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Forest Bathing - Behr

(Different view of yesterday’s post)

Right now, while Mom is typing what I say, I’m lying close by all snuggled in my blankie. We also have the smell of trees drifting through our house. Mmmmm. As soon as she’s done typing we get to go for a walkie and smell lots of trees. Yay! Type faster, Mom!

So, have you ever heard of something called “Forest Bathing?” No, for real. I didn’t make that up. In Japan they call it Shinrin-yoku, which literally means “forest bathing.” It’s where you go for a walk in the forest and enjoy with wonderful pine tree smells and it makes you healthier, happier, and sleep better. It’s not a walk where you rush, but slow down and enjoy the beauty and smells.

The people of Japan are lucky because they have a LOT of forests there (67% of the land!) and it is a recognized form of stress management.    ( Doctors even prescribe it!).  Here are some pictures of me forest bathing. 

(this one was before I started turning white…)Behr walking in forest framed

Here’s me stopping to enjoy the whole forest, not just the smells on the ground. That was HARD for me to learn at first. 🙂

Behr on Forest Trail- Oregon

Here I am standing in the forest and gazing at the peaceful lake. Kind of a forest meditation…

Behr by lake - BB

Ok, so I got distracted with the size of THIS tree. Well, that and the squirrel that ran up it..

Behr in Redwoods

Even the trees themselves seem happier in the forest. I feel sorry for the poor trees that live in the city. They should move to the forest. Really. Maybe we should too 🙂

Happy Tree

Wow, all of this forest bathing really IS making me sleepy…

Behr - Tired on hike

By the way, I know some of you live where it’s snowing right now. That’s ok. You can put a tree in your house like Mom does this time of year, and then go for walks when it’s not snowing. 

May the FOREST be with you 🙂

♥♥ Behr Behr, the Forest Princess

Behr Behr’s mom here.

What an wonderful concept! The Forest Agency of Japan has created acres and acres of beautiful forests for the people to go to in order to “de-stress” and get healthier. It may sound funny to post this in the winter, but winter is when a lot of people feel “down”, so it just might be helpful to consider. I have to wonder if that’s why many people feel so wonderful in the fall and spring, when the weather makes outdoor activities more inviting. (not too hot, not too cold) When there ARE decent days, though, this could be a good thing.

Meanwhile, breathing essential oils of balsam fir (or maybe pine) in an essential oil diffuser could bring cheer, or even looking out of the window at trees if that’s all you have. One time when I had a really painful surgery (out of the MANY I’ve had…), I found that just watching videos of nature helped calm me and reduce my pain levels some.

I actually like to blend essential oils of Balsam Fir mixed with Orange oil for a particularly uplifting blend. Orange oil (or Bergamot even)  has been shown to reduce depression and stress. Of course, having a real Christmas tree or wreath are helpful if you celebrate the holidays with those. Studies have even shown that hospital patients with trees to look at outside of their rooms have faster healing times.

Here’s a great website with more information about what forest bathing is: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/. 

Australia has created the “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” program (http://www.hphpcentral.com/) modeled after Japan’s Shinrin-yoku, and it is s.l.o.w.l.y starting to catch on here in the U.S.A. as well. Emphasis on the word slowly.

So, being the major scientific research fanatic that I am, I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of evidence that exists to support the concept of forest therapy building our health.

For example, breathing the oils (called phytoncides) from the coniferous trees (tree that have cones, like pines) has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. These same oils increase your natural killer cells that help prevent tumors. The tree oils basically build your immune system. Important to keep up, even in winter. We just have to bundle up and convince ourselves to go outside on decent days in the winter 🙂 

It’s recommended to spend at least 20 minutes in the forest, and if you spend 2-3 days there (vacation anyone??) the effects on your immune system can last up to 30 days afterward. Wow! Even just 20 minutes can reduce cortisol (stress hormones) by 13%, however.

Forest bathing also increases your creativity and problem solving capability. Many famous authors and inventors did their creative thinking on walks. 

If you are so inclined, you can learn more basic information on these websites:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/,

https://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/about/science,

http://molpharm.aspetjournals.org/content/90/5/530,

http://www.hphpcentral.com/article/forest-bathing.

Ok, I’m going to bundle up and brave the cold, dreary, windy weather to take Behr for a walk now. Both of us need help with our immune systems, so that’s my motivation for the moment. Brrr.

You guessed it! ME! Yippee! SO rare for Great Danes to make it to my age, although I’d love to live longer than Mom’s last dane girl, Cody. Cody lived to be 13 before the ugly “C” word cut her life short. She is the sister I wish I could have known and played with. We would have loved each other, and loved Mom together. 

Anyhow, to celebrate this big day, AND to celebrate one year since I was paralyzed, Mom planned a special day for me. She packed the car with our travel stuff and we drove something like 18 hours (in dog time) to get to a special forest that I love. Read the rest of this entry »

Behr looking at view

Wooden dog R

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(Note: this is part 2 of the story of Behr’s paralysis. For the rest of the story, please read part 1)

We came home from the vet hospital and then got a second opinion (and third!). I think a second opinion is one that only takes a second to explain or something.  

Mom still used the harness to help me go potty outside because I couldn’t walk by myself anymore.

Then she gave me some tiny pills and I began to feel better!! After 2 days I could walk a little, although I was kinda wobbly. By two weeks, I could even run again, and celebrated by a brief zoomie run in the house (before she stopped me).

