"The Peeing Post"
Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature
Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen
This newsletter is brought to you by
Dear Dog Friend,
Farewell to a mentor and friend for 35 years...
I have often referred to the Danish veterinarian Finn Jensen Smed. I met him in 1972, because he was the owner of that Great Dane male that was running lose and mated my wife's little bitch that was in her very first season.... Well, the male had run a little far from the animal hospital because Finn's daughter did not control it as she had promised. Anyway - regardless of this first encounter that certainly started out on a somewhat hostile foundation, it was the start of a very long and very close friendship.
I owe it to Finn for my getting started on studying dog's health - particularly feeding a raw natural diet and resisting over-vaccination and over-use of drugs and chemicals in general. He was a very special vet. He got his clients by doing seminars all over Denmark, teaching people how to limit their visits to the vet by keeping their dogs healthy! Of, course, the veterinary association in Denmark was furious and wanted his business closed. But Finn cancelled his membership and ignored them - and they could do nothing, because his license (that's how the law is in Denmark....) was issued by the government, not the association (as the case is in North America, unfortunately....)
Finn's methods created many enemies. Other veterinarians, pharmaceutical companies, dog food manufacturers, etc. were of course all pissed off by him publicly advising people to not spend their money on that kind of phony crap that all these "sickness merchants" wanted to sell to people who cared for their animals.
His "thundering" was not in vain. He probably got the record number of clients ever for a one-man animal hospital. But he rarely saw any of the clients' dogs... He saw the clients again and again at his seminars, and when they knew how to keep their dogs healthy, there was no reason to see a vet, except in the rare cases of an accident or something very special.
Finn was truly holistic in his entire approach to animal health and in his approach to dealing with sickness and disease. He was famous for having rescued thousands of dogs that literally were given up by other vets, most often by him applying very simple common-sense methods instead of prestigious expensive lab machinery. He always used his hands, eyes, ears, nose, and brain before he resorted to applying technology. He worked together with chiropractors, acupuncturists, and homeopaths on a regular basis. These specialists came to his hospital and treated his four-legged clients with great success. His personal specialty was natural medicine - based on our knowledge about herbs and natural remedies, and he obtained some amazing results with these "alternative" methods, often by combining them with traditional acute allopathic treatment.
I particularly enjoyed working with him around educating dog trainers in the dog associations in Denmark, and we developed some fine courses for this, which I developed further after moving to Canada. It was with great pride I had him review my course materials, and it was a also a thrill to invite him to come to Canada in 1996 and 1998 in order to do public lectures for my students.
Yes, financially, Finn's way of doing things was crazy - but his heart beat for the dogs, and he accepted the fact of not making much money, compared to other vets. As long as he made enough to continue his activities, he was OK. He saw it as his mission to help as many animals as possible by making people understand and respect the dog's nature. It was from him I got the expression, "The dog is precious gem we borrowed from Nature".
Passing 70 last year, his personal health was not the best, though. He actually suffered from some very serious problems for almost 6 years, as he was diagnosed with the same brain disease that killed his father by slowly eroding the brain tissue away, leaving the body as a live vegetable with no cognitive brain function....
The disease did cause problems for his profession - and it caused further trouble for his private life, including his relationships with other people, as his brain simply no longer always functioned as it should. Even for people who understood the background, it was not easy to deal with, Finn himself included.
When Anita and I visited him in January-February, I noticed how the disease was taking its toll. His short-term memory often went totally blank, and his abilities to control his body were not the best. Although extremely delighted by seeing me and Anita, he was depressed and very unhappy about looking into a future where he no longer could do what he loved: help animals and see happy owners being reunited with them. The whole purpose of his life was disappearing out of his reach...
