My Bichon Frise is one of the great loves of my life: I adopted her from a pet rescue in New Jersey 10 years ago when she was just over a year old. I’ll never forget the first time I held her, how skinny and timid she was, and how quickly we bonded with each other.
The old adage about man and dog (and woman and dog, as it is) isn’t just lore; research shows the two species have been “besties” for over 34,000 years from the time when dogs and humans began to cohabitate.
Recent research also reveals that humans experience feelings of love for their pets in ways that rival what they feel for their children and mates; what’s even more interesting is it appears the feelings are mutual. Brain scans from a study in Japan show that oxytocin, the chemical released in the brain that creates the experience of love, is stimulated in both humans and their animal companions while they gaze into each other’s eyes.
by Rebecca Antsis and Karen G. Meshkov
Becky Austill-Clausen is the definition of likable. Her unmistakable Boston accent exudes a feistiness and warmth; she remembers your name, your interests, even your life’s minutiae, and relays her accomplishments without the pomp and circumstance one might assume from a highly successful businesswoman, former college teacher, author and gifted intuitive.
While she now calls Chester County home, this “pastor’s kid” was raised in a Boston suburb. Despite her father’s profession, Austill-Clausen says, “Religion just didn’t work for me.” What really excited her was academics and a good challenge. By high school, she was holding down multiple jobs while maintaining a stellar GPA.
It was during a four-year experience volunteering for a nursing home when Austill-Clausen discovered her passion for health care and, ultimately, occupational therapy. Like all of her pursuits, she followed this path doggedly.
by Karen G. Meshkov
Real estate development and environmental protection frequently don’t go hand in hand, particularly along the East Coast. It’s refreshing to know that there are places where naturalists, preservationists and ecologists have worked alongside real estate interests to develop residential opportunities that ensure the beauty, safety and preservation of the natural habitat.
Virginia’s Eastern Shore—the area that surrounds the Chesapeake Bay and the numerous rivers, creeks and coves that feed into it—is one such place. Located just a few hours south of Washington, D.C. and less than a day’s drive from the Philadelphia metropolitan area, this area is frequently regarded as one of the best places in the country to live or retire. Its rich, seaside culture is conducive to fishing, boating, “beaching”, kayaking and taking nature walks; the mean average temperature is a comfortable and thermostat-friendly 59 degrees.
by Jack Firneno
Don and Donna Shields have worked separately for decades helping animals lead better lives. Now, they’ve teamed up to help pet owners make the final moments with their beloved pets peaceful and calm.
Last Act of Love is the couple’s at-home euthanasia program, where animals pass away peacefully in their home, surrounded by loved ones. It’s much less painful for the pets, and more comforting for their owners. Now in its third year, Last Act of Love serves all of Bucks County.
by Rebecca Antsis and Karen G. Meshkov
It’s a Monday evening at Doylestown Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Pet Care (DVH) and Buddy, a senior golden retriever, is lying belly down on the examination table. To one who has never seen a dog with a collection of acupuncture needles sticking out of his back, the scene might seem a bit strange. Acupuncture treatment sessions are an essential part of Buddy’s wellness regimen, as are similar treatments for many people who rely on this 2,000-year-old healing modality.
When his owners first came to DVH, he was suffering from pain and lameness. Buddy’s situation was serious with no conventional treatment options left to try. It was one year ago that they were lucky enough to find Dr. David MacDonald, one of the hospital’s resident veterinarians who specializes in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Buddy turns 13 years old next week, and his condition continues to improve.
by Elizabeth Joyce
As pet owners, it’s not unusual to wonder how our furry friends got their funny habits. We may ask ourselves why a kitten is so quirky or if we will meld well with a new pet. The answers could be determined by a pet’s date of birth and how astrology affects its character.
An effective way to ensure an easier time raising pets is through understanding what makes them tick and how their basic behavior will evolve depending on their astrological sign. The following shows the basic Sun Sign characteristics of pets.
by Carrie Jackson
Forgotten animals can get a second chance to thrive at the Ravens Nest Rescue Farm and Sanctuary. The farm, located on just under one acre in Feasterville, offers a safe haven to animals that have been abused, abandoned, neglected or are otherwise unwanted. The farm takes a wide range of animals that include chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, dogs, ferrets and other small, farm favorites.