Then we started going to a new vet that I REALLY REALLY like. I’m so excited when we get to the new vet place that I jump around and cry for joy in the car. The only other time I do that is when we drive to hiking places.

The new vet takes porcupine quills and sticks them in my back. I like it and usually lie down and fall asleep when she sticks me with them.

I think Mom should just get a porcupine for me and borrow their quills all the time.

The the vet puts a funny mask on me like this:

racoon framed

Ok. Just kidding. It really looks like this: 

Doggles framed

Then the vet uses laser on my back. Not the kind for playing laser tag. It feels NICE!! I get so relaxed that I walk like I’m drunk when I try to leave the vet place. Sometimes I even crash into things. Oops.

So now I can totally walk all by myself and even go for hikes with Mom again. Yipee!! 

♥♥ Behr Behr, the racoon masked dog playing laser tag with the vet 🙂 

Behr’s mom here. Behr’s version of the story is funny, but she kinda left out a few things. I’ll fill you in.

Wow. I got home from getting opinions from the veterinarians and felt absolutely CRUSHED. What should I do with a dog who absolutely LOVES running and jumping and hiking and zoomie runs…but may never even walk again? There’s always that “quality of life” talk that I hate. I understand it, but hate it, nonetheless.

She couldn’t walk with her back legs. They hung, useless, and even crossed when I half carried her to go potty, with her feet dragging and folded over (knuckling under). Her disc injury at C5-C6 was pretty bad, in addition to intervertebral disc disease/bone spurs in her lumbar spine. Not good.  

As if that weren’t bad enough, I had suffered a career ending spinal injury myself right before this. That left me with nerve damage in my right leg, so severe that I have to use a Walk-Aide brace that shocks my leg to cause my foot to lift so I can walk. walk aide brace framed

I was all too familiar with spinal nerve pain, and knew how debilitating it could be.  I also wondered how in the world I, in this condition, could care for Behr.  Seriously, I was on stress overload.

My heart was swirling with emotions that were all over the place and I couldn’t get them to stop swirling. I was suddenly putting together little clues that she had problems since the fall, but hadn’t connected the dots to recognize what they meant. To be fair, I HAD taken her to the vet multiple times and told them the “clues”, but no one figured what they pointed to.

Behr LOVES rolling in the grass, but would try to and sometimes stop suddenly and jump up. We’d throw a ball for her which she would run hard for several times and then stop suddenly and go lay down or even run and hide. On hikes, she would sometimes start panting even when it was 45 degrees F. The vet checked her legs and other places with no response from Behr that would indicate pain. We checked her thyroid even.

Now that I found out that she had maybe been in pain for a while, I felt horrible. What kind of dog mom am I? Ugh. The regret can eat at you.

So, a few years earlier I had become curious about so-called “alternative medicine” because of some  of my friends who are doctors,pharmacists and pharmacologists (create the drugs) were telling me they had great results with herbs, homeopathy, and other methods.

I ordered a veterinary book about homeopathy because my pharmacologist friend said it was the very safest form of medicine, even for animals. The book had been sitting on my shelf, unread, for weeks.

Then the thing with Behr Behr happened. Suddenly I was open to anything that would help her.

I tried some suggestions in the book (By Dr. Richard Pitcairn DVM) and was totally shocked at the results!!!! It couldn’t be placebo effect since dogs have no idea what you are giving them or why, and no pre-conceived ideas of what the pills should do. No way it was “all in Behr’s head” and not real. She went from not walking to running within 2 weeks. No cart (wheelchair), no crate rest, no physical therapy, no pharmaceuticals.  

Because of the shocking results, I then sought out a veterinarian trained by Dr. Pitcairn to further evaluate and treat Behr. She LOVES going to see her. That’s scary. What dog does that!?  

Behr has her pain managed with herbs, homeopathy, and cold laser. No side effects from pharmaceuticals. For now, this is working. I’d love to have stem cell treatment for her if they could do it without anesthesia.

I did have to get a ramp for her to get into our vehicle with, and switch to a harness instead of her collar for walking. Those are such minor changes in the overall scheme of things.  

The point is, she’s still here, and still able to enjoy life. It works out ok that we both walk slower now and have to take breaks. I had always walked like I was in a race, trying to see how much ground we could conquer, as fast as possible, with lots of elevation gains along the way.

Today I’m just happy to just be with Behr. She gets to go “sight seeing” with her nose because I’ve slowed down enough for her to take in all of the wonderful smells. I’m not constantly hurrying her along on my agenda to conquer.  And I now notice beauty all around that I never took the time to see because I was always rushing. How could that be a bad thing?

So here we are now, on the one year anniversary of this whole injury. Since then, she’s won more titles in her favorite sport (nosework), played at the beach, gone for hikes, and taken vacations.  

Quality of life? I think so. Hers and ours.

no outlet -framed

This week is a very special anniversary to us. It was exactly one year ago that I suddenly couldn’t walk. The animal hospital (and later other vets) said I probably wouldn’t regain the ability to walk. But I did.

It’s THIS incident that ALSO caused mom to try other medicine that she used to believe was silly. The results forever changed her opinion of homeopathy and other medicines. 

Here’s how it all happened. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Hi friends. It’s Behr Behr. Sorry we haven’t posted in a bit.

Mom’s got a new collar and she’s had trouble helping me type.

Read the rest of this entry »

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