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