On The Importance of Thinking Different

The Value of Making a Ruckus

Thinking different isn’t always easy. But it can be ever so valuable.

A personal story surfaced recently in the midst of opening a course to new students. The memories helped me to remember that, when the going is a bit rocky, the ground is set for change that can have a wide positive impact.

And, we have a choice: to shake things up, challenge the status quo, or keep our mouths shut and stay within the established norm.

I’ll relate my 11th hour mind shift in a bit, to see if perhaps you’ll be inspired to shift your own mind. My 180 turned out to have saved a whole lot of suffering and expense for pets and their people, though I had no idea till years later.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of human kind as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.

— Helen Keller

Who I Care Most About

I encourage people to join in learning from me when they know something is wrong in the system.

When there is harm coming to their animals, needless expense often accompanying that, and the players in power depending on mass mindlessness to make their profit.

My students are all pioneers to various degrees. They are not afraid of thinking differently.

They come to my courses to step up their game in animal health, even if (or because) my approach is counter to the predominant trends in vet medicine.

You pioneers, in plowing new ground, are bringing long buried seeds to the surface, and the result is often unimagined blossoming in your animals.

That shift in your own animals’ health sends seeds of inspiration out into the world, and we never know how far they fly.

It Starts With Daring

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.

— Brene Brown

Let’s face it: it’s far easier to “go with the flow,” keep to the ways the authorities tell us is right, march to the same drummer as everyone else seems to.

In my case, I’d already “broken the rules” by following an intuition to leave my conventional practice in 1987, seven years after joining it, fresh out of vet school.

It surprised everyone, myself included, as I’d enjoyed practicing in the beautiful Kettle Moraine country of my home state of Wisconsin. I was a partner in a successful 4-man mixed practice and a 5th vet had recently been hired.

But, there was this intuition. Something better for me to do. Unclear exactly what.

I chose to leap.

You’ll have to wait for my book to tell that wild transition story, but when the dust settled, I was in Hawaii, with a ready made family and no vet license, working at a grocery store and camping on the beach, quasi-legally.

Working for the Man. Again.

I caught a break when I was working at the Animal Quarantine Station as a relief vet on weekends. Turns out you could do that without a vet license but with a degree.

Thank you, Island State.

I met the State Vet, Calvin Lum, and he offered me a research grant that would get us off the beach and into a house on the quarantine grounds, to study the rabies quarantine system that dated back to 1912.

What a break! I was overjoyed to take it.

And the work promised to be interesting.

The islands are the only state of the 50 United States free of rabies. And the goal was to keep it that way. If rabies did get established there, it’d be impossible to eradicate, as it would infect the mongoose population that had thrived since the days of the early sugar barons.

Fierce predators, mongooses had been set loose to curb the ship rat population a hundred years earlier. Living in and around human dwelling places, they would become a certain source of human rabies if their population ever became infected.

Getting a J.O.B. from the state was a life raft though I never considered the impact I might make.

Studying the System and One Frightful Disease

I divided my time between scouring journal articles from the big names in rabies research and walking the grounds of the quarantine station. It helped that I worked as a station vet on the weekends, as I got to know many of the quarantine staff.

It was they who fed the sprawling population of barking dogs and quiet cats. They mowed the ever growing grass around the concrete and chain link kennels, changed the litter in every cat cage, accompanied the owners on their daily visits to see their locked up loved ones, and brought the sick ones to the infirmary.

Every dog and every cat, coming from anywhere in the world (but mostly from the mainland U.S.) had to do 120 days of lock up.

That rule was established based on the slim possibility of the pet having sustained a rabid bite just before making the trip to this lush tropical island state.

It was known that rabies could travel slowly in the bitten animal and not show its symptoms of crazy biting aggression for months.

There are no efficient live animal tests to this day to say whether or not an animal is incubating the rabies virus.

Was it unusual to have such a long lag period between being bitten by a rabid animal and showing rabies?

Yes, but not impossible, so the ruling was made to cover that possibility.

Independent With Baggage

I was entirely my own boss. I could set my hours, research as I saw fit, and conclude what ever I wished in a paper that would be the state’s property once I turned it in.

Amid that freedom, I found myself keeping normal office hours, five days a week.

I also found it easiest to think “Hey, the system works.” There’d been no rabies to date, and everyone at the quarantine station seemed relatively bought in and functioning well in the archaic system the State had established.

Even the experts and the other countries who were rabies free (Australia, New Zealand, the UK) were on the same page: a long lock up is what keeps the system working.

So, there it was: everyone seemed to be buying the idea that it worked to lock away pets in a vast acreage of kennels for four months before they were allowed to go to their new home.

Who was I to make a ruckus? Thinking different seemed too, well… out there.

It was with this mental baggage that I began hand writing my draft. To say, in essence, the system wasn’t broken. And all those U.S. citizens coming to visit or live in paradise needed to bite the bullet and prepare for a long lockup of their beloved pets.

