It’s a new year


It’s a new year and both Zak and Kiefer have been with me now for almost a year. Kiefer turns 15 next week. Zak and Paloma will be 15 in a few months.

Zak still has a bounce in his step. Kiefer is still opinionated and strong-willed. Last week he went to the local library with his former owner and offered therapy to lots of excited children. Paloma is still a happy-go-lucky girl.

All 3 of the super seniors spend more time napping. Paloma sleeps so deeply in the morning that she often doesn’t even hear me preparing their breakfast. All 3 of them are losing their hearing and sight. I will often see them staring into space like they are either in deep thought or no thought at all. That’s a topic of discussion and a source of laughter in my house.

The only supplements they are taking in addition to their raw food are Dasuquinprobiotics and digestive enzymes. The raw food provides all the pain relief, strength, and joint lubrication they need right now.


This is my last post on the super seniors. I don’t want to go into the details of how they die. We know they will. But what many people ask me is how do you make that decision, when do you know it’s time?  Often you hear, “you will just know.”  But you don’t just know until it gets to that point and it’s not always that simple.

Let’s start with some questions:

  1. Is your dog in pain? (Can you manage the pain?)
  2. Is your dog aware of what’s going on? (Are they still enjoying a nap in the sun or a cuddle on the couch? Are they happy?)
  3. Can your dog still walk? (Are you able to use a support like a sling?)
  4. Is your dog incontinent? (Are you willing to use diapers, pee pads, etc.)

For me, when there are a few things going on at the same time, it might be time. I kept Kipling until he had all of those things—he was in pain, incoherent, couldn’t walk, and was incontinent. I used to feel guilty for having kept him here longer than maybe he wanted. I just wasn’t ready to let go of him. I realize now that was okay.  I think he was holding on to being there for me.

Just know the loss can be so deeply painful, their presence is profound in our lives. They are our therapists, our unconditional love, the glue that binds our family together, the one who softens and lifts us, but most of all they are an honored and deeply loved part of our lives.

Be easy on yourself and give yourself the time you need.

Some people need to bring a puppy into their life right away to help heal. Some people need a long time alone to heal. The only right answer is yours.

When I lost Mabel suddenly, my heart was ripped out, and the pain was palpable. Two years later I know in my heart she sent me Maeve. Maeve IS Mabel, from her wild energy and enthusiasm down to the smell of her hair. But most of all she is as intense about her love for me as Mabel was. This has helped soothe my pain. I need to love dogs, our dogs want us to keep loving, too. After all, that’s what they are all about.

I am so grateful to the Berkshire Hills community who have opened their hearts to these amazing souls. You are very courageous and amazing.


Thank you, Sunny

(photos: Zak and I, Kiefer in his red sweater, Paloma starring at the fire, Maeve starring at me)





Seasons Change



The end of summer at Berkshire Hills was delightfully alive with puppies and volunteers. There were puppies running around the playground, chasing each other through tunnels, making sleepy puppy piles on their white lamb bed. Meanwhile, Mo, my 5 month-old grew long lanky legs, and my seniors took lazy naps in the sun.

Fall has now settled in. Mo’s legs grew 6 inches longer. We are buttoning down the house for colder weather, bringing in the firewood and pulling down the storm windows. Thanksgiving will be here soon.  I just love Thanksgiving dinner in this house.  It was built in 1790 and is such a  classic New England home with stone walls bordering the fields and several big wooden barns once housing oxen and tobacco. I sometimes laugh thinking about the stories I am adding to it’s history.

I fear this winter might be hard on my three seniors. They will turn 15 early February. Zak is a bit more uncertain when he walks. His gait is less coordinated. Kiefer can’t seem to keep his weight up and gets cold easily.  Paloma is the same happy girl as always. When I call her into the house she stops at the threshold wagging her tail with a big smile on her face. She’s not sure what I want. My daughter describes her as, “pleasantly confused.”

Now that we are spending more time inside, moving through the house has become a bit of a challenge. The 2 younger ones move around like little tornadoes, twirling into me. The older ones move so slow, or don’t move at all.  They just stand in the way blocking doors and pathways so I have to climb over them or gently push their butts off to the side to get by. And then there are 5 other dogs just hanging around me, waiting to see what I’m going to do next. It’s an odd dance that has no flow.

