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News from Optimum Choices, LLC

November 2006

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Current news
Fall Sale
Oil of the month
Why all dogs need positive training
Book of the month
Contact us

Current News

Holistic Choices e-Book just published

Optimum Choices has just published the first e-Book in our new Holistic Choices e-Book series: Optimum Nutrition for Dogs & Cats. We will be publishing a series of e-Books that combine previously published newsletter articles with new information. This saves you from having to dig through all our past electronic newsletters and online articles searching for information on a topic. You can quickly learn about the topic by reading our e-Book. Our first e-Book on nutrition for dogs and cats covers the information on nutrition that we present in our Natural Pet Care class. If you missed taking the class or are not in the Denver metro area, you can now "attend" our class electronically by purchasing our e-Book. For more information, click here.

Doggie Massage Class

Saturday, November 4, 2006, 1:00-3:00 pm

My Pet's Place
(behind Redstone Animal Hospital)
9111 S Santa Fe Dr
Littleton, CO 80125-9794
(303) 683-0330


Click globe for map

Cost: $25 per person (so 2 people bringing one dog would be $50)

Dogs have muscles too! Massage is no longer just for humans--dogs can benefit just as much as humans. Come learn how to help your dog feel better with massage and acupressure. Class topics will include:

  • Benefits of massage for dogs
  • How to do a simple relaxing massage for your dog
  • Acupressure points that provide specific benefits
  • Tuning in to your dog energetically
  • How massage helps older dogs feel better

Come bond with your dog and help your dog feel better with massage! Bring your dog to class along with a blanket or pad large enough for you to sit and your dog to lie down. Only dogs who are fairly calm and quiet around other dogs should be brought to class.

Margaret Auld-Louie is certified in canine massage by the Lang Institute for Canine Massage and Reiki for Animals by Lorraine May. Cindy Lloyd is certified in Small Animal Acupressure by Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, horse massage by Equitouch, canine massage by Equissage and Reiki for Animals by Lorraine May.

Aromatherapy: Wonderful World of Essential Oils

Sunday, Nov 12 @ 12:00 PM-4:00 PM

$33 through Nov 5 ($44 thereafter)

Journey Books & Gifts
1050 S. Wadsworth, Lakewood, CO

Ancient Egyptians used essential oils for medicinal purposes and to cleanse the emotional body. Join us as we rediscover the therapeutic uses of essential oils and learn the science behind why they work. Topics include: fighting colds & viruses, boosting the immune system, relieving stress & pain, safe use on animals, emotional releases, clearing mental blocks and help with mid-life transitions. Includes a free sample bottle of therapeutic-grade essential oil.

Instructor: Russell understands the need to balance the emotional, mental and spiritual bodies in order to affect the physical body. He is excited to bring the knowledge of essential oils into every day practice on these subtle bodies. He synthesizes both Eastern and Western wisdom into an ultimate healing experience.

Registration: For more information on this class, contact Russell Louie at (303) 271-1649. To register, call Journey Books at (303) 239-0382. Journey Books is located at 1050 S. Wadsworth, Lakewood, CO in the Villa South Shopping Mall at Mississippi (NE corner).

Hurricane Katrina cat available again

It is now November and no one has stepped forward yet to adopt this sweet kitty that lost its home in July. Won't you consider opening your heart to a Katrina animal? Cajun was rescued from a shelter in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, brought to Denver in September 2005 and quickly found a home. He thought he had his forever home, but the owner's situation changed and he became available again in July 2006. Optimum Choices helped adopt out this cat when it first arrived here from Louisiana. Click here for more details.

Fall Sale

Our fall sale has been extended through November 30. Try the holistic combination of BioPreparation-F3+ and Active Care Joint Treats for 10% off when you buy both. Use the combination of these whole food products to help the body naturally reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis without all the side effects of glucosamine supplements and drugs. The discount will not show in your shopping cart online but will be given when your order is processed if you mention our "fall sale". Or you can call us to order. Discount good on orders placed through November 30, 2006. To learn more about glucosamine's possible side effects, click to see our article on glucosamine in our September newsletter.

