Sammy – From Lab to Leash
He had no say in the matter. He had no voice. He would never have a toy, a soft cozy dog bed, or a gentle loving belly rub. A walk in the grass to stretch his body and stimulate his mind – that was not in the cards he was dealt. He was born into a litter that was intended for biomedical research. There was only one place he was going after he left his mom and littermates – a wire crate, a sterile room, tests day in and day out. For 6 ½ years, that was his existence – if you can call it that. He was, as they call them, a laboratory research dog. He gave his life to help medical research in order to help humans; the very ones that put him in the lab. To the researchers he was known as PAAA and 0ACI4. These were his identification codes that were tattooed on the inside of both of his ears. He was just a number to them. Just another “lab beagle” as they refer to them – a “wild dog” that could never be re-homed, house-trained or live with people.
After several years of negotiating, The Beagle Rescue League www.beaglerescueleague.org (formerly Cascade Beagle Rescue) received permission to legally release a group of beagles to them. In early fall 2006 PAAA was released from the laboratory! He was FREE! He was FREE! He was FREE! On September 30, 2006 PAAA was rescued by us! (Really, we were being rescued by this loving soul!) PAAA was affectionately named Sam. I knew at that moment that another great teacher has entered my life. My family and I are now the ones with tattoos. Tattoos of Sammy imprinted on our hearts. He is our hero!
There was a whole new world just waiting for Sammy. These dogs didn’t know what grass, toys, cars, children or a leash was. They were essentially puppies trapped in adult dog bodies. It was very stressful for him and the other beagles; but Sammy moved through the transition with grace and gratitude. In spite of all he had been through, Sammy displayed an astonishing level of trust.
That coupled with immense determination and a healthy measure of curiosity, he adjusted extremely well. It didn’t happen overnight; there were accidents, confusion and integrated humane training.
But with a lot of patience, love and understanding, Sammy proved them all wrong. Don’t tell him you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! He had a strong will to enjoy the life he had missed out on. He was able to live like a dog deserved to live. He beamed with love and excitement! He was nothing short of a diamond in the rough! Before our eyes Sammy became a very well adjusted, superbly mannerly dog! Funny thing, no one believes that he was a laboratory research dog but he has the tattoos to prove it! Sammy lives happily with our pack – another dog, a cat, a rabbit, a lizard and a bird. Out of all of them, he is the most polite!
Since Sammy’s adoption; over 100 beagles have been released from laboratories! These dogs otherwise have been euthanized. The Lab to Leash Adoption Division of The Beagle Rescue League is proud to continue its work with research facilities and hope to continue to broaden their working relationships with “labs” to accept research beagles for adoption.
Sammy has acquired many terms of endearments; but the one he hears most often is “Sammy Sage”. What a wise sage being he is. He had not been given a fair chance at life and gave his life to help people like you and me. Sammy could’ve left the laboratory resentful, jaded and angry. He could’ve chosen to use the sharp teeth he has to bite. Instead, he left with joy, gratitude and endless love. Ironically, the name Sam means “God Heard”. Oh, yes he did!
Chloe – A Message of Faith, Hope, Love and Miracles.
Every one of us has a story. Chloe had an incredible and heartwarming one. She is my inspiration for many things; one of which is my store. Chloe made me a better person. I wish I could be half as extraordinary as she was. She was intelligent, gentle, patient, kind- hearted, wise, determined, and absolutely beautiful. She was also a survivor. She was my teacher, companion & my kindred spirit. Chloe was my dog. My beautiful, stoic, yellow Labrador. She was and always will be THE golden dog. I raised her from a young pup but she was the one who really raised me. I say that she was my dog, but as many of you know, we don’t own our dogs, they own us – our hearts, our minds and our souls.
Chloe taught me countless life lessons. Listen to your dogs. They do talk if you are willing to give them the time. Just listen. Dogs really do know better than us. Dogs deserve to eat healthy, live well and thrive. This was one of the countless teachable moments with Chloe. Chloe & her story will always live on. My intention is to share with you our experience on a nutritional and holistic level. When a dog eats organic whole-foods their immune system WILL become strong. That is a proven fact. They will be better equipped to fight disease & have fewer ailments. The result is endurance, happiness & vibrancy. And isn’t that what we all want for our dogs who give us so much love? When a dog eats unhealthy food and treats they suffer. Artificial preservatives have been shown to cause cancer. Replace your dog’s chemical – laden, junk foods with whole foods! As your dog’s guardian return the love by giving them healthy food! Fresh, wholesome, identifiable, real food! If I can help just one dog become as healthy and happy as Chloe, then I did what I set out to do.
Chloe’s story began in the early 90’s; she was a young dog that was getting sick every single day, month after month. There were serious health concerns. I was doing what I thought was the best for her; I tried various types of commercial dog foods & snacks that the vets, breeders, TV commercials & pet stores said were very great. I took her for long walks daily, made sure she got plenty of sunshine, didn’t leave her alone for long, played games with her, provided clean water & many toys, a stress free home and comfortable beds. I took great care of her. But she was not well. Numerous doctors saw her, yet none were able to diagnose the problem. They would conclude each visit with the infamous line of “give her some boiled chicken for a few days”. I was intrigued that every vet I took her to suggested that I feed her chicken otherwise known as “people food” when she was sick. Why only when she was sick I thought to myself. As soon as I gave her the food she stopped getting ill BUT as soon as I eliminated the REAL FOOD, she would regress with bouts of intestinal distress, ear infections, you name it. Hmmm….. that got me wondering. I was also intrigued that she was mentally more ALIVE when I would feed her REAL FOOD. I couldn’t help but ask myself the second question, “Why don’t I just feed Chloe REAL food? Then she’ll act and feel better!”
