Back in 2002, I got a voicemail from my mom saying she and my dad needed some “puppy advice”. I had no idea what she could possibly be referring to, because my parents have never had or really liked pets. When I finally connected with my mom, I nearly fell off my chair when she announced to me that they’d acquired an 8-week old puppy, a male mini-Aussie they had named “Pete”.
Of course being in the business of caring for dogs, I was full of advice, particularly in the area of feeding, which mostly fell on deaf ears. It was only a few years later when my sister’s dog became gravely ill and she subsequently started feeding him properly that my parents started to listen a bit. They went in and out of raw feeding after that, falling back on kibble for various reasons much of the time. Back in the summer of 2015, they read an article I’d written for Dogs Naturally Magazine, and decided to start feeding raw again. However, for one reason or another, they switched back to kibble in the Fall of 2015.
Throughout all his life, Petey had ‘normal’ dog health problems: occasional vomiting and diarrhea, ear and skin issues, a torn ligament, tumors of various types, and he was overweight. When he developed a large growth on his hindquarter in 2014, my folks had it surgically removed. It came back within a year and subsequently doubled in size two months after they returned to kibble feeding in the Fall of 2015. In December of 2015, they had the tumor biopsied and the diagnosis was cancer.
At that point they once again asked for my advice, and this time they were receptive. I sent them a strict protocol telling them exactly what to feed, how much and when. They took to it wholeheartedly for the first time and did not deviate, tough as it was to break their habits of overfeeding, mis-feeding, and always sharing what they ate with him.
The tumor, which was about 5” across, full of fluid and oval shaped, did not go away. While Petey slowly regained his energy and lost his voice (more on that later), the tumor stayed put. However, the skin on the surface of the tumor got thinner and thinner and it became clear that the body, in its immeasurable wisdom, was planning to send the contents out by creating an opening in the tumor. When you think about it, it makes a lot more sense to send deposited wastes out that way rather than bringing them back in through the bloodstream, although for unknown reasons sometimes the body will elect to do it that way as well. Unfortunately my parents didn’t have the fortitude to allow things to proceed naturally, since it would have involved the messiness of an open, draining wound, so they once again had the tumor surgically removed in May of 2016. It healed well and has not returned this time, of course.
There wasn’t much change in Petey for the first few months after his improvement in diet, except that my parents noticed only a whisper came out when he attempted to bark. It took 6-7 months but eventually he began to rejuvenate. He lost all his extra weight, all symptoms went away and he got his puppy energy back again, wanting to fetch and pulling on the leash during walks instead of my mom having to pull him along like before. His eyes are clear (no cataracts) and his coat is soft and beautiful. The icing on the cake, and the part that none of us knew was even possible, was that he got his voice back. When my mom had inquired at the vet’s office about it, they responded with their typical “it’s old age, nobody knows what causes it, just get used to it” advice. At age 14, Petey is now able to bark like he did as a young dog.
What happened to Petey may seem like a miracle, but it’s not. It’s just the predictable result of people getting the right information, taking it to heart, and putting it into practice. The bodies of dogs are extremely accommodating and resilient but they can’t take unrelenting abuse. And when the internal pollution reaches a level that interferes with its ability to function, symptoms of various kinds manifest as the body attempts to eliminate or store the accumulated excess. A similar situation occurs when your house gets so full of junk and clutter that you can’t function. When that happens, you have a few options available to you. Maybe you’ll rent a storage unit to get stuff out of your way. That’s basically what a tumor is. It’s just the body sequestering wastes behind a protective wall of thickened tissue until it gets an opportunity to properly deal with them. In Petey’s case, that opportunity came when my parents started feeding him real foods — in his case, a combination of cooked yams, cooked quinoa and raw fruit on some days and de-fatted, RAW, Cornish game hens on others. This way of feeding is called rotational mono-feeding, because it involves feeding plant foods on separate days from meat days, which keeps overall fat consumption low, phytonutrients and fluids high. (More on the diet here.) Pete’s body was then able to not only deal with the waste generated by his daily feedings (since all food produces some waste) but also eliminate those contained in the tumor and stored elsewhere on his body. Sometimes when tumors are no longer needed, they are fully autolyzed back into the body. Other times they drain outward. If Petey’s tumor had drained, the surrounding thickened tissue would likely have remained, not causing any problems except perhaps aesthetically.
What afflicted Petey when he was unable to bark was laryngitis, just like what happens when a sick human temporarily loses his voice. When the body ‘cleans house’ via constructive symptoms, the mucus membranes of the throat are enlisted to move wastes out by encasing and transporting them in mucus. The resulting inflammation and outflow of fluids constricts the movement of the vocal cords and hoarseness or a complete inability to produce sound is experienced. It is the transitory cost that the body ‘spends’ for the benefit of moving accumulated waste out. When the internal environment of the body is once again balanced and clean, inflammation goes away and function is restored.
As of this writing, it’s been 18 months since Petey’s cancer diagnosis. Since Petey has had no symptoms at all, my parents have not had a reason to take him back to the vet. I’m sure the industry that profits from our dogs’ suffering would like us to think that Petey’s healing belongs in the category of “spontaneous remission” or that it was precipitated by the removal of the tumor. But we who understand what cancer really is know that a tumor is not cancer, it’s just a symptom — a by-product — and that removing tumors does not cure cancer. It is clear from their having had the tumor removed previously, as well, that tumor removal does not prevent the recurrence of the tumor or the progression of cancer. Only removal of cause can do that. The truth is that Petey’s experience was not a remission at all, it was full recovery. And it absolutely was not spontaneous. It had a cause, and that cause was proper feeding. Today Petey gives every indication of being a very healthy 15-year old dog.
Petey died in January 2021 at the age of 19.5, with no signs of cancer. RIP sweet, most beloved of dogs.