In addition to all my strong personal motives for visiting Finn, we also had some serious business to discuss. Finn wanted me to do public seminars in Denmark, primarily about food. He knew I had developed my knowledge base significantly since 1998, and he wanted that knowledge to get out to his contacts too, reciprocating what we did in Canada in 1996 and 1998. Well, I certainly enjoyed that - and Finn was extremely happy for the results, so that part felt good, despite some serious trouble with the organizations at the beginning. Trouble that I later realized had everything to do with Finn's brain not always obeying his desires...
Another important issue was that I wanted to get his enormously valuable knowledge and experience out to a much bigger clientele than just the clients of the animal hospital. We discussed this project a lot over the phone during the past couple of years, and we both felt we needed to connect in person in order to truly get it "off the ground", for real. We did indeed make very good progress, and I went back to Canada with a strong feeling of hope that this would enable him to close the hospital and devote himself to a much bigger audience. Writing e-mails, doing tape interviews, and discussing things with me did not require constant brain function, as the management of the hospital did. That project, I had hoped, could also give my dear friend a new "license to live" that would fit with his mission - but without the terrible liabilities that soon would be nothing but serious accidents waiting to happen...
However, Finn was worse than both he and I thought. A couple of weeks ago, he fell and smacked his head. He was found and brought to the hospital, and all kinds of checks were made, including a scanning of the brain....
The bad news was that the brain dementia had progressed to the point of him having only a couple of months left before he would no longer be able to recognize people around him.... That basically was the end of "our" project. And it was the end of the meaning with his life.
I knew from my many discussions with him about these matters that he had zero interest in being kept alive in a nursing home. I knew he was very strong in his Christian belief. And I knew he was a man of very strong principles of ethics. He never charged for euthanasia of animals. He did not want any owners to have money involved when it was time to stop suffering for an animal they loved. He felt that the decision about whether or not a life could or should continue had to be made be without financial concerns. And he was adamant about not letting suffering continue when there was no hope of any cure.
I talked to him on the phone a few hours before he euthanized himself. He seemed to be totally clear in the head, but did not want to talk at the moment - which I respected. I had some darn feeling about something not being quite right, but he did not sound depressed, just busy with something else. Also, it wasn't the first time this had happened, so I did not get particularly alerted; I just expected him to call back later.
The next call I got from Denmark was from a mutual friend who found him dead a few hours later. Just "gone to sleep" in his chair in front of the TV, it appeared. But it was the final sleep. The two empty needles were lying on the table next to his bible and the 7-armed menorah with the burnt-down candles.
I know - a lot of people will have trouble with this. I don't. I feel relief that he was able to stop suffering before it was too late. With nothing ahead but a meaningless life in a nursing home, with no brain function to support his mission, no purpose with living, my grief is more about my loss than his. Because he did not lose anything worth keeping... (Actually, I did not lose anything either - what I thought existed was a dream that was not supported by reality. It is just not easy to come to terms with this, emotionally...)
He has done this to many of my dogs. And to many of my friends' dogs. I was always grateful for him doing it, because the reasons were right: stop suffering when there is no more hope that life can become enjoyable. Shouldn't I then respect that he wanted the same for himself when it was his turn to have no possible meaning with his future? I absolutely think so. Regardless of what certain laws and religions might say about this, I feel it is his right to make that decision and execute it. If I had been in his situation, I would probably have done the same...
I wish for him and his family and everybody who will miss him that they will accept his rights to seek the peace he needed - and then continue the work he did in regards to educating dog owners about how to keep their dogs healthy and happy, with that same deep respect for their nature he had.
Rest in peace my friend. Your mission will be continued.
Update on projects
I want to also spread some good news. Although this whole affair with Finn has been a bigger blow to my work than I thought, I have finally been able to get my mind and my voice under control, so I got all the files finished for "The Dog's Social Behavior", and got the editing done. There are now only technicalities left, but some of them are quite tedious and time consuming. We have one particular synchronization problem between sound and picture, which we are having a serious dialog about with the software manufacturer; they weren't happy about this, but they have promised me a fast solution. (I wish they would put a time on what "fast " means - but I know from my own time in Research & Development how impossible it is to do that for a problem you have not yet identified. It is like asking the doctor when I can get well again, when he does not even have a diagnose yet...)
