Editorial May 1999 Issue

Choose Your Weapons

Selecting the right treatment takes as much art as science.

Our mailbox has been full lately; I like to think that means we’re doing a good job, whether the letters we are getting are full of praise or criticism. Of course, it would be great to get nothing but glowing notes from happy readers, but it’s unrealistic for one reason: Not everything we write about it going to work for ALL of our readers!

Our job, as we see it, is to provide you with the latest information about holistic dog care and training, from the widest variety of credible sources. We actively seek out the latest studies, as well as the people with the most experience and expertise in their fields, in an effort to present you with information about beneficial treatments you can go right out and use on your dog.

Does this mean that we always give you the one right answer to your dog care and training questions?

That’s a trick question. There is no single correct answer to any dog care and training question!

Health and well-being is a science AND an art, for us and for our dogs. Science can tell us that “Substance X” causes this effect in this population of this kind of dog, but only art can tell us whether our dog might enjoy the same results as the Substance X dogs.

We’ve all heard stories – heck, we’ve published some of these stories – about dogs that were cured of their ills in curious ways. But what cures one dog may well kill the next one.

Not for a second am I trying to suggest we have publicized any approach that could kill your dog, but I am trying to make a point: Perfectly good treatments, used at the wrong time, on the wrong dog, can actually do harm. However, if you are armed with good, solid, well-researched information about a given problem, you can combine this with your intimate knowledge of your own individual dog, to make an informed decision about his diet, training, or medical treatment plan. You might make a mistake; we hope not, but it’s a possibility. Nobody’s perfect.

Along the way, we hope to expand the range of information you have at your disposal, because thinking that you have to decide whether to employ Solution A and Solution B to solve your dog’s problem is the best way to overlook Solutions X, Y, and Z!

To this end, we occasionally publish letters, rebuttals, and other “evidence to the contrary” regarding some of the articles that have appeared in WDJ. This doesn’t mean we did something wrong; it just means that for some dog and some person, a different approach was more effective than the one we wrote about! We publish these letters because we realize that the writers’ solutions might also work for someone else; the unique set of circumstances they describe might more closely resemble another reader’s experiences than our article did.

One of my father’s favorite aphorisms is, “You ALWAYS have options.” But even though I’ve heard him say this a thousand times, it’s a hard thing to remember when you feel like you are up against the hard, cold wall of a decision that needs to be made immediately. It might be a veterinarian saying, “We need to start chemotherapy right away if we are going to try to save him.” It might be a trainer saying, “If I were you, I would knock that dog on his butt right here and now.” And you are thinking, “I can do this, or I can walk away . . .” while you should be thinking, “There must be more options than these two . . .”

Our advice? Keep your mind and heart open as you read through this and every other issue. This month, we’re trying to help you decide about electronic fencing, the best diet for dogs, how to help noise-phobic dogs, how to treat lick granuloma, and much more.

-By Nancy Kerns

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