Lisa Rogers is the director of the farm, which is a nonprofit organization entirely staffed by volunteers. “We are more than just a rescue farm. We are a network of people who provide foster care and love to seemingly unadoptable animals, and a sanctuary to those we can’t adopt or place into the community,” she says. The animals are cared for with essential oils, energy work and other holistic therapies.
by Grace Antonini
It’s a uniquely beautiful kind of healing that takes place when two beings, weakened by a traumatic past or disability, find support, strength and love in one another. At Logan’s Heroes Animal Rescue, in Lehigh County, healing is forged by the animal-human bond.
This nonprofit organization embodies the spirit of Logan, a young German Shepherd who was purchased at a pet shop and eventually returned by the family that bought him because of a congenital disability. By that time, sadly, it was too late for Logan to be saved. Inspired by this tragic experience, Logan’s Heroes was formed with the purpose of joining rescued animals from dire situations (such as puppy mills and commercial kennels) with people suffering from trauma and disabilities. Logan’s Heroes focuses on veterans that dedicated their lives to military service and are consequently living with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
by Nancy Bragin
Clark Kent doesn’t look like a superhero until he takes off and flies as Superman. It’s the same with Scott Messinger, whose day job is CEO of Eyeland Optical, a chain of 14 family-owned optical centers in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. To save travel time, Messinger learned to fly and began traveling to work in a small, single-engine airplane.
His transformation began in the fall of 2010. “I read an article written by a former animal control manager at a county animal shelter in the south, who said the job was ‘hurting his heart and killing his soul,’” says Messinger. Soon after, as a favor for a friend, he flew from Philadelphia to a shelter in Louisiana to rescue some dogs that were about to be euthanized.
by Lauren Johnson
When it comes to the care of our beloved pets, one thing is certain: we want only the best. For many, this comes with finding a veterinarian we can trust that shares our point of view. Holistic veterinary care offers a unique approach using alternative methods to assess an animal’s health.
“Oftentimes conventional veterinary medicine looks at ways to put out fires but doesn’t look at how they started in the first place to prevent them from coming back, and this is where holistic care can really help,” says Suzanne Walski, DVM, owner of Meadowbrook Animal Healing, in Ottsville. “Holistic care takes a different approach, looking at the whole being and treating it emotionally, physically and even spiritually.”
Walski, who began as a conventional veterinarian, is not a purist when it comes to holistic health. Sometimes conventional care is needed, and she encourages people to continue with their regular vet while using her as a consultant. “My approach is: ‘What else can we do aside from what is necessary to do?’ I’m passionate about educating people about alternative methods that can be helpful not only for their pet, but for themselves as well.”
by Lauren Johnson
Nothing evokes a sense of ease quite like a soft, smiling, tail-wagging dog looking up for a bit of affection. While numerous dog lovers are familiar with this feeling, many may not know how it can bring greater therapeutic benefits to others.
Meet Therapy Dogs International (TDI), a non-profit organization based in Flanders, New Jersey, whose mission is to bring health and well-being through visits by four-legged friends to institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, memory care facilities and wherever else therapy dogs are needed.
“When people encounter a therapy dog, their mood immediately improves—they become more relaxed, and their blood pressure drops,” says Bob Wharton, director of TDI Bucks County Chapter #294.
by Rebecca Antsis
In the 1970s, Dr. John Sarno, a professor of rehabilitation medicine at New York University, made a discovery that struck deep into the bedrock of the mainstream medical community. This discovery was tension myoneural syndrome and is now referred to as The Mind-body Syndrome (TMS).
TMS is a mind-body disorder that reveals itself to be a set of physical symptoms (usually manifesting as some form of pain or discomfort) that originates from something psychological or emotional in nature. The premise is that overwhelming, repressed emotions and daily life stress create a very real change in the vascular system, which reduces blood and oxygen flow and results in physical pain. When the emotional source of pain is located, the pain is then vanquished.
Some years later, a TMS sufferer named Adam Heller built on Sarno’s research and developed Zero Pain Now, a program that improved upon the process of reversing this mind-body syndrome to end chronic pain quickly.
by Grace Antonini
When people walk through Red Hill Medical’s door for the first time, they immediately marvel over how relaxed and nurtured they feel. Exposed brick walls, sunny windows and a convenient location (five minutes from Kimberton Whole Foods) are a few of the ingredients that make this space such a perfect spot for an integrative medical practice.
It’s all about being present for each person,” says Dr. Kristann Heinz, MD, RD, the practice’s co-founder along with Falecia Wasicko, RN, LMT. And there’s space to spare—Red Hill Medical is currently seeking like-minded, holistic practitioners to share space and resources at its Pipersville location.