The 11th Hour Turnabout

Luckily, a quiet inner voice questioned my position.

Late at night, lying in bed, hearing the barking dogs from my dusty house on the quarantine grounds outside Honolulu…

I had already turned my draft in to the secretary who had begun to type it before I finally listened.

“How much of a rabies risk is the mainland U.S. pet, really?”

“How many of that pet population have been caught in the 120 day quarantine to justify keeping the system intact?” (I had data: it was none since 1912 as I recall)

“Isn’t this group, the mainland U.S. pet owners, actually suffering needless expense and separation from their pets in the name of an outdated system that only makes sense for imports from countries with a lot of rabies?”

Stop the Presses!

The next day, I broke the unpopular news to the secretary who furrowed her brows on hearing it.

“I’ve decided this needs a rewrite. I’ll have a new version to you as quickly as I can muster it.”

Back to work I went, reversing my “good ole boy” position to say instead that, with some vaccination rules and titer testing in place, the quarantine period could be greatly shortened.

There’d be different rules for pets coming from countries of greater rabies incidence, but the mainland U.S. folks needed to stop bearing this cross.

In went the new version, do with it what you will. It was now the property of the Department of Agriculture, State of Hawaii.

Moving On, Losing Track

The wheels of governments move slowly of course.

Before too long, I was offered a job as a deputy state vet for the county of Maui. It meant leaving the barking dogs, the noisy free house and moving to greener pastures and more responsibility.

And, a steady paycheck.

I snatched it, moved lock, stock, and barrel to Maui, worked in livestock regulation, and gave birth to my holistic vet practice on the weekends and evenings. The rest, as they say, is history.

It wasn’t until years later, when I was in homeopathic practice in Austin that I got wind that the quarantine period had been greatly reduced on the islands.

By then, I was so busy treating a stream of suffering patients and living my new life that it didn’t deeply register.

A small piece showed up in a Google search, however:

…numerous internationally recognized rabies experts have correctly advised the state since the mid-1980s that they did not object to a special quarantine exemption for vaccinated guide dogs. They included Dr. Charles Rupprecht, current chief for the Centers for Disease Control rabies branch; Dr. George Baer, former chief of the Centers for Disease Control rabies branch; Dr. William Falconer, former state veterinarian; Dr. Deborah Briggs, director of the Kansas State University rabies laboratory; and Dr. Alex Wandeler, chief of the Canadian rabies unit.1

Yes, it was the guide dogs who helped open the doors in Hawaii.

And, my thinking different had apparently paid off.

While the 120 day quarantine still exists, those who get vaccinations and prescribed blood testing now qualify for a “5 Day or Less” release program when they arrive.

Are You Leaving Safe Ground Behind?

My greatest reward these days is hearing back from my students, readers and clients about the progress they’ve made since breaking away from the damaging medical paradigm.

This course was such a worthwhile investment for the care of my current dogs, as well as any future furbabies. Now I’m armed with good information and will be saying, “No.” from now on. Looking forward to more of your courses.

— Suz Rodriguez on Nosodes, Tautodes & Titers course.

Reading your articles and posts about the detrimental effects of over-vaccinating has opened up a new world for me (and my Collie).  After his second rabies shot he developed chronic skin problems, was miserable and… I started refusing any further vaccinations, (made his food and)… his vet commented that my dog looked and felt better than he has ever seen him in the 5 years he has been treating my dog.

— Dana Flemming

Perhaps my all-time favorite example of “you never know where the seeds will sprout:”

Thank you so much for your support! The visit from the ACO [animal control official] was quite interesting… He stayed almost 2 hours, amazed by how relaxed and well behaved my four dogs and the client dogs were. All dogs were in crates and none of them barked the entire time he was here!

He had endless questions about how I teach the dogs to have such a calm state of mind …  He was genuinely curious about my confidence in not revaccinating and my willingness to pay fines and/or stand before a judge, if necessary. I shared with him the basics of what I’ve learned… I also pointed out the paper trail of vet records that clearly indicate when the itch showed up for each dog…  about 30 days after vaccinations.  I could see his wheels turning; then he said he doesn’t think his dog needs anymore vaccinations either. 😌

— An amazing student who shall remain nameless


So carry on, you brave ones, you pioneers, and let your confidence grow as you grow your knowledge base.

We live in challenging times, full of misinformation, alternate facts, and an erosion of what’s been true since long before we showed up as a species and decided to take over.

I think there’s never been a more critical time to be thinking different.

I’ll leave you with a wise one’s words, and invite you to leave a comment if you find resonance with anything here.

A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.”

Albert Einstein, 1901


  1. Honolulu Star-Bulletin Editorial Column, Guide dogs should be spared from quarantine, http://archives.starbulletin.com/98/02/23/editorial/otherviews.html

Print This Article

Click below, press print, and enjoy offline reading.