Oil of the month

by Russell Louie

GatheringTM oil blend

Product #3342 ($24.75/$28.66/32.57)

This month I would like to highlight an oil blend, Gathering, that I use when I need to concentrate my thoughts and focus my actions to get things done. We all have too many obligations and too much to do. Our lives are in overdrive and our emotions in overwhelm. How can we determine what is important and what is urgent? I used Gathering before starting Optimum Choices when I was trying to figure out my life's direction after losing my career as an Internet Project Manager. I had to sort through all the "shoulds" and "why don’t you…" to determine what was right for me at that moment. Then, as I started all the paperwork to form an LLC (limited liability company), Gathering kept me from going into overwhelm over the Articles of Organization, Trade Name Registration, FEIN Application, etc. I now use Gathering to help me block out the daily duties of running a small business whenever I need to get creative to write a new article or artistic to design a new page on our website. It's easy to get bogged down in the daily chores but I lose focus of my ultimate goals without Gathering.

This blend was created to help us overcome the bombardment of chaotic energy that alters our focus and takes us off our path toward higher achievements. Galbanum, a favorite oil of Moses, has a strong effect when blended with frankincense and sandalwood in gathering our emotional and spiritual thoughts, helping us to achieve our potential. These oils help increase the oxygen around the pineal and pituitary gland, bringing greater harmonic frequency to receive the communication we desire. This blend helps bring people together on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level for greater focus and clarity. It helps one stay focused, grounded, and clear in gathering one's potential for self-improvement.

Galbanum (Ferula gummosa)—was used for both medicinal and spiritual purposes. When combined with frankincense and sandalwood, its frequency increases dramatically. (And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; sweet spices with pure with frankincense: Exodus 30:34).

Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)—is considered a holy anointing oil in the Middle East and has been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Stimulates the limbic part of the brain, elevating the mind and helping to overcome stress and despair. It is used in European medicine to combat depression.

Sandalwood (Santalum album)—is high in sesquiterpene compounds which stimulate the pineal gland and the limbic region of the brain, the center of emotions and memory. Used traditionally in yoga and meditation.

Rose (Rosa damascena)—has the highest frequency among essential oils. It creates a sense of balance, harmony, and well-being and elevates the mind. It creates a magnetic energy that attracts love and brings joy to the heart.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)—is relaxant and grounding and improves concentration and mental acuity. University of Miami researchers found that inhalation of lavender oil increased beta waves in the brain, suggesting heightened relaxation. It also reduced depression and improved cognitive performance (Diego et al., 1998). A 2001 Osaka Kyoiku University study found that lavender reduced mental stress and increased alertness (Motomura et al., 2001).

Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum)—is the oil of wealth from the Orient and part of the formula the Lord gave to Moses (Exodus 30:22-27). It has been traditionally used to release malice or spite.

Spruce (Picea mariana)—helps to open and release emotional blocks, creating a feeling of balance and grounding. Traditionally, spruce oil was believed to possess the frequency of prosperity.

Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)—increases relaxation; balances male and female energies. It also restores confidence and equilibrium.

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)—stimulates nerves and assists in balancing hormones. Its aromatic influence helps release negative memories, thereby opening and elevating the mind.

Dilute 1 part essential oil to 1 part vegetable oil. Possible skin sensitivity. Diffuse, directly inhale, or add 2-4 drops to bath water. Apply 1 to 2 drops on edge of ears, wrists, neck, or temples. Dilute 1:15 with vegetable oil for a full-body massage. Put 2 drops on a wet cloth and put in clothes dryer. Put 4-8 drops on cotton ball and locate on vents. Use Forgiveness on navel, Sacred Mountain on crown (to clear negative attitudes), Valor on crown or feet, Three Wise Men on crown, Clarity on temples and Dream Catcher.

