Divot the Dog Celebrates her 14th Birthday in a Big Way!

photo belongs to www.ShelleyGoldbeck.com

photo belongs to www.ShelleyGoldbeck.com

Health Lessons from an Old Dog

Last week our Golden Retriever, Divot, turned 14 and she had a wild and crazy birthday.

It began with a lunchtime party with the Grandtoys, who simply love to have dog parties. I barbecued chicken legs. The wind blew the aluminum foil cover off the pan and Divot gobbled down a chunk of the chicken-skin-flavoured foil before I could stop her.

Peanut butter on rice cakes is her usual birthday fare but this year it was leftover blueberry pancakes with peanut butter. And my Grandtoy had put so much peanut butter on the pancake it stuck to the roof of Divot’s mouth. So funny as she struggled to suck it off! See video of Divot’s party. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSPwqV3D8V8&feature=youtu.be

Finally, Divot and my husband went to see an old friend, Betty, who fed Divot most of a bag of popcorn. Later while hubby was sitting at the table with Betty he heard a slurping sound from the living room. There he found Divot’s nose in a box of chocolates. He dug some out of her mouth and deduced she may have swallowed one or two. Not the end of the world.

As you can see Divot still behaves like a puppy. She has slowed down in some ways: our walks are often strolls. She can no longer jump into the truck; in fact, she can’t even put her paws up to boost herself. She sleeps most of the day.

But the tiniest sign that we’re ready to walk: I brush my teeth, get my phone, ensure I have my Epi-Pen, put on my shoes, any one of those signs gets her excited about our walk. She bounds off the back porch like a puppy. Divot loves people and is happy to greet others as we walk around our neighbourhood, canines less enthusiastically than humans. Her pace going is faster than coming home, something she’s always done, anything to prolong the walk.

We are privileged to have Divot in our lives for 14 healthy years.  Divot is our living experiment. When she was ten weeks old we decided to feed her a diet that was more in keeping with her nature. As a descendent of wolves, we knew she would thrive on a wolf-like diet.

photo belongs to www.ShelleyGoldbeck.com

Divot’s Supper – photo belongs to

Since then she has eaten almost all raw food. Her typical meal consists of ½ cup raw meat, ½ cup cooked brown rice, ½ cup raw veggies like carrot or cucumber. She gets garlic and parsley; she gets fish, olive and coconut oils and some other supplements. An integral part of her diet is the raw beef soup bones she has two or three times each week. They keep her mouth healthy and her teeth cleaned. She has all her teeth and they’re not black, as is expected by this age.

Despite losing most of her hearing and some of her sight, Divot has had few health issues. Apart from some antibiotics for ear infections from swimming in the Bow River, she has taken no medications. At two years old we removed a large wart from her paw. No diabetes, epilepsy or other modern dog ailments. She is not obese and she has never stunk, like most dogs do.

Divot has lived two years longer, so far, than the long range for her breed. We think it’s her diet and lifestyle. If it works for a dog, it should work for humans.

So here is what I recommend based on Divot’s fine example. Eat whole, real food, suitable to your species as much as possible. Not too much. Drink plenty of water. Exercise everyday. Sleep lots. Play whenever you can. Surround yourself with people you love and choose to be happy.

If Divot were a human she’d be pushing 100. And I’ve just shared the secrets to her longevity!

Calgary Floods Expose Human Character

Underpass in downtown Calgary June 21/2013 Photo owned by www.shelleygoldbeck.com

Underpass in downtown Calgary June 21/2013
Photo owned by www.shelleygoldbeck.com

Calgary residents are dumbfounded as their rivers, the Bow and Elbow run amok through downtown and other low-lying areas. As many as 100 thousand people have been evacuated, including hospital patients and long-term care residences. Many small communities in Southern Alberta are threatened by their waterways, which are usually no more than lazy creeks.

It is interesting to observe human behaviour in the face of crises.

Local police and politicians have begged people to stay home, stay off the roads but those pleas are unheeded. People park along the side of our busiest freeway, Deerfoot Trail, to get out of their cars to take pictures of the roaring Bow River. They imperil themselves and other motorists but they won’t stay away.

“Avoid the river”, the news chants, but the TV coverage is fraught with pictures of residents and news crews teetering on the edges of the floods only to scramble away as the waters rise. Pedestrians take pictures from bridges that are moments from being swept away.

Then there are the people who refuse to leave their homes, despite days of evacuation orders. Those stragglers, through their refusal to obey this common sense order, have to be rescued, endangering their heroic saviours and costing taxpayers money for equipment and personnel. As harsh as it may seem, I think the gene pool would be stronger if these  people suffered the natural consequences of their decisions.

We saw this in the Katrina hurricane disaster in New Orleans. People knew the hurricane was approaching their city. They had days of warnings to leave. They chose to ignore those warnings. And when Katrina hit, they moaned and cried that the government didn’t rescue them on time or provide adequate services to keep their sorry butts alive and comfortable.

Personal responsibility is sorely lacking among the general populace.

Then there’s the habit of humans to build their cities on the flood plains of rivers. Some of the most expensive homes in Calgary are within 50 meters of the Elbow River on a good day. I’ve often questioned the wisdom of their decision to live so close to the river. Sure it’s a beautiful setting when all is well, but this is our third major flood in less than 20 years!

I remember my Grade Six Social teacher, the late Herb Hay, describing the function of flood plains, places for the spill-overs of too-full creeks and rivers. The paradox is that the flood plain usually affords easy access to a river and we are naturally attracted to water.

We often question the wisdom of societies that rebuild on the edge of a volcano after an eruption. Yet the residents of High River (a community south of Calgary) seem to mop up flood waters every spring. The entire town of 13,000 is currently (pardon the pun) evacuated; the river has invaded nearly every building in town.

But will they take a clue from their town’s name?

No, they will clean up, rebuild, and then do it all again in a few years or likely, next year. I’m curious how much provincial money has been spent on flood relief in that community over the years.

There have been reports of stores gouging customers on bottled water, a $5 case sells for $50, but overall, Calgarians have been civilized. In typical western fashion, they have come forward in droves to help their fellow citizens. So many have volunteered they’ve been asked to stay away for now.

Social media is full of offers of beds and meals and places for pets to stay. My daughter suggested it was social media that kept us informed and likely saved lives. Certainly it has been an effective medium for the demonstration of our human capacity for charity. I’m proud of my fellow Calgarians, (except the “flood-chasers”, of course).

City services have been remarkably reliable except in the worst-hit evacuated areas. (If you were supposed to leave, you deserve to be in the dark!) Despite the wet chaos, the crisis has been remarkably smooth and safe. It proves that emergency planning and training is effective.

The rain has subsided for the moment and the rivers appear to have crested in Calgary; they’re not yet receding but the hope is no further damage will occur. We have months of clean-up ahead of us and a new-found kindred-understanding of other flood survivors.

My hope is that all will be safe and that we will all be wiser for this experience.