my chest and I wonder if I did enough to help her. I didn’t want to give her the treatment the vet recommended because all the research I did on it showed me that all it did was postpone the inedible, she was dying. She was a lab through and through and so sweet, she really didn’t deserve this. So now I’m so worried about my 6 year old golden doodle, Bella, who has only known her life with Maggie. Both dogs have been fed raw for the 6 years I’ve had Bella. I need the support of this group to reassure me that I’m doing the right thing, I have been waking up at night worried that I’m killing my dogs instead of helping them. I need the guidance at this time.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on December 9, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Hey Laura,
      I’m sorry you’ve had a rough time of this and lost your Maggie after such a struggle. If you’d like to consult on Bella, just visit my Contact page, view how I work and charge, and fill in the form there.
      I’m back to taking some new patients for a spell now, and I’d be happy to help.

      • Laura Scott on December 14, 2015 at 7:49 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Doc! I know you are a busy man and your trip to Indian looked and sounded pretty special.
        My husband and Bella and I are in the process of moving to Ruidoso, NM. We live in Spicewood, TX now. When we get settled, I’ll send a form to you, Bella is doing great but it’s time for a heart worm check and blood work at the first of the year, so I’ll be getting in touch.
        Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  2. Marsha Browne on January 22, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I am so glad I found this site. As to the subject of service dogs, I recently adopted a rescued retired racing greyhound who has the most loving and gentle personality possible. Since I had wanted a service dog and it seemed it was going to be a very long wait and I had fallen in love with this breed, I decided to adopt through a rescue organization. This dog has been remarkable in her abilities to learn, to meet people (whether friends or strangers) or other dogs. She has a daily desire to look at everything each day and is very curious about everything. As to food, I feed her a dehydrated raw food diet supplemented with lots of raw food treats and plenty of raw veggies and fruit. She loves everything I eat (I am a vegan) except of course the things dogs can’t eat. She has never turned down any food yet. One of her favorite veggies is steamed broccoli and carrots. She loves bananas, raspberries, and coconut yogurt. All this is organic food because I believe she should eat human grade food just like me. When she came to me, she had a flaky skin problem and I immediately added a tablespoon of coconut oil to her dog food alternated with hemp seed oil and flaxseed oil and her skin cleared right up. As to vaccinations, I agree with the majority that they are not good for out pets any more than they are good for us people. It’s just as important to maintain a healthy immune system in pets as well as humans. I believe that vaccines today hamper that process. As to the colloidal silver, my dog had a very bad red itchy spot that she was repeatedly itching and I applied colloidal silver to it and it cleared it up so completely that my dog stopped licking it all together. And, since it is antimicrobial and antifungal, it doesn’t hurt the dog if she licks it. I definitely believe in holistic practices because I also massage my dog as well and she loves it! She broke her (R) rear leg on the track during her 105th race and had to have a plate, screws, and part of a bone from her front leg put in to repair it. I also will be doing some aromatherapy and maybe some yoga and any other modalities that will make her more comfortable and relaxed. Her name by the way is Tiff.

  3. Esther on January 20, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    About 20 years ago I used to belong to Pets on Wheels, and yes all these organizations require repeated vaccinations. Two to three years ago I heard that on top of the vaccinations the requirements were made worse when some organizations decided that dogs visiting hospitals, nursing homes etc. could not be on a raw diet. So there you have it, repeated vaccinations combined with a lousy diet would lead to the diseases that you mentioned above. Although I have a breed perfect for this kind of job I left Pet on Wheels a long time ago because of the vaccinations requirements.
    You are right Dr. Falconer, writing, talking to and visiting those who might sway decisions that affect the service dogs of the world is not an easy task.

  4. Randa on January 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    My 14 yo Terrier is the love of my life and she has lyme, cushings, arthritis, hyperthyroidism and chronic bronchitis ~ all of which are somewhat under control. No more seizures or hair falling out or inability to move. She runs and jumps and has a shiny smooth coat, but she does cough quite a bit, which of course scares me but does not deter her from a quality of life.
    I use oil of oregano, astaxanthin, krill, turmeric and cushex, as well as an occasional multi-vitamin. Getting this stuff into her is a slight challenge, so recently I have been using colloidal silver which is a dream because I can just add it to her water.
    Dinkum is originally from Australia and has travelled all over the world with me, and there have been large segments of time when I was hungry and homeless. Thus, so has she. So she has been a bit like a working dog as described in your article.
    Fact is, since I have stayed away from vaccinations and anything the veterinarian prescribes (she gave me a narcotic for Dinkum’s cough for chrissakes) Dinkum is getting steadily better. She is old, but she is strong and the key is natural remedies.
    Now since everything on the planet has gone radioactive to a greater or lesser degree, I have also added spirulina and chlorella to her protocol. She does eat the snow which I know is not healthy, given the condition of our atmosphere.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Randa,
      I think you’ve done remarkably well, from the sounds of it, and a key is avoiding more vaccines and suppressive drugs (which I liken to a piece of black tape over the oil warning light on your car).
      All the best going forward with her.