©2005 Essential Science Publishing. The information in this article is from the Essential Oils Desk Reference, which can be ordered here:
Essential Science Publishing, 1216 South 1580 West, Orem, Utah 84058, (800) 336-6308, www.essentialscience.net

Click here to order on our Young Living World Essential Oils website. Click on Product Catalog, then pull down the menus Essential Oils/Blends A-M to find Gathering, or call us at (303) 271-1649 or (866) 305-2306 (toll-free).

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Why all dogs need positive training

by Margaret Auld-Louie

Did you know that eighty percent of dogs relinquished to shelters are there due to behavioral problems? The majority of pet dogs are not trained and as a result they can become difficult to live with, particularly when that cute puppy grows up. For dogs to live in harmony with humans, they must be trained so they can fit in to our society rather than just following their own instincts. Untrained dogs pull on walks, jump up on people, destroy your possessions, bark excessively and won't come when called. "Bad dogs" may make for entertaining stories in books but they can be a pain to live with. Even if you missed training your dog as a puppy, it's never too late; old dogs can learn new tricks. We got our dog, Mikki, from the shelter when she was 5 and she had never been trained, as evidenced by the fact that the only trick she knew was how to sit up on her hind legs and beg (a very effective method for a cute Chihuahua-mix dog to get treats). We immediately enrolled her in classes with positive trainers as well as working with her daily at home. We've now had Mikki for 3-1/2 years and when we take her places, people comment on how well behaved she is. When I walk her in the park, instead of reacting to passing dogs, Mikki looks to me for treats and will sit or lie down quietly as the other dog passes. Or I tell her to "go table" (a command from agility training) and she jumps up on the rock I'm pointing to and waits for her treat, ignoring the other dog. Sometimes the other dog's owner will say to me "I wish my dog would do that" (instead of pulling, whining and barking like their dog is doing). Well, their dog could do that, too, if they trained it. Mikki didn't come with good behavior, she learned it. She isn't perfect--we have to manage her carefully when children pet her so that she doesn't snap at them and she will still growl at some dogs that get too close, but she has come a long way from the strong reactions she had to all bicyclists, runners, dogs and children. And while she is small and thus easier to manage in some ways (for instance, I can pick her up to prevent her fighting with a dog), Chihuahua's are the number one breed for biting people. Therefore, training is important for a dog of any size. 

We accomplished Mikki's improved behavior totally with positive training methods, which means rewarding the dog for the right behavior and ignoring bad behavior, rather than punishing for wrong behavior or physically forcing the dog to do something (such as pushing down on the dog's rear end to make it sit or jerking the dog with a choke collar). It may take longer to develop the desired behavior with positive methods rather than force-based methods but the dog will be better off in the long run. Dogs that are forced to submit or are punished for wrongdoing may learn to obey but in the long-term they may become fearful and/or aggressive. So they are actually less safe around people and can still end up at the shelter due to severe behavior problems. Dogs trained with positive methods learn to respect and trust their owner, leading to a deeper bond over time. Dogs trained by force-based, violent methods may quickly cease the undesired behavior but they learn not to trust their owner, thus damaging the relationship over the long-term and possibly breaking the dog's spirit. To learn more about the benefits of positive training vs. force-based methods, see this article on dog-friendly training methods by holistic dog trainer Lorraine May: www.optimumchoices.com/january_2005.htm#Training.

Lately, people have been asking us what we think about Cesar Millan, star of the very popular Dog Whisperer series on the National Geographic channel. We don't have cable TV so we have not viewed his series nor have we read his book, however we are disturbed by the poor opinion that positive trainers and animal behavior experts have of Millan's methods. We have noticed that people who are not educated in positive training methods are impressed with Millan's training and results. Before following his methods, we would suggest that dog owners consider what animal behavior experts have said about him.