So I took a chance & I went against all of the dog food “rules” & decided to change Chloe’s food gradually. When I switched from processed dog food and treats to an organic diet, rich in nature’s abundant nutrients, Chloe improved dramatically, she was transforming before my eyes!! What was getting her sick all along was the commercial food!!
That’s when I decided to become her healthcare advocate & submerged myself in dog nutrition. I was fortunate because my background is in dog behavior training, so I had more resources at my disposal than others, but back in the 90’s it was difficult to find educated animal doctors, quantified studies and proven holistic products like I was searching for. But I did, because I was determined to provide Chloe with the healthiest diet and lifestyle that would keep her thriving. What I found was a new approach to a very old philosophy of feeding a dog. It’s really just common sense you see. Dogs are carnivores, right? They were created to eat fresh meat, vegetables, fruit & sometimes a small amount of whole grain. Ideally they should eat this either raw or cooked; whatever is appropriate for them. Commercial dog food and treats are FAR from fresh. When was the last time you saw a wolf eating processed chemically altered food otherwise known as kibble? What is that stuff anyway? And the amount of dangerous chemicals, preservatives and “unidentifiable” animal by-products that are in most of them is astounding!! Did you ever wonder why commercial dog foods are located in the cleaning, household appliance or insect killer isle at the market? That’s just bazaar.
People need to know that it’s really okay to feed their dogs “people food” and they won’t beg at the dinner table! Begging is a behavior associated with distribution of food, not type of food. The concept of “don’t feed the dog OUR food” went out the window with the metal choke collar and shoving a dog’s nose in his business. Think about what nature intended for dogs. It’s not our food anyway.
I learned, with the assistance of several respected conventional & holistic vets, which foods; meat, fruits & vegetables, held the most amount of nutrition, which ones possessed anti-cancer properties, which ones delivered optimum nutrition, the safest foods for dogs and made sure the outcome tasted really yummy. Well, Chloe LOVED it!!! The food changed everything for the better! She was healthy, happy and strong for many years; and I was grateful for that.
Eleven years passed and Chloe had been a picture of health . What more could I ask for. Then came the news no once ever wants to hear. She had cancer and she had a very aggressive type. Five board certified vets saw her and said she only had a few weeks to live. I was devastated. How could this be?! She had a good appetite, was eating the best food, and she was acting normal. I refused to become paralyzed by the disease and watch her die. Instead I set out on a mission like I’ve never set out on before. It consumed every waking minute. I had to find a way to save Chloe but it also had to preserve her quality of life. It just had to. There was no way I was going to put her through anything that was painful or disrespectful. I wanted her to live so that she could LIVE her life not to just be alive and breathing for my sake. I had a ton of faith, hope and love. After 5 veterinarian specialists examined her case and said there was nothing that could be done, I finally found an oncologist that offered the glimmer of the hope I was searching for. We went forward and Chloe was treated. I also recruited a team of veterinary specialists who revised her custom diet and supplements in order to support her body. I was reminded repeatedly by them that organic whole food has medicinal properties. Soon I would find out how true this was.
The results were far from astonishing. Chloe was as energetic as any dog half her age! Not only that but she looked many years younger than she was. I knew it was her diet! Month after month we would go to the oncologist for her to be re-checked and each time she had a super healthy report! Her oncology team had hoped that her remission would be several months. Chloe was in remission for close to 2 years! Even with treatment, the prognosis was about half that time. I was grateful! Not one person would have guessed that she had been battling cancer let alone was going through treatment. Swimming & hiking were part of her daily routine even during that time. Chloe, never had any type of adverse reaction like she was supposed to. I could see all those years of healthy eating and a good lifestyle paying off in dire times.
Those two years during and after Chloe’s oncology treatments were two of the best, happiest and most active years of her life. After almost two years of being in remission, Chloe’s doctor said that she had a relapse. Yet clinically she was still active and full of life AND her medical tests showed a very strong heart and internal organs. I will never forget that day; her doctor scratched her head and said, “I don’t understand, Chloe has outlived every living statistic on this disease!” Wow. I knew that she had her numbers correct since she is one of the top board certified oncology veterinarians in the country. But I also knew there was another key contributing factor to Chloe’s stamina. It was her diet. The food that she ate made her body and mind strong to be prepared later in life to fight the invasion of cancer. Feeding a whole food diet supports a dog’s immune system. Cancer loves sugar and carbohydrates. Well guess what is in most commercial dog food?
Chloe fought until the end and won. Chloe lived for 14 years and enjoyed life to the fullest even up to her last day on earth. Everyone that was fortunate enough to have known her is a better person because of her existence. I’m eternally grateful to Chloe.