  5. Sandra on January 20, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Are there cases that just cannot be helped? We have been working with a holistic vet for the past year and our rescue lab mix is suffering today as much as he was when we started. Severe itching, hair loss, diminished vitality… Vaccinosis is the main issue, but it seems that there are additional immune system problems too. We’ve done homeopathy and he made good progress, but then the progress stopped, so now we are doing nutritional supplements with initial good results. An attempt to detox with Parotid pmg has put him into another tail spin. We are failing this beautiful young dog and feeling helpless about it.
    Any thoughts?

    • Randa on January 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      I have had really good results with colloidal silver ~ “Sovereign Silver”

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Sandra,
      I’d be surprised if a young dog with his disease largely “on the outside,” i.e. itchy skin, is incurable with carefully prescribed homeopathy. Though some of these guys are very tough, especially if there are no distinguishing symptoms beside “I itch!”
      I have lost a case or two to allopathic medicine after trying diligently for a long while, but they were more the exception. Sometimes, if I was struggling to “see” a case clearly enough to find remedies that helped, I’d refer it to another homeopath for a fresh set of eyes and a different mind.
      The key is that you’re dealing with chronic disease, and that’s best done with professional help. It’d be rare to get them all the way to cure with supplements or diet alone.
      Best of luck with this guy. “Young” and “itching” makes me think there’s hope for him

      • Gudrun Jenkins on February 17, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        I just lost my Chihuahua last night. He was almost 10 yrs. He had itching skin, an allergy, and the vet gave him a shot to stop the itching. He was read from scratching in many places. He had lost weight, about 4 lbs. and had lost interest to go out at times, I think he had pain in his joints also. I took him last Thursday to a holistic vet, and he is the one which gave him the shot. He said his heart and lungs were good. I had blood work done late December, and that vet. said it came ok. out. But yesterday his breathing got heavier, and at dinner time, he looked sick. I was not sure what to do, to take him to the hospital that fragile as he looked at that time. Then he walked toward his bed, I think, and his legs gave in, and he fell on the floor. I think he had a stroke, his eyes were fixed open, but still breathing, but not hard. But he was laying totally different on the mat, than he had ever done before. I knew that he was going at that time. Then he let out 3 breaths, and died with his mouth somewhat open. I want to know what caused his sudden death? I really don’t know. I am guessing possibly diabetes. I have already buried him in my backyard. I feel so sad. Can you tell me what you think might have taken his life?

        • Will Falconer, DVM on February 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

          Hi Gudrun,
          I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s impossible to know without an autopsy, but there must have been some serious pathology going on to die suddenly like this. Be sure to inform your vet who gave the shot and see what you can learn.
          All the best, Gudrun. A hardship to lose a loved one, for certain.

  6. Lori on January 20, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Hi Doc! Were you able to get him well? It would be awesome if he got better so that he could go back to work, maybe part-time to show others that there is a better way to keep these hard working dogs healthy!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      No Lori,
      He was unfortunately too advanced in pathology. I was able to briefly help him, but then he was lost to follow up (meaning, I didn’t hear from his guardian again).
      In homeopathic literature, the old masters call this “moving towards ultimates,” meaning the end of the line, when what can go wrong does, as there wasn’t timely curative treatment instituted early enough to change the course to a healthy one.
      A shame when this happens, but there’s only so much a body can withstand, what ever the species.

  7. Margarat Nee on January 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve always thought that the stress of service work makes them vulnerable too. Not that they don’t enjoy the work, but precisely because they take it so seriously. I’ve always felt they needed more in terms of flower and gem essences, energetic body work, and of course the things you mention here.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Interesting angle, Margaret. I suppose it depends on the temperament and the job. Flower essences make a lot of sense for those who carry their burdens too seriously.

      • Lizzy Meyer on January 31, 2014 at 7:35 pm

        I am with you, Margarat.
        I have worked with a few service dogs including police dogs. They absolutely do experience the emotional stress from the job. If you think about it, they are very connected to their handlers and the environment where they are working. It makes perfect sense that these animals could soak up that stress, which is why I think all those handlers should have Rescue Remedy at LEAST. Some good balancing energy work would make a world of difference in maintaining their emotional and physical balance.

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