The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association stated in their July-September 2006 issue:

"Millan relies on outdated dominance or "alpha" training methods that are supposedly based on wolf pack behavior. These include pinning the dog to the ground, jabbing it with his hand, and smacking it upside the head. Behaviorists today agree that these harsh techniques don't work in the long run and are likely to make aggressive dogs more aggressive. It's a matter of record that the number of serious dog bites have skyrocketed since such alpha techniques became popular more than a decade ago. As Pat Miller stated in her review of Millan's book: "In Millan's world, every behavior problem is addressed in terms of dominance and submission. He even uses the alpha roll as part of his 'dominance ritual'; this technique—forcibly rolling a dog on his side or back and holding him there—is considered by many to be a dangerous practice based on faulty interpretation of wolf behavior. It long ago fell into disfavor with trainers whose methods are based on the science of behavior and learning."

The American Humane Society, which is the authority behind the "No Animals Were Harmed" disclaimer on movies and TV shows, has condemned Millan's methods as "inhumane, outdated and improper" in a letter sent to the National Geographic Channel in September 2006. For more details see: www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=nr_news_releases_dog_whisperer.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Professor and Head, Section of Animal Behavior, Director of Behavior Clinic, Tufts University - Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine has the following to say about Millan:
"Cesar Millan's methods are based on flooding and punishment. The results, though immediate, will be only transitory. His methods are misguided, outmoded, in some cases dangerous, and often inhumane. You would not want to be a dog under his sphere of influence. The sad thing is that the public does not recognize the error of his ways. My college thinks it is a travesty. We've written to National Geographic Channel and told them they have put dog training back 20 years."

Andrew Luescher, DVM, Veterinary Behaviorist, Animal Behavior Clinic, Purdue University states:
"Millan's techniques are almost exclusively based on two techniques: Flooding and positive punishment. In flooding, an animal is exposed to a fear (or aggression) evoking stimulus and prevented from leaving the situation, until it stops reacting. To take a human example: arachnophobia would be treated by locking a person into a closet, releasing hundreds of spiders into that closet, and keeping the door shut until the person stops reacting. The person might be cured by that, but also might be severely disturbed and would have gone through an excessive amount of stress. Flooding has therefore always been considered a risky and cruel method of treatment. Positive punishment refers to applying an aversive stimulus or correction as a consequence of a behavior. There are many concerns about punishment aside from its unpleasantness. Punishment is entirely inappropriate for most types of aggression and for any behavior that involves anxiety. Punishment can suppress most behavior but does not resolve the underlying problem, i.e., the fear or anxiety."

Dr. Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D. in zoology with specialization in animal behavior, co-owner of Animal Behavior Associates in Littleton, Colorado states:
"A number of qualified professionals have voiced concern for the welfare of pet dogs that experience the strong corrections administered by Mr. Millan. My concerns are based on his inappropriateness, inaccurate statements, and complete fabrications of explanations for dog behavior. His ideas, especially those about "dominance", are completely disconnected from the sciences of ethology and animal learning, which are our best hope for understanding and training our dogs and meeting their behavioral needs. Many of the techniques he encourages the public to try are dangerous, and not good for dogs or our relationships with them ."

Janis Bradley of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers (considered the "Harvard" of dog training schools), explains why Millan's methods can be dangerous in the long-term:
"On his TV show, the main method Millan uses for aggression is aversives (leash jerks, kicks, snaps of the hand against the neck, and restraint, among others) applied non contingently. The aversives are non contingent because they are so frequent that they're not connected to any particular behavior on the part of the dog—the dog gets popped pretty much constantly. This results in a state called learned helplessness, which means the animal hunkers down and tries to do as little as possible. This is what Millan calls "calm submission." It's exactly the same thing you see in a rat in a Skinner box that is subjected to intermittent shocks it can do nothing to avoid. This can happen quite fast, by the way, shall we say in ten minutes? The dangers to the dog are obvious, ranging from chronic stress to exacerbating the aggression, i.e., some dogs fight back when attacked. This latter is the simplest reason that aversives are a bad idea in treating aggression. Even used technically correctly as positive punishment for specific behaviors like growling and snarling, aversives do nothing to change the underlying fear or hostility, so the best you can hope for, in the words of famed vet and behaviorist, Ian Dunbar, is "removing the ticker from the time bomb." Thus such methods substantially increase the risk to humans of getting bitten."

