October 2016

Show Off Your Pet Kids' Costumes

Fonzi Dog

Dressing up for Halloween isn't just for humans anymore! If your dog or cat is donning a costume this year, we want you to share the adorable photographic evidence. Email your costume pics to blogfun@lifesabundance.com. Staff favorites will be posted the first week of November, so tell your four-footers to say "CHEESE!"

Easy Bliss Bites: Recipe

Chocolate Bites

Who says healthy living can’t be irresistibly delicious? Definitely not anyone after sampling the latest Life’s Abundance recipe!

Judging by the reaction this recipe got here at our home office, you might want to throw caution to the wind and whip up a double batch of this fudge-inspired delight.

Be sure to share this delectably sweet and coolly refreshing treat with friends and family!

Ingredients

Ingredients:

2 Cups toasted rolled oats

1 Cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 Cup slivered almonds

1/2 Cup virgin coconut oil (warmed to liquid)

1 Cup almond butter

2/3 Cup raw honey

1/2 Tsp. almond extract

2.5 Scoops (approx. 1/4 Cup) Life's Abundance Greens Blend

3/4 Cup chia or flax seeds

3/4 Cup mini chocolate chips

Bake

Directions:

Spread oats and coconut on cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Use a mixer to combine the almond butter, honey, almond extract and the softened coconut oil. If needed, add more coconut oil by the tablespoon to reach the desired consistency. Once these ingredients are well mixed, add the remaining ingredients and mix until evenly blended.

Spread and press the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan (line with parchment paper for easy removal and clean up) and set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Cut into bite-size delights and enjoy!

On the very slim chance you have leftovers, be sure to store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Four-Legged Heroes: Dogs in the Military

Dogs in the military

I’ve always wanted to attend the annual New Year’s Day Rose Bowl parade, but when I finally got to attend it wasn’t even the floats that wowed me the most … it was the dogs.

That year, I had the pleasure of meeting several service members who were riding on a float supporting the US Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, which made its debut in 2013. It was there that I met Sgt. 1st Class Charles "Chuck" Shuck and his dog Gabe, who had just received the American Humane Association Hero Award for his work in Iraq.

Both Gabe and Sergeant Shuck challenged my preconceived notions about working dogs in the military. Gabe wasn’t a stern, antisocial dog but a sweet yellow Labrador, trained for explosives detection after being rescued from a shelter in Texas. He participated in 170 combat patrols and racked up 26 “finds”, saving potentially hundreds of lives! After his retirement in 2009, he was adopted by Shuck.

You might imagine the relationship between handler and dog to be all business, but when Shuck and Gabe looked at each other, I saw the same adoration and love all dog parents know and recognize. Dogs in the military have important jobs to do but also serve as vital emotional support for many soldiers. I also learned that veteran dog handlers haunted by having to leave dogs behind in Vietnam are responsible for the current stance on canines in the United States military, which is this: dogs are to be treated with the same regard as any other soldier. They are not treated as commodities, but are accorded respect and reverence for their work and sacrifice. When they are injured, the medics are sent in just like they would be for a wounded person.

Gabe

After meeting Gabe and several other distinguished canine veterans, I wanted to learn more about the eventual landing place for the memorial: The US Military Working Dog School, located at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. While researching the training facility known more affectionately as “Dog School”, I also learned some other amazing facts about dogs in the military:

  1. Dogs have served with US soldiers in every major conflict since the Civil War.
  2. The school trains dogs to work for all branches of the military as well as for the TSA.
  3.  Worldwide, about 1,400 dogs are working in service of the United States Military at any given time.
  4. The most commonly utilized breeds are German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Sporting breeds such as Labradors are more frequently utilized as needs for explosive detection have increased.
  5. Congressional Bill HR-5313, signed into law in 2000, recognizes the value of canine life by allowing retired military dogs to be adopted into loving homes.

A month after I met Gabe, he sadly passed away from liver cancer. I sent Sergeant Shuck the photo we took at the parade along with my condolences. It was an honor to meet such an incredible team, a handler who grew into a dog parent and loved his hero dog with all his heart. They represent the best of what dogs and people can accomplish while working together.

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

Why is This Adorable Duo So Happy?

Michele and Max

Meet Michele Dobos and Max. While attending an enormous pet adoption event co-sponsored by Life’s Abundance in West Palm Beach, Florida last month, Michele took a chance and entered our Free Pet Food for a Year Giveaway. And we’re so glad she did!

Michele is smiling because she is the winner of our drawing! Max is smiling because he’s just a happy guy, plus he was given a basket full of tasty goodies.

Max

When asked what motivated her to attend the Countdown 2 Zero Adoption Event, Michele said, “I went to support the rescues. A friend and I filled our pockets with bills and dropped donations into each rescue group’s jar at the event. As a former rescue volunteer, I know how important this event was for all 32 of these groups.”

Michele Max and Lester

Life’s Abundance CEO Lester Thornhill took our winners on a red carpet tour of the headquarters. Within minutes Max and his broad Shih Tzu grin dominated the day and won the hearts of everyone who met him. He’s a seven year old with spunk and now that he’s eating Life’s Abundance All Life Stage Dog Food we’re certain to see an extra spring in his step.

Congratulations to Michele and Max, and welcome to the Life’s Abundance family!

The Amazing, Intuitive Empathy of Dogs

When I was 12 years old, fully in the throes of junior high angst, I had a difficult time telling others about painful events. Being called hurtful names by other kids. The time my backpack was stolen and thrown over a fence. About the bullies who teased me. I didn’t want to tell my parents because I didn’t think they would be able to change anything, and I worried that it would end up just making them sad. So … I told my dog.

At the time, I thought I was kind of a weirdo for confiding in my dog. But as I grew older and devoted my life to working with animals and people, I found to my delight that dogs are some of the world’s best counselors. They give veterans with PTSD the strength to venture outside. They help shy children work on their speaking skills. They sit in courtrooms while victims testify about terrifying events. They lie quietly next to people in hospitals who simply need a soft head to pat. They are sometimes as effective as medications in controlling anxiety.

I’ve often heard it said that dogs can sense when someone they love needs extra support, but until I witnessed it firsthand, I had no idea just how powerful that connection could be. When my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last year and came to live with us, I was beyond petrified, as was the entire family. It was so hard to simply sit there and be present without bursting into tears, which would only upset Mom more.

My dog, on the other hand, had no hesitation about inserting himself in the middle of it all. Brody became an ever-present companion by her side, a steady escort that helped to keep her upright when her balance was off, a head on her lap while she tearfully signed her Hospice admission papers, and a gentle snorer at her side every night. When she peacefully passed with my father by her side, Brody was also there to see her off.

How can I possibly explain what burden he bore during that time? He was not just there for my Mom but also for me, the kids and especially my dad. With my mother gone, Brody immediately transferred his watchful attention to him in a way that he never had before. Together, they went on long thoughtful walks during that period. There is no possible explanation other than the fact that Brody knew exactly what we needed from him.

Dogs see us at our worst and, unlike many people in our lives, are unafraid to be right there in the thick of things without judgment or discomfort. They are such a gift to us! I feel so fortunate to be able to give back and help their lives be long and wonderful in return.

Have you ever had a dog who went above and beyond the call of duty in a time of pain or need?

Tell us your remarkable story of canine comforting in the comments section below. And be sure to share this post with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.