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Poppy at Bluecaps

For those of you wondering how Poppy was getting on since I last wrote, I thought I’d  post a brief update. Nothing whatsoever to do with languages or translation, but I’ve had so many lovely messages wishing her well that I thought you might like to hear the latest news on her progress.

The day after my last post, I had managed to get an appointment for Poppy to see a holistic vet 35 minutes’ drive from here in Forest Row, a veritable mecca for alternative medicine, trendy schools and ley lines. A herbalist friend had recommended the vet and I’d also read up on Poppy’s condition (vestibular syndrome) online and found a wealth of reports suggesting that this particular condition responds well to alternative treatment. Certainly, all my conventional vet had said was that it would be a long, slow recovery. She hadn’t been given any medication other than anti-sickness tablets, but as far as I know she hadn’t even been sick!

Ashdown Forest

Off to Forest Row we went on a glorious autumn morning. It’s a beautiful drive from here, through the stunning High Weald and along the fringes of the renowned Ashdown Forest (home to Pooh, Eeyore et al), so I for one was happy to get away from my desk and looking forward to a successful trip. I left Leo at home with a friend as the first appointment was supposed to last 1 hr 15 mins – a long time for a bouncy labrador to sit in the car, patiently waiting.

Our vet, Birgit Ahlemeyer, had originally trained as a vet in Germany, but had become increasingly interested in holistic treatments for animals. When she met an Englishman and moved over to England, she decided to specialise in this area. Her consulting room is currently her conservatory at the back of her house in a tree-lined close backing onto woodland, which immediately put Poppy at her ease. She’s had so many emergency trips to the vet over her lifetime that she immediately panics and goes into extreme anxiety mode when she enters a standard vet’s surgery, no matter how nice the occupants!

We had a lovely chat, not just about this particular problem, but about Poppy in general, what she likes and what she doesn’t, what other conditions she’s had over the years (many!) and her general state of health. We talked a lot about diet and the fact that most modern petfood is far too processed and that the resulting build-up of toxins can cause problems when pets reach a certain age, as can the constant application of extremely potent flea and worming treatments. When you think about it, we don’t put such toxic chemicals on ourselves – or at least I don’t! And I certainly don’t eat processed or convenience food in any form – so why should we expect our pets to? Birgit recommended a raw bone diet, which majors on raw food, vegetables and bones, so that is what I am working towards. Easier said than done with Poppy, as she has never liked the sensation of raw food in her mouth and struggles with anything too lumpy or sticky because of her faulty pharynx and lack of swallowing mechanism. We’re working on it – for now she’s having a lot of puréed chicken and vegetables with good bone broth, and the occasional spoonful of raw tripe added in. Leo, on the other hand, is loving his raw tripe and whole chicken bones – I think he thinks his birthday has come!

Poppy with needles

After the discussion, it was time for Poppy to have acupuncture. Now I’ve had acupuncture myself for tennis elbow and other ailments and am a great believer in its effects (as long as you don’t immediately go back and do the thing that was causing your problem in the first place!). Others may be more sceptical, but with animals there are no preconceived ideas, no will for this or any other treatment to work. What happened next was therefore quite remarkable: Poppy stood, good as gold, while the tiny needles were applied at various key points over her body. If anything, she seemed to relish the attention as we talked and stroked her throughout! When the needles were removed, there was an immediate improvement in her mobility, and, most amazing of all, her cloudy eye, which she’s had for a good couple of years now, was much less cloudy: from 80% opaque to 25%. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes! She had another session this week, and seems to have improved again – quite incredible!

She also prescribed some homeopathic remedies and this week has introduced some powerful Chinese herbs specifically tailored to Poppy’s overall symptoms and character. Fascinating. She also prescribed Vitofyllin, a conventional drug which works particularly well for vestibular syndrome. As Birgit said, she’s a vet first and foremost: if something works well, whether it’s conventional or natural medicine, it’s always worth a try.

What with cod liver oil capsules and Joint Force tablets (with green-lipped mussels) for her joints, and all her new natural medication, it’s a wonder Poppy doesn’t rattle! But if it seems to be doing the trick, all to the good. I’m now walking her twice a day, admittedly only for 10 minutes each time, then leaving her in the car while I take Leo for his longer walk, but I can see she’s happy to be out and about again. Leaving her at home isn’t an option due to her separation anxiety – more pronounced than ever after this recent health scare….

Poppy and Leo autumn walk

Onwards and upwards! I’m just very glad I work from home so I’m here to support Poppy through this new stage in her life…. As for Leo, he bounced back very quickly after a shot of probiotics, and some of Poppy’s invalid diet of chicken stock, plus carrot soup and slippery elm (thanks to Angelika and Frances respectively for the suggestions!) and is now back to being as full of vim as a butcher’s dog 🙂

Leo in the woods