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.
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.
Instructors: 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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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
Ingredients 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
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.,
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.
Application 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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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
"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."
Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D. in zoology with specialization in animal behavior, co-owner
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
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
signals: head and tail lowered, hugging the wall, panting."
For more information on the issues with Millan's techniques, see the following websites:
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
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,
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
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.
Nothing on this website has been evaluated by the FDA. This information
is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please
see a qualified healthcare practitioner for any disease or illness.