  1. Mary on October 8, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    I am reading your blog while vacationing on the Big Island of Hawaii, so the reference to rabies in Hawaii was interesting. I was wondering where all of those mongoose came from – also lots of feral cats here, but I haven’t seen many stray dogs.
    Thanks for the background information.
    Mary Howerton, Austin TX

  2. Shelly on October 8, 2018 at 8:37 am

    I too have not had either of my dogs vaccinated for years now. Two years ago I took my 9 year old American Bulldog for an evaluation of his symptoms, relating to CCD from all of my research. I had daily journals, video, etc of his behavior. Prior to that visit his vet never pressured me into flea, tick, heartworm, etc, medications and would even suggest natural remedies to use, he knew my dogs were raised on a raw food diet, pretty open minded veterinarian. Needless to say they didn’t really need to see him in year’s staying healthy. The last visit concerning his behavior (CCD) he realized his rabies vaccine was long overdue. I explained why I brought him in and didn’t want any vaccinations. He refused to even look at my dog unless I had his rabies vaccine done first! Lectured me about the state law, as well as told me I was putting him in danger of rabies if my dog bit him! I listened to him patiently with my blood pressure rising and when he finished his demeaning speech to me, well it was my turn. Needless to say I was extremely enraged, let him know that nobody knows my dog better than I do, with a few other choice words. We then walked right out of his office never to return. I fired him right then and there! As angry as I was, I also felt confident in the knowledge I gained from you and had no problem standing up for my dog! It was actually liberating.
    Thank you Dr. Will!
    Btw my dog will be 12 soon, treating his CCD holistically and you would never know he had CCD.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on October 8, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Oh, Shelly, you made my day! Seriously? Your vet could get rabies if your dog bit him??? A vet actually said that? That alone is grounds for firing him. If he doesn’t understand the world better than that, he doesn’t deserve a nickel’s worth of business from you! And great job on treating his behavior issues. Carry on, you’ve got this!

  3. Melanie on October 7, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Forgot to mention that I also stopped all vaccines for the past few years.

  4. Melanie on October 7, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    My Golden Retriever is off of Apoquel now, thanks to you!!! I am thrilled!!! 😁 😁😁 She is a completely different dog than she was a few years ago. Her sweet face still bears a few scars from her bloody wounds after scratching so much, but now she is doing very well. I weaned her off slowly so as not to put her immune system into a state of shock. She started raw food about 2 years ago. I saw improvement fairly soon, but knew it would be a process. I searched for answers for a long time; so glad I happened upon your site. I have learned so much along this journey, not only for my dog, but also for my family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

  5. guest on October 7, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Love your article. You made a difference and are still making waves of change for the better. I think everyone needs to learn from this. Make a positive change, even if the masses are all running in the wrong direction. Some will take notice, that there is a better, healthier, more effective way. I share your knowledge and VitalAnimal.com to every pet lover I meet or dog walkers on the street, the park, etc. I tell them this is the most informative site VitalAnimal.com for True Pet Health, etc. In the last few years, I have done almost a 360 degree turn to True Pet Health. No more vaccines, ever. We now use Nosodes to prevent disease. For our puppy, I purchased Parvo Nosodes, Distemper Nosodes, Rabies Nosodes and Lyme Tick Disease Nosodes. My puppy still went to puppy classes and is always socialized with other dogs, out on dog walks, dog walk events, etc. I now feed ground frozen raw meat, organs, green tripe and some bone, with NO HPP NO pressurization. Hard to find, but with searching, and looking on dog raw groups, i have found some excellent raw food suppliers, sometimes at livestock supply store in the freezer or online, and meet to pick up raw delivered monthly to each city, with lots of other true health pet owners, like myself. We no longer use tick flea pesticides. We use different alternatives now.
    For any health issue for my pets or myself, I search online for the holistic, homeopathic or naturopathic alternative for any health issue. I love the Natural Path, there are so many natural things that work, and some work so well, I could now never be without them. I share whenever a pet owner might me open minded to true health. I hand out a sheet with VitalAnimal.com on it so they don’t forget. Some are very happy as this gives them hope in providing better care for their pets. Many pet owners thank me, as they knew all these vaccines make pets sick, but they are scared of the masses, and are happy to find out there are other health minded pet owners who share passion for True Pet Health. Our pets depend on us, so we must learn the Natural Path to preserve their health.
    The Natural Path is the only path to true health.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on October 7, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks for helping spread the word. Your example itself is a beacon for many.

  6. Great story and great information as always. Can’t wait to gain more knowledge. So far, the best homeopathic instructional course I have ever been involved with.

    The pain and suffering experienced recently watching multiple animals die early on has inspired me to help animals at every level possible. I am now planning on starting a natural rearing breeding program. The believers need to continue to believe and never give up. I want to give the next generation of fur babies a proper start in life. They simply can’t do it on their own.

    Keep up the great work doctor. You’re an inspiration to many people.

Leave a Comment