But, at the end of the day, everyone settles in for a cozy night, grabbing beds where ever they can and it all flows just perfect. Well, at least until Kiefer wants something!





The Unintentional Experiment

The Unintentional Experiment

With all of the puppies we had this summer, I ran out of my raw food three weeks before my next order was expected to arrive. Puppies eat almost as much as adults!  The next order wasn’t coming in for several weeks, so everyone had to eat kibble.

Kiefer had his prescription kibble and the rest of my dogs do best on ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe, Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, as far as kibble goes.

A couple of weeks went by and I didn’t see any significant change in any of the dogs-besides huge poops. Huh, I thought maybe the raw food wasn’t responsible for the incredible improvement I saw with the boys. Could it have been the environment or maybe just a fluke?

But by the third week I noticed significant cognitive decline. Zak seemed confused and depressed, All of the older dogs responded slower. Kiefer needed to know where I was more than ever, which made me think his senses were not working as well. All of them were less engaging, but most of all both Kiefer and Zak’s hind legs were giving out. Kiefer’s legs would buckle even from just trying to get a drink of water, and Zak’s legs were splaying out from under him when he tried to get up off the floor. The boys went back to the conditions they had when they came to me in the beginning.

The order of raw food came in and finally, they were back to eating one meal raw food and one meal kibble again. Within days Zak could easily get up off the floor, and Kiefer’s legs stopped shaking and collapsing. The sparkle came back and the bounce in their step was even higher than before. The boys were enthusiastically engaging with our visitors again.

The change was SO significant.

I saw that with Kipling also, several years back when he was 14. But can I make bold statements based on one dog? No.  Now I’ve seen it in 4 old dogs.

I can say now, with confidence, raw dog food is medicine.








Zak’s Predicament


My old guys, Kiefer and Zak, have been here with us now for 5 months. Next month they will be 14.5 years old. I jokingly call them Benjamin Buttons, because I swear they are getting younger. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I freeze every time one of them is deep in sleep. I stand there, holding my breath, waiting to see an inhale.

The other afternoon, as usual, I had let the dogs out to lounge on the hill. The older ones, including Paloma, like to take long naps in the shade.  A few hours had passed and dinnertime was approaching. I called the dogs in and everyone eagerly came in, except Zak.  I called him several times to no response. So I searched under every bush and around every corner and couldn’t find him. I did several more rounds, maybe he went into the barn for his nap? He was no where to be found. The farm was so quiet.

I started checking the house. Maybe he got closed behind the pantry door. But no, he was nowhere to be found in the house either. At this point I was concerned. Had he passed out and was lying somewhere in the tall wild grasses? Is this how his life ends? I thought for a moment that if this was his last day, maybe it was a sweet way to go. Napping in the sunshine on a peaceful hill in the country.

I made my rounds again, calling his name and looking under the same bushes.  Suddenly his dusty colored head popped up from under the Sweet Mock Orange shrub!  Oh, I let out a huge sigh of relief! He never looked more beautiful.

Over the summer the older puppies had dug a shallow hole around the roots to stay cool. While napping under the shrub, Zak had slowly slipped down into that hole and was wedged under the shrub’s roots. He couldn’t shimmy himself out.

I had to cut the thick roots, and with the help of my daughter, we were able to push and pull him out. He was fine, but his back legs were a tad bit weak for having not moved them for some time. He stood up like a newborn foal and happily wobbled into the house just in time for dinner.

Sweet, silly Zak, so happy I have more time with you.


Super Seniors

Kiefer and Zak are gentle in their older age. No one gets into a tiff over girls anymore, or gets obsessed with marking their scent around the property. They are true older gentlemen.

They wake up with tails wagging and bodies bouncing as they make their way outside.  But coming back inside for a delicious meal is why they are truly animated this early in the day.  The older guys savor their food longer than anyone else, slowly enjoying each bite.

