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.

Record 334 Pets Adopted at Massive Event

Life’s Abundance is very proud to report our recent involvement as Official Sponsors in Palm Beach County’s third annual Countdown 2 Zero adoption event. Held on September 10th at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, hundreds of adoptable cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs from dozens of rescue groups overtook the arena. The goal was to find forever homes for hundreds of these hopeful pet kids.

Countdown 2 Zero is a county-wide initiative harnessing the expertise and resources of both local county government and private animal rescue agencies, with the stated mission of completely eliminating the euthanasia of adoptable pets by 2024.

Throughout the day, a dozen Life’s Abundance staff members worked from our booth and mingled with the crowds. Altogether, we personally greeted several hundred event attendees. Our company was one of many co-sponsors in attendance, along with a whopping 32 animal rescue groups. Thanks to corporate sponsorships like ours, all of the non-profit rescues were able to participate at no charge, allowing them to focus on what really matters … finding the perfect homes for their companion animals.


Life's Abundance sponsors Countdown 2 Zero adoption event.

The visiting crowd consisted of nearly 3,000 wonderful people, all united by their desire to adopt a homeless animal (maybe even two!). Making sure that everything went off without a hitch were 220 event volunteers, plus all of the animal rescue workers. Truly a remarkable group of people! But the real stars of the event were the 900+ adoptable pet kids, ranging in age from four months to twelve years.


Ready to meet their new family!

This was the third time this annual extravaganza has been held, and thanks to a great deal of planning and boatloads of caring, an amazing number of pet kids were adopted into their forever homes. The final tally was 334 adoptions, which broke their previous record!


All hands on deck at the Life's Abundance booth with CEO Lester Thornhill, Customer Care Manager, Delphia Brown and Project Manager, Dawn Tate.

Life’s Abundance CEO, Lester Thornhill said, “We really wanted to focus on our neighbors and do something beneficial for our community. Being a co-sponsor afforded us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our willingness to invest in the lives of both people and companion animals. The life-saving changes being made here on the local level are nothing short of heroic. We could not be more pleased to play a role in this incredible event.”


Volunteers and adopters couldn't resist a little cuddle time.

Everywhere we looked, inspirational acts of spontaneous kindness were happening in every corner of the 50,000 square-foot space. There were tears of joy and loads of laughter. The mood in the room was simply over the moon, everywhere people beaming big smiles … even the dogs! In just a few short hours, we witnessed hundreds of heartwarming unions.

To everyone who participated in Countdown 2 Zero, we can’t thank you enough for your interest in adoption and for giving all of us the chance to meet you in person.

We congratulate the event hosts, all of our fellow corporate and non-profit sponsors, but most of all, we applaud all of the thousands of participants and every single adopter. By opening your homes, and your hearts, you have all made the world a better place for your new pet kid.

In the short term, your participation will have a very real impact on our community, as far fewer adoptable animals will be euthanized in Palm Beach County. Not only that, but each of you helped to further our county's long-term goal of eliminating euthanasia altogether. That’s a big deal!

For all of us at Life's Abundance, helping to improve the quality of life for animals in need isn't just a one-off event ... it's part of our DNA. In fact, supporting animal rescues is part of our business model. If you're new to Life's Abundance, you should know that every order results in a small donation to our company non-profit, The Dr. Jane Foundation. All of those little donations add up to big change. Since 2007, we've awarded nearly $200,000 to more than 100 animal rescue groups across America.

Collective action on behalf of a good cause is the only real way to affect positive change in the world. We hope you'll join us, either as a new customer or even as a distributor of our products. Together, we truly can make the world a better place.

5 Foods for Glowing Skin

Promises of age defying, wrinkle releasing and instant face lifts in a bottle keep beauty products flying off the shelves everywhere from the grocery store to the most posh department store. I’m not saying a few fancy (or not so fancy) products don’t have their role in your skin's health and glow but your best bet at beautiful skin? Is building it from the inside out.

These five foods will offer you loads of nutrients to help clear your complexion, prevent wrinkles and make your skin glow.

Strawberries: This sweet fruit is full of antioxidants (including vitamin C and manganese) that help to prevent damage to the skin by free radicals. Not only that, but it also packs a punch in the B vitamin department, which plays a role in increasing circulation to the skin. Better circulation equals better cell turnover and a healthy flush. Here’s a bonus to these little fruits - researchers have shown that B vitamins play a role in a reduction in hair loss and contribute to shinier hair. Top a slice of Ezekial toast with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese and sliced strawberries as your new go-to breakfast.

