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Published August 05, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Nature often inspires

Dear Dr. Fox: I read with great interest your column about birds and your request for other stories that involve the appearance of birds during an emotional or sensitive time. I had an unusual bird event on the day that my mother died, Dec. 16, 2000.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I read with great interest your column about birds and your request for other stories that involve the appearance of birds during an emotional or sensitive time. I had an unusual bird event on the day that my mother died, Dec. 16, 2000.

My mother had stopped talking and was in a sleeping state. I was alone with her in her bedroom on the second floor of her house. The room was very quiet, until I heard a chirp at the window. This by itself was unusual. I walked to the window and saw the most amazing sight: The tree outside was filled with birds, and not just a flock of one kind. There were representatives of all types – cardinals, robins, crows, chickadees, purple finches, goldfinches, mourning doves, sparrows and one tufted titmouse.

Our minister came to deliver last rites later that afternoon. I told her what had happened, and she said she’d heard of such a gathering before. Nature knows when something extraordinary is happening, and these birds were gathering for the event.

The arrival of these birds continues to amaze me and has given me hope that there really is a spiritual world beyond the living. I ponder this nature mystery and hope that sharing this experience will give hope to others. – J.K., Bethesda, Md.

Dear J.K.: Readers may remember my earlier account of an event virtually identical to what you describe that occurred around the time of my mother’s death thousands of miles away.

Skeptics speak of mere coincidence, but we should not lose our sense of awe and wonder. In the metaphysics of such coincidental events may be deeper truths that we mortals do not yet fully comprehend.

Those whose hearts and minds are open to nature are surely more receptive to such messages or unusual animal phenomena, especially during the passing of a loved one, than are those who are not mindful of a possible spiritual connection between humans and fellow creatures.


Dear Dr. Fox: Last July, I was presented an adorable little female part-Pomeranian dog. She was (and is) a great companion, but no pets are allowed at my condo, so I left her in the capable hands of my son.

Last week he took her to the local vet because she was holding up her right rear leg and walking on three legs. The vet gave my son Rimadyl. My son looked it up and worried about side effects to the kidney and liver. At Wikipedia (a free online encyclopedia), he found a description of luxating patella and thinks this is what’s happening to our dog, although the vet did not mention that.

Please tell us how to treat her so she won’t have to limp. She is about 1 year old and weighs 8 pounds or less. – A.G., Naples, Fla.

Dear A.G.: I have expressed concerns in this column repeatedly over the widespread prescribing of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl, especially to young, small breeds like yours. That is not to say that this class of drugs cannot give older animals much relief when safer alternative medications and therapies such as acupuncture, low-intensity laser and massage therapy do not help. A relatively new anti- inflammatory herbal product, resveratrol canine, is on the market, but I am not sure of published studies of safety and effectiveness.

I think your son may be right – that your dog has a “trick knee,” which is common in small breeds and should be surgically corrected. Seek a second opinion, and if this is the case, then the first veterinarian should be fully questioned and possibly reported to the state board of veterinary examiners and Better Business Bureau.

Diabetes in pets

Over the past four years, diabetes rates in the United States increased roughly 33 percent among dogs and 16 percent among cats, according to a national analysis of pet health by the Banfield Pet Hospital complex. This is associated with obesity, as many pets are overweight. Smaller dog breeds are becoming more popular and are especially prone to develop dental problems and possibly associated diabetes. According to the report, outer ear inflammations are prevalent. In my opinion, these are often associated with food allergy since the best preventive is a change in diet.


Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.

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