One of the techniques used by Cesar Millan is the "alpha roll", which involves forcibly rolling the dog over on its back and holding it down, to supposedly establish the owner as the "alpha dog" and force submission. This technique used to be popular among dog trainers but has since been discredited by more recent research (I remember watching a naturalist demonstrate the alpha roll with her wolf/dog mix in the early 1990's, when it was commonly used). The concept came from observations of unrelated wolves in captivity. This is like observing inmates forced into a jail cell and labeling their subsequent survival behavior as standard human behavior. In a natural setting, wolf family members do not exhibit this behavior. The alpha roll has been discontinued by most trainers because it creates fear in the dog, leading to increased aggression (meaning that the person doing the alpha roll risks being bitten by a frightened dog that thinks it has to fight for its life). Trainers today use kinder and more effective techniques for establishing leadership over one's dog, such as having the dog sit or lie down before it receives its dinner.

Dog owners and professionals that have not studied animal behavior sometimes state that they don't see anything wrong with Millan's techniques and detect no violence in his methods. This is because they are not trained to detect stress signs in dogs, which can sometimes be subtle and they misinterpret a fearful, shutdown dog as exhibiting "calm submission". Positive trainer Pat Miller, columnist for Whole Dog Journal, columnist for Your Dog from Tufts University, author of Positive Perspectives and past President of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers states:
"Millan refers in his book to Kane, a Great Dane who appeared on his TV show who was afraid of slick linoleum floors. Millan claims that with less than 30 minutes of his calm, assertive influence, Kane was striding confidently down the slick hallway. Every trainer I know who has watched that segment notes the dog's post-Millan, obvious and ongoing stress signals: head and tail lowered, hugging the wall, panting."

For more information on the issues with Millan's techniques, see the following websites:

USA TODAY - "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan Sued by TV Producer
New York Times - "Pack of Lies"
Esquire Magazine - "Misguided Expert of the Year"

Andrew Luescher, DVM, Veterinary Behaviorist, Animal Behavior Clinic, Purdue University
Review of "Cesar's Way" from Pat Miller of The Bark Magazine
Paul Owen, the Original Dog Whisperer - "A Bone To Pick?"
Michael Linder - "Dog Owners Want To Bury Cesar?"
Newsday - "A 'Tough Love' Dog Whisperer Spurs Some Yelps"
The Anti-Cesar Millan -- Ian Dunbar's been succeeding for 25 years with lure-reward dog training; how come he's been usurped by the flashy, aggressive TV host?
IAABC Concerns Regarding Child Safety on National Geographic's Dog Whisperer Show

To train your dog in a humane way, we suggest working with a trainer that is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), rather than imitating what you have seen on The Dog Whisperer show. The APDT is an organization of trainers using "dog friendly", positive methods, although some members may use a mix of positive and older force-based methods. So, you should select a trainer carefully. See the article How to Choose a Trainer on the APDT site. If you are not comfortable with any of a trainer's methods, even if they are a member of APDT, then don't work with them. And if they tell you something about your dog that doesn't seem right to you, don't assume they must be correct because they are the "expert" and you are not. When we took Mikki to her first training class two weeks after getting her, she appeared scared so I crouched down to let her jump into my lap and held her. The trainer told me I did the wrong thing, saying that small dogs "pretend" to be afraid to manipulate their owners into holding them. Well, the first class was held in the parking lot outside the door of the animal shelter Mikki had been adopted from just 2 weeks prior. She probably thought we were returning her to the shelter. Any dog in its right mind would be afraid! As I got to know Mikki, I realized that she was not a fearful or manipulative dog, that she normally didn't even like being picked up (preferring to have "four on the floor" like a "real" dog) and that the trainer was misinterpreting her behavior based on the trainer's generalizations about "small dogs".