Spinach: This leafy green contains zinc, important in controlling the oil content of the skin, which helps minimize breakouts. It’s also an essential component in the formation of collagen, which gives your skin cells their strength and keeps their structure. A boost of zinc will prevent skin from sagging and premature wrinkles from forming. Toss a cup of fresh spinach (frozen works too!) into your fruit smoothie for some serious skin boosting benefits.

Salmon: This fish is a well known option for those pining after glowing skin. And for good reason. Its high amount of omega 3s (DHA and EPA) are essential fatty acids necessary for good health, including skin. We can’t make them in our body so we must get them from food or supplements. DHA and EPA help maintain the structural and functional integrity of cell membranes and assist in warding off wrinkles. Their anti-inflammatory effect helps prevent collagen breakdown. Grill a salmon filet with rosemary and lemon for the simplest way to wow your dinner guests. Seafood not your thing? An Omega 3 supplement might be the next best option to ensure you’re getting a healthy dose of those necessary fats.

Almonds: Many know about biotin as being the answer for good hair and nails. But did you know that this vitamin does a whole lot of good for your skin, too? Almonds provide you with this particular B vitamin that gets the limelight for its role in stimulating faster cell turnover for a glowing complexion. Get your healthy dose of biotin by topping a salad with sliced almonds or by grabbing a handful of raw almonds as a quick snack.

Kidney beans: You may have heard of beans referred to as the ‘magical fruit,’ but this is true for more reasons than this tune’s amusing lyrics. Their high amounts of iron increase oxygen transportation throughout the body. This means better circulation, which means serious benefits for a healthy glow. Pairing them with a food high in vitamin C will ensure all of the iron gets put to work towards your best looking skin. Make a hearty veggie chili full of bell peppers, tomatoes and kidney beans for a nutrient match made in heaven.

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned From My Puppy

I never cease to be surprised at how much I learn from my dogs. Even after living and working with them for years, there’s always something new to learn about them or yourself. The first few months of my dog Brody’s life as a puppy were some of the most joyous weeks of my life. Even at two months of age, he seemed to have it all figured out. Maybe it’s a dog thing.

So, in no particular order, here are all the life lessons I learned from my puppy Brody!

A good solid wink is an essential people skill to master.

If you’re breaking the rules, better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Nap often and with great gusto.

When in doubt, just try looking chagrined.

Truly, no problem is insurmountable.

Did I mention it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission? Especially when it’s ice cream.

You’re never too young - or too old - to be a hero!

No matter your age, be sure to celebrate all of life’s milestones!

What lessons has your dog taught you? Please share your story in the comments section below!

 

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang

The Many Health Benefits of Living with Dogs

While all dog lovers intuitively know we are happier and healthier with a dog or two (or three) in our lives, scientists around the world have been working to prove that this isn’t just a feeling but a fact. Dogs really do make us healthier!

  1. Fewer allergies
    That old wives tale that being around animals is more likely to make you sick is just that … a misconception. In fact, children raised around animals are 33% less likely to have allergies to those animals than those who are raised in a more sterile environment. Just like the “hygiene hypothesis” surmising that early exposure to germs makes us better at fighting them, being around allergens while our bodies are still growing helps the body recognize these particles as being A-OK.
  2. Trimmer waist
    Pet parents are less likely to suffer from obesity compared to the general population, particularly if you are the person in the household responsible for walking the dog. It makes sense: maybe you can talk yourself out of an early a.m. stroll, but it’s harder to justify skipping the walk when your dog is giving you those big, excited eyes!