Zak gets about 18 oz of raw food-a day, along with:

  • Dasuquin and fish oil for his arthritis
  • Gabapentin for pain relief
  • Digestive enzymes with pre/probiotics, along with “Runs Be Done” for his digestion and nutritional absorption
  • Fresh veggies and fruits-one cube (I blend up fruits and veggies and freeze in ice cube trays)

In his previous home he suffered from diarrhea nearly every night. This regime of diet and supplements has solved that issue, thank heavens!

Kiefer gets the same amount of raw food, along with everything Zak gets:

  • Dasuquin and fish oil
  • Gabapentin
  • Digestive enzymes with pre/probiotics
  • Fresh veggies or fruits
  • (Kiefer doesn’t need “Runs Be Done.”)

Kiefer also gets

  • Milk Thistle twice a day for his liver health

Kiefer’s hair has grown back and is less greasy. He occasionally licks his hair, but has stopped chewing his skin.

His mid-section looks more relaxed and less bunched up, so I am guessing his liver feels better. He has more energy, and is much more animated and joyful.

My concern now is that he doesn’t gain weight.

Both boys’ back legs can be wobbly on their bad days. Maybe they over did it the day before.

After breakfast they wander around outside, sniffing and exploring for a while.  All 8 dogs settle down for nice naps on the thick comfortable beds back in the house, or if it’s warm outside they will lie in the sun by the back door. Their choice.

Everyone is up and out in the afternoon. I try to play fetch with them, but to be honest only Maeve plays, the rest could care less. But they love when I am out with them, no matter what we do.

The boys have adjusted great with all of this. The only thing that could be an adjustment for them is that I am always talking or singing loudly-often in other people’s voice’s (right now it’s Julia Child’s)  It’s one way to keep spirits up!

Dinner is served at 4pm.






Super Senior-Zak

Yesterday I took Zak to the chiropractor for his first adjustment. I was told he has a history of neck pain. Dr. Bud Allen, cracked his neck a few times and adjusted his back. Zak didn’t flinch and seemed to enjoy it. Bud said that Zak’s neck was out of whack and his spine clearly was showing signs of arthritis. We left there with a week supply of an anti-inflammatory, as well. Dr Allen told me that this new med wouldn’t help with nerve pain, but it would help the inflammation. If it helps, then we will know we are not dealing with nerve degeneration.

This morning, Zak woke up and leaped towards the door like a reindeer! He had such a remarkable joy and bounce to his step, something clearly worked!  I laughed and clapped my hands in shear surprise!

Zak feels good.


Keeping cool and healthy

Hot summer days!

We are heading into a hot week and it’s important to keep our beloved Doods cool!

At Berkshire Hills we feed our dogs a lot of vegetables and fruits year round, they even have a garden!

Veggies have major health benefits for not only us but our dogs. Dogs who eat kale have lower rates of cancer, but most veggies and fruits have benefits for your dog*!

(*There are a few foods that are very dangerous to your dog including onions, grapes 

and raisins!) 

According to Ayurvedic principals these foods help reduce the temperature within the body:

  • Cucumbers
  • Alfalfa
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Spinach

When I am making our meal I’ll often toss my dogs the ends of the veggies. My dogs LOVE fruits and vegetables!  The other day they devoured a papaya, competed for the ends of a fennel bulb and chomped on watermelon.

Some people tell me that their dog doesn’t like veggies and fruits. For those dogs you could try making PUPSICLES! Freeze up yogurt and bananas or other fruits. Put pureed veggies in a beef broth and freeze. See what your dog likes.

When I feed my dogs fresh food (meat, organs, veggies, etc) which I do regularly I  puree the veggies and fruits or slightly cook them so my dogs can access the nutrients better. I  give veggies and fruits separate from their dry kibble because they digest at different rates. Dry kibble alone is too dry for dogs. Your dog will be healthier if their diet includes fresh foods.


Happy healthy pup!



Life on Berkshire Hills Farm


What I love about living here at Berkshire Hills Farm is how each season, year after year, surprises me with it’s newness.

This Spring the quince trees are covered in vintage pink flowers, the daffodils that Lois Scott planted 60 years ago are coming up along the rock wall, the lilac blooms are preparing for fragrant mother’s day bouquets and our puppies’ eyes are about to open.