Today was a beautiful day for hiking, with the sun shining, the temperature mild, and the ground covered with snow. Being the holiday week between Christmas and the New Year, more people were out in the woods with their dogs – and that is another reason why it was a beautiful day for hiking. Cruising along a trail, we’d suddenly be approached by a lab tearing toward us, mouth open in that goofy lab smile and tail spinning around like a propeller at the rear, or a group of dogs happy to find another friend to add to the pack, racing up and down the trail in an invitation to join them. Big dogs, little dogs, fluffy dogs, skinny dogs, young dogs, older dogs… but not fat dogs. Happy dogs, all.
As a canine herbalist, my specialty is in treating dogs using the medicinal actions of plants. Oddly enough, though, this is the third tier of canine health and a dog with a truly healthy lifestyle would need herbs only minimally. I love formulating and mixing herbs like a mad scientist in the laboratory but, honestly, I’m happy when herbs aren’t even needed.
There are plenty of reasons why we’re seeing so many chronic health issues in dogs these days. We over-breed, we feed dry, processed kibble, and we give combo vaccines until their immune systems don’t know which end is up. But they sit around, too. A lot. We adopt a dog and expect him or her to sleep all day while we’re at work. But it’s not just health issues that we’re seeing. Vets are prescribing Prozac for dogs. Really. And one of the most frequently sought natural remedies for dogs is one to address separation anxiety. Dogs are going stir-crazy.
We see dogs out on their daily or nightly walks, lumbering along next to their humans on our city streets, relegated to the 4 or 6 feet of their lead. Plodding along, stopping here and there to sniff at a urine mark left by another dog plodding along at his or her human’s side.
So, yeah, it was a beautiful day to be out on the trails, seeing all the happy dogs romping freely in the woods. Tonight, as they sleep, I hope their legs are twitching and paddling as they dream of their day running under the pines.
On this New Year’s Eve, I wish for all the dogs of Somerville to be tired and happy in 2011.
And no Prozac.