Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Daily Yoga Practice

My office is a beautiful outdoor area surrounded by cedar trees and filled with wildlife. I spend my days with as many as 20 dogs in my office - this is a job I cherish. My self-imposed job description includes providing the dogs in my care with a quality experience through exercise, socializing and training. The most important part of my job is being a compassionate leader for my temporary daycare pack. If they do not look to me for and receive leadership the result would be chaos. In order to fulfill this role I draw from what might seem an unlikely source, my yoga practice. The dogs help me to understand the importance of clear intention and being completely present in each moment. This is the way they live and this is the way I communicate with them. I practice yoga every day with the dogs by watching my breath, posture and intention so that my confident leadership ability is evident. Dogs are keen observers of human behavior and these subtle cues mean a great deal to them. In the evening, I roll out my yoga mat and practice traditional poses. The dogs are not invited to this private session. My oldest animal companion is a 20 year old calico cat named Quita. Her geriatric body is thin, and what used to be a thick long haired coat is now sparse and tattered looking. Given her medical issues, I am amazed that she is still with me. She has a strained look in her eye of an old being holding out for some final mission. Quita hobbles from her bed to take care of essentials of living and not much more - until I roll my yoga mat. As I start my practice, Quita crawls out of her bed over to the mat and quietly sits by my side. As I begin to move through a series of poses, she curls up on the edge of the mat leaving me enough space to continue my session. This cat has spent more time with me than any other living soul. She knows me much better than I know her or myself. Her presence on the mat indicates she wants to be a part of this open, balanced flow of energy. Perhaps she doesn’t want to leave me until she is certain I know how to maintain balance. On nights that I am particularly worried about crazy things that don’t really matter at all, she will hobble across the room and drag herself onto my bed. Her purring has an ancient, sporadic sound to it as she rubs her head forcefully against mine. She is telling me that the yoga mat is where it’s at. When Quita does leave her physical body I will always know where to find her. Quita 1987 - Dec 5, 2007

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Des Moines Pet Festival Aug 26, 2007

The Des Moines Pet Festival August 26, 2007 Creekside Critter Care participated in the Des Moines Pet Festival last Saturday along with other local businesses and vendors. Maryellen Elcock and Linda Hermanson greeted visitors at the Creekside booth which was located next to Cindy Hickman from Aqua Dog Spa in Kent. We had a ringside seat for the Agility demonstrations which included a long time Creekside Daycare client, Archie! If not for the proximity of our booth to the agility ring, Archie would have had a near perfect run. As it turned out Archie was quite sure that some of his daycare friends were watching and made a stop on top of the agility obstacles to look over to the Creekside booth. This is Team Archie’s rookie year and they no doubt have a long and successful agility career in their future. Pictured below are Gary and Archie (“Team Archie”) as they prepare for the demonstration.
Also in attendance at the Pet Festival were Murphy, the “Retriever-Bichon” and Carla . Murphy is quite sure he could have run the agility course with a perfect score with absolutely no training !

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Pet Food Recall Update and Call to Action

Dear Friends, Since March 16 more than 5,600 pet food items have been recalled after the discovery of contamination with the industrial chemical melamine. Please be aware that today , May 2, Menu Foods expanded once again the items on the recall list. Check the FDA recall list http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/ for updates on recalled items. The list of contaminated protein sources has also grown from just wheat gluten and rice protein to include corn, soy, mung bean and other protein (amino acid) additives. As pet care professionals, we are outraged by this, the largest food poisoing incident in U.S. history. We are deeply saddened by the loss of two of our clients, a dog and cat, as a result of ingesting tainted food. Initially, the FDA would confirm only 16 deaths associated with the food poisoning but on April 27 they reported 17,000 consumer complaints (1950 cats and 2200 dogs deceased.) The largest nationwide chain of veterinary hospitals, Banfield, has extrapolated from data they collect on clients that here could be as many as 39,000 pets affected by the poisoning. What you choose to feed your pet is the most important choice you make for their health and longevity - you have complete control over this aspect of your pet's life. Can we honestly say that we believe that a highly processed cereal based food is the ultimate nutrition for the etire life of our dog or cat? Could you eat wheaties for your entire life at every meal and be healthy? Feeding your dog or cat wholsome, fresh food is the best way to provide optimal nutrition. If your Vet can not provide you with advice on home prepared meals find another Vet or check out resources posted on the Creekside Critter Care website for preparing meals for your pet. Perhaps you never use commercially prepared foods - fantastic - but chances are you know someone who does - encourage them to think carefully about what they are feeding their pets. Could it be the the illness and untimely deaths of our beloved animal companions should serve to alert us to a broader danger in our food supply? This week we hear reports of pigs and chickens ingesting contaminated feed entering the human food supply. The FDA tells us that there is "minimal or no risk" associated with such an exposure - this is an easy claim to make when we have no experience with such an exposure. This week the FDA is testing a range of foods we consume every day from bread to infant formula. At this point, there is no doubt that the poisoning extends to the human food supply. We man not get sick and die like the thousands of cats and dogs but make no mistake - there are human health consequences as a result of chronic exposure to chemicals in our food supply be it melamine or pesticides. Let's think about our food choices and reduce demand for food stuffs that are cheap, convenient and inferior. We can all make a difference with simple every day purchasing power. Summer is just ahead of us take a trip to the local farmers market and make a meal with fresh ingredients for you and your pets.- see The Honest Kitchen website for great free pet food recipie ideas (www.thehonestkitchen.com.) Wishing you health and well being, Maryellen Elcock, MPH, PhD .

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pet Food Recall

The recent recall of certain dog and cat foods - see www.menufoods.com/recall for a list of all foods involved in the recall - is a perfect opportunity to rethink what you are feeding your companions. Commercial dog and cat foods, while maintaining that they provide balanced and complete nutrition, in truth can be made with substandard ingredients that you would not catch yourself putting close to your own mouth. It is important to select wholsome protein sources to feed a pet and this is usually best achieved by preparing your pet's food. The pet food industry will have us believe that eating one processed food for their entire life a pet can remain healthy and happy. I dare any one of us to eat a bowl of processed cereal for the rest of our lives and maintain optimal health. It is simple to prepare a home cooked meal for your pet with some oatmeal or millet, grated or chopped vegtables (a bag of mixed veggies can work) and some canned fish such as mackerel, salmon or sardines. If the fish is off-putting try hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese. Add a multivitamin to the meal and you have a wholsome offering for your pet in minutes! At the very least, a switch to higher quality food such as Natura food products www.naturapet.com that can offer your pet a healthier alternative to inexpensive commercial brands. One of our favorite kibbles for dogs and cats is Innova EVO. There are no filler grains in this high quality, high protein food and our pets love it. Creekside Critter Care provides free delivery of Natura products and other high quality pet foods in our client service area.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


1. Communication My dog noses a box Tossed in the corner weeks ago. I find stale dog cookies in a baggie among old bills, cords and receipts. I give him one. Not statisfied, He sits by the box and stares at me. I sometimes miss his signals. Like the time he bopped me in the ass with his nose; The gate was open. I eventually figured out what he was saying, but Emma had escaped by then, Or when my girlfriend was frantically packing to leave for good She searched everywhere, unsuccessfully, for Emma's collar. He watched her rummaging under the sink form the couch - ears back, Then sat by her side and stared at her. She patted his head - poor dog doesn't know what's going on. Now he has that same wide-eyed look. I go sit on the floor by the box. As I empty it, I find Emma's collar. He looks at me as if he is going to cry, climbs into my lap, buries his nose in my armpit. I guess we haven't really discussed it. - Joe Elcock