  3. Lower rates of eczema
    Eczema, a painful and itchy skin condition, is a common plague in children and thought to have an allergic component. Children raised with dogs have demonstrably lower levels of eczema compared to the pet-less, which is great news for those of us who love dogs AND kids, and couldn’t imagine going without either!
  4. Cancer detection
    A dog’s sense of smell is somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more sensitive than our own. Think about that the next time your spray perfume in their presence! One of the unintended benefits of this is that many dogs seem to pick up on very subtle olfactory indicators of disease. Dogs have shown repeatable, reliable skill in finding lung, bladder, breast, colon, and ovarian cancers in people … some of whom passed more commonly accepted screening tests! If your dog shows a sudden and insatiable interest in a certain body part, don’t ignore it … your pup may be trying to save your life!
  5. Noticing low blood sugar
    More than one out of every three dogs living with diabetics can detect low blood sugar, according to researchers. With no prior training, some of these dogs have on their own alerted their owners to something being off, providing people a critical lead time in intervening before their blood sugar levels lead to serious symptoms.

How Dogs and People Evolved Together

People live with and love many kinds of animals, but there’s just something special about our relationship with our dogs. We all get the sense that they need us the same way that we need them. Humans and canines, bonded together by some strange and immutable force. It’s almost as if we evolved for each other!

And there’s evidence to support that actually, we did. Here are some fascinating facts that scientists have discovered about the ancient, intertwined bond between humankind and canines…

1. Dogs first split off the wolf genome about 32,000 years ago.
Recently, scientists collected DNA from gray wolves as well as various dog breeds from across the globe. By comparing these samples against the DNA taken from an ancient dog skull uncovered in a Siberian mountain range, Chinese researchers determined that modern dogs split off from the wolf genome approximately 32,000 years ago … the earliest evidence ever discovered!

2. Dogs may have helped us beat Neanderthals in the evolution game.
While Neanderthals existed nearly 250,000 years ago, we Homo sapiens are a little newer on the scene: about 40,000 years ago or so. While no one is entirely sure why they became extinct whereas we flourished, some anthropologists surmise that domesticating dogs played a key role in allowing us to hunt more efficiently and therefore survive.

3. Their affable personality ensured their survival.
While wolves are naturally reserved and skittish around humans, dogs easily accept people as fellow pack members. From an evolutionary standpoint, the wolves who were comfortable enough approaching humans to beg off scraps possibly marked the first step in the domestication process. Which just goes to prove that dogs can’t help their genial nature!

4. Their body chemistry adapted closer to what we eat.
Right around the same time that human society moved from a hunting-based to a farming-based lifestyle, we started to further develop our aptitude for digesting starches. So did dogs. A 2013 study from the journal Nature found ten genes responsible for starch digestion that are not present in the carnivorous wolf species. Like us, dogs are true omnivores.

5. Modern dogs are more alike than they are different.
It’s hard to believe that hulking Great Danes and dainty teacup poodles are representatives of the same species, but they are! Their extensive physical variations are the result of selective breeding programs, which have only really been in vogue for less than 200 years. Without humans manipulating the breeding process, the huge disparities we know today would not exist.

A Family Guide to Coping With Pet Loss

As a veterinarian, a person regularly tasked with the sacred duty of helping beloved family members pass over the Rainbow Bridge, you might think that I had lots of training in vet school about how to help people during such a challenging time. To be honest, I didn’t. Almost none, in fact, which is a shame.

Oftentimes, the death of a pet is the first major loss experienced by a person, especially children. We know now that for many people, the pain and grief of losing a pet is as profound as the death of a person, yet people are often expected to carry on the next day as if nothing has happened. Openly discussing grief makes others uncomfortable, mostly because they don’t know what to say. More...

Our Foundation Awards Grants to Several Rescues

Did you know that every order placed at Life’s Abundance benefits our charitable foundation? It’s true! Whether you’re ordering the finest nutritional supplements for yourself or premium quality food for your pet kids, your business will help the plight of homeless animals across America.

This work is done through our non-profit wing, The Dr. Jane Foundation, which provides financial support to small and medium-size rescue groups who work to prevent animal homelessness, abuse and chronic neglect. Since 2007, we’ve awarded more than $190,000 in funding to well over 100 deserving groups! More...

Multivitamins… A Good or Bad Idea

In an ideal world, we would eat the perfect amounts and proportions of just the right foods from pristine, organically grown farms so we could obtain optimal nutrition from each and every bite. Sounds good, right?

It’s important to understand that foods are complicated – in a good way. All foods contain a host of complex micronutrients that work together in perfect harmony. This is why I believe that you can’t pop a pill and expect it to replace all of the nutrition foods deliver in your diet. There’s no singular pill, powder or solution that can compare with the comprehensive nutrition that fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and other foods supply to the diet. More...