I spent the "downtime" for my voice on totally reworking the pamphlet for the video. It ended up becoming another e-book, in two parts. One workbook to support the video and one collection of homework assignments.
The workbook contains all the important illustrations used in the video, easy to print out if you want. Easy to use also as a quick reference.
The homework assignments really add another dimension to the video. They are all about you and your dog, and how you can apply the knowledge from the video to improve the relationship with your dog. I used a lot of the materials from my weekend workshop on these matters, but changed them so they actually could dig deeper and provide more value, given the home-study situation for the people who buy what now becomes a set of 3 DVDs and one CD. (Yes - I know - it all started with me "just" transferring the video to DVD format....)
The video itself has not been changed. It has only been organized so it is much easier to use. Instead of one continuous 3-hour movie, it is now split into 10 individual sessions that each can be watched as a lesson. A lot of smaller files have been added to frame those sessions so they are easier to understand, comprehend, and use. Also, some of the discountinuities that originally were caused by our attempt to shorten the presentation down to fit on just one video tape have been "filled" out, so things are easier to make sense of.
Yes, we have increased the price, but very little in comparison to the serious extra value, which has more than trippled, in my opinion.
The update of "Raw Food for Dogs" is ready - because it comes in three files now, we had to finish a few adjustments on the web site, and that has been done now. People who bought a past version will be notified directly about how to get their free update.
I still want to incorporate quite a few of the pictures I have received from kind people, showing how their dogs handle the raw food. The editing of that will take quite some time, though, so I decided to publish the update without the picture for now, and then add the pictures at a later time when another update will be due. I simply have to ration my time right now...
It is a bit of a problem with the size of that book - it costs a small fortune to print now... This has made us increase the price on the printed versions, both English and Dutch. And quite dramatically, actually. We are still working on having a "real" book printed - but that project will not make progress the next couple of months. I simply don't have the time until we get all the other "lose ends" finished.
The Dutch translations of "Raw Food for Dogs" and "The Wolf's Natural Diet" are finished - we just need to get the technicalities in place for those. It takes first priority after the DVD project. With just a little bit of good luck, we will be done in less than a week from today.
The Danish translations of the same two are coming with some delay. The translators are two of Finn Smed's closest friends....
We got a German translator engaged for "Raw Food for Dogs"! Planned deadline is June! This should be enough to make sure we have it ready for my engagements in Germany, July 7-10, 2006...
Further, we got a Danish translation of "BrainWork for Smart Dogs" contracted to be finished for the camp course in Denmark, July 15-22, 2006. The original agreement with had with another translator vanished, so we have a little problem with some of the orders we got in Denmark, based on the first agreement. We will contact these people directly to discuss a solution.
Cheers and woof,
If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of "The Peeing Post", or some comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in to dogs in general, I will be happy to know about them. If I can find an answer for you, I will!
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P.S. It is time to decide to join the camp course in Creston, BC for the first week of May (May 7-14). There are only a few weeks let before "it is there"....
Participation is limited to 8 dogs, and if you come in as number 9, or you do not get your deposit in on time before the deadline, you will not participate. That's just the hard facts. So, please do not delay the decision if you want to join us.
If you like spending time with your dog, and you want to learn more about how to get the most our of your relationship with it, then this camp course is for you! The training will be completely individualized, so it does not matter what stage you are at with your dog.
Yes, and family is welcome too! As long as they are under your control... But honestly: do not promise them that you will have a lot of time available to join them doing touristy things, because you won't! When we are done with the training, chances are that both you and your dog will be pooped...
Check the details at http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/campcourses.php - I would love to see you!
(When following the link above, you will also get information in regards to the two planned camps in Denmark in July and August.)