Barfing My Dog Allowed him To Live 22 Healthy Years

Though I was raised in the rural south, I had lived and worked in most of America’s major cities, New York, L.A., D.C. and a few others; but when my mom fell terminally ill, I came full circle back to rural South Mississippi.  A beautiful bearded collie mix that I named “Thor” found me. The vet could tell by his teeth that he was eleven years old.

It was a typical summer day in Lumberton. It was six a.m. but something was very different.  Thor, who usually woke me up at about 6 a.m. was not in the bedroom.  I walked around the house which was a large three bedroom and found him in the living room staring at the wall.  Thor was generally very attentive and every day ran to the door where I hung his leash and put it in my hand and began a “special bark”. I always got the message. “I wanna go out Daddy”.  Not this time. Just a strange stare. I said, “Thor”. No response. I walked over to pet him and this usually very affectionate creature walked away from me and continued his eerie stare.

What was different today? Had I done anything differently? Yes. I had taken him to the vet when he was itching nonstop and the Advantage gel was not working, or so I thought. The vet recommended it might be a food allergy and until he could figure it out, to give Thor an antihistamine daily which I did.  I rushed Thor back to the vet and this time he was certain it was “canine juvenile seizures” and wanted to put him on several drugs that would erode and shorten his quality of life.  Though the vet was ready to write the prescription, I was not ready for Thor to take it. I told him I would go home and sleep on it.  I took Thor home and the first thing I decided was to take him off the antihistamine. Within 24 hours the unresponsive staring stopped, but he was still moving very slowly. He would not eat his dry food, and he barely drank any water.  I was stumped. I knew at thirteen, he was old, and probably not long for the earth, but I was willing to find out if there might be a possible answer.  

I began my Internet study.  There were all kinds of fad diets, herbs, vitamins, etc. all claiming to bring a nearly dead dog or cat back to health. But when I explored it further, it was often a multi-level scheme, with very little nutrition or “life-force” by the time it reached the animal’s digestive system.

Then I found Dr. Ian Billinghurst (www.DrIanBillingHurst) in Australia. He is part allopathic/part holistic vet and veterinarian surgeon, and full of good information. He had just published a book about the B.A.R.F (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods)  and was generous with his time and knowledge with back and forth emails.  He led me to other sites such as and  I joined forums and groups and debated with others as I started Thor on the diet.  

A month went by of Thor still very sluggish and sleeping in the living room on the floor. He had always jumped on my bedroom bed with me at bedtime and slept at my feet.  One night, as I turned out the light, if heard him in the room. He barked twice and jumped on the bed. He had the energy of a puppy. He and I barely slept that night.

The next day, he grabbed his leash and demanded a walk which were about 2-3 miles.  He went through it with no problem.

Several years went by and we moved to the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. Thor had no problems with the adjustment and even at age eighteen was walking 4-6 mountain miles with me.  

His favorite meal was ground organic hamburger with various organic vegetables ground in a food processor. He also loved watermelon, raw chicken and pork (with the bone attached) and numerous other raw goodies.  The secret seemed to be raw. I added a number of herbal tinctures. Most of them were tinctures; many from the Amazon Rainforest.  I added flaxseed, CO Q10 and some other goodies.  

From age thirteen to age twenty one, when Thor’s heart began to give, he spent his life without a vet bill.  I stopped having him vaccinated and bought my own homeopathic vaccine nosodes which worked fine.  Though I sadly watched him slow down dramatically upon reaching 22 years old, I knew it was time. When he could not leave his blanket in my bedroom, I had made a promise to myself that I would have him put down. The vet talked me out of it twice, and I slept on the floor with him on his blanket, his last night with an alarm clock, waking up every four hours giving him morphine. He stopped breathing about 6 a.m. on December 11, 2007. I buried him atop his favorite mountain near the closed part of the upper Dogwood Trail.  I still think about Thor daily as he was the first dog that was my shadow. I’d had dogs all my life but this was the first time I worked at home, and was at home most of the time, and Thor was always at my foot by my desk as I worked on my cartoons.  He inspired numerous cartoons about dogs and cats which are on my website.

I do plan eventually to find another dog at the shelter, and he/she will start on the B.A.R.F diet from the start.  People tell me Thor was lucky to have someone who cared so much about him. Many of them are not dog-lovers and would never understand that Thor gave me so much more than I ever gave him.  One was the ability to love unconditionally.  I grew to believe that dogs and cats are temporary gifts from God so that we can unblock and really learn to love and care deeply about those around us.

Rick London si a writer and cartoonist and founder of Londons Times Cartoons, the #1 Google ranked offbeat cartoons on the net and many licnesed cartoon gift including funny dog & funny cat gifts mugs, aprons, totes, caps and much more.

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