“What can I say about Doodle?” says Christine Mandrake, co-founder of Well Beings, a San Diego-based business that specializes in products for senior dogs and cats. “She was a wonderful and amazing dog. Amazing because this nearly 18½-year-old shepherd mix survived cancer, and wonderful because she changed our lives.”
Although she had spent years working for animal welfare, Christine and her husband Jeffrey never had a dog before they adopted Doodle in the spring of 2003. “After months at a local shelter, with few prospects, we decided we had to take her and give her a good loving home for however long she had left.”
Doodle was very depressed when the couple first brought her home, but that changed when they fostered a co-worker’s dog named Mickey Mouse. The vivacious, fun-loving pit bull mix breathed life back into Doodle and they became fast friends. “Mickey was more than Doodle’s buddy,” says Christine. “She helped with her grooming, kept an eye on her whenever we were out, and lavished her with those famous pit bull kisses throughout the day.” Doodle was a carefree, happy dog again.
Then tragedy struck. That autumn, Doodle was diagnosed with an oral tumor. It was surgically removed, only to grow back bigger and faster, leading to a second surgery the following February. “Our vet gave her a poor prognosis,” says Christine. “The cancer had metastasized into the surrounding tissues and we would be faced with euthanasia when the tumor returned. Jeffrey and I could not accept that our sweet, happy dog with a second lease on life would have to die because of a growth in her mouth.”
It was then that the couple contacted a local holistic vet, Dr. Tamara Hebbler (www.healinghope.net). “Through her care and expertise, and our dedication to saving Doodle, we learned about many complementary treatments and began our journey into natural healing.”
The vet treated Doodle by prescribing a variety of supplements to support her immune system and internal organ functions. “Doodle has been one of my greatest teachers,” says Dr. Hebbler. “Holistic medicine is a spiritual journey facilitating individual healing through balance. We are each unique, but so interconnected, and this is so apparent in the beloved pets I treat. The power of positive thought should never be discounted.”
Thanks to the holistic treatment, Doodle lived another two years and two months, cancer-free, before passing away in April of this year. During those years, aside from the expected “creakiness” of old age, she still leapt around the yard and remained excited about her daily walks. ”Though all our animals give us inspiration every day, it was our Doodle bug who led us to want to share the benefits of natural healing with other pet owners,” says Christine. As a result, she and Jeffrey started Well Beings (www.wellbeings.com) in May of 2005. The website lets you shop for a wide range of holistic products for senior dogs and cats, from food, treats and grooming supplies to ramps and pet stairs, and includes articles on topics such as essential oils, homeopathy and herbs as well as some of the health problems that can afflict older animals. There’s also a blog where you can share your experiences with others. “Thanks to Doodle, we offer healthy products and provide information to help animals live longer, healthier lives, giving hope and inspiration to senior caregivers.”