We later worked with Lorraine May of the Misha May Foundation, who holds classes and offers individual behavior consulting in the Denver area. Lorraine truly understands how to train dogs in a positive fashion and treats each one as a unique individual. For more information on training with Lorraine, call (303) 239-0382 or go to www.mishamayfoundation.org/events.htm and scroll down to "Training with the Misha May Foundation". You can also find some excellent books and DVDs on dog behavior that explain how to train your dog in a kind and gentle, yet effective method. We especially like the work of Turid Rugas, a dog trainer in Norway and one of the world's leading experts on dog behavior. She has produced the book and film Calming Signals explaining how to interpret dogs' body language. Rugas is especially talented at understanding and explaining how to interact with dogs in a kind and gentle way, while still teaching them how to behave properly. For some suggested books and DVDs, see: http://www.optimumchoices.com/dog_training-B.htm.

Book of the month


The Fastidious Feline

by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.

ISBN: 1-891767-04-6

click picture to order from Amazon.com


review by Margaret Auld-Louie

This short 28-page booklet by Patricia McConnell is packed with vital information for all cat owners. It contains information on how to design a litter box system that works for your cat, whether your cat has current litterbox problems or you just want to prevent future problems. Ms. McConnell is a nationally-known Ph.D. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, a behavior columnist for Bark magazine and author of the acclaimed book "The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs" (click here for our review). We stated in the article above that most dogs are relinquished to shelters due to behavior problems. I don't know what the statistics are for cats but as a volunteer adoption assistant at the Cat Care Society shelter in Lakewood, Colorado, I see numerous cats returned due to litterbox problems. The interesting thing about the cats returned to Cat Care for this reason is that most of them don't have a problem in the shelter. They only have a problem in the home. So that suggests there is something about the litterbox system at the home they don't like.

While our current cat never goes outside the box (knock on wood), I have had my share of cats in the past that pee'd all over the house. In fact, when we remodeled our house a few years ago, we not only had to replace carpet and flooring soaked with cat pee, but also all the drywall in our living room that was damaged from pee. We had 2 spayed female cats that had been only cats much of their life so they pee'd everywhere trying to mark their territory. I don't know if anything could have been done to stop the peeing that we didn't try but this booklet is very thorough in covering all the possibilities and making clear what cats prefer in litterbox systems, which may not be what we humans prefer them to have. For instance, humans prefer a litterbox that is tucked out of sight with scented litter and a cover on it. Cats prefer a litterbox that is easily accessible, with scent-free litter and many cats dislike a cover on the box (which traps odors and may make the cat feel trapped). Cats also prefer a litterbox on each floor, so they don't have to climb stairs and go a long way to reach their bathroom. That reminds me of the pair of crippled cats at Cat Care that were returned due to litterbox problems. They didn't have boxes on each floor so despite being crippled, they were required to traverse the stairs to get to their litterbox and it's not surprising that they stopped using the box. However, even agile cats prefers to have a "bathroom" on each floor, just as humans do.

Whether your cat currently has litterbox problems or not, this booklet contains very valuable information and is more thorough than the articles I have read on this topic. If you want to understand your cat better and know how to meet its needs (while protecting your house from damage), get a copy of this small but excellent book.

Contact us

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the fountain of youth today!


General Information: Russell@OptimumChoices.com
Webmaster: Webmaster@OptimumChoices.com
Newsletter Editor, Margaret Auld-Louie: Editor@OptimumChoices.com


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Golden, CO 80403-1533

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