Life Lessons from Fur Friends Part Two
Health and Well Being
Freedom and Fulfillment
Passion and Purpose
Spirituality ~ Religion
Love and Relationships
Denise grew up loving all animals (especially dogs) and reading. She is passionate for all rescues, with an extra place in her heart for dog rescues with special needs. She believes pets teach us important life lessons. "Not Like the Others" is the first book in her series "Life Lessons from Fur Friends". In “Not Like the Others” you are introduced to Harley her rescued Yorkshire terrier. He will learn the meaning of a forever family and unconditional love. In addition to writing, Denise volunteers for local animal shelters, works as a Family Nurse Practitioner, and she is a mom to four humans-and a dog. We are a forever family through adoption which all started when I rescued Harley.
Gift Pet with Special Needs: https://bit.ly/3kTH6ey
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Welcome to the Heart Soul Wisdom Podcast, a journey of self discovery and transformation. Moira Sutton and her amazing guests share real life stories, tools and strategies to inspire and empower you have to create and live your best life. Come along on the journey and finally blast through any fears, obstacles and challenges that have held you back in the past so you can live your life with the joy, passion and happiness that you desire. Now, here's your host Create the Life you Love, Empowerment Life Coach, Moira Sutton
Welcome to season two episode 42 life lessons from fur friends part two, with a returning guest, author, RN and Family Nurse Practitioner Denise Gruzensky. Denise grew up loving all animals, especially dogs. She's passionate for all rescues with an extra place in her heart for dog rescues with special needs. She believes pets teach us important life lessons. 'Not Like the Others' is the first book in her series, Life Lessons from Fur Friends. In 'Not Like the Others' you're introduced to Harley, her rescue Yorkshire Terrier. He will learn the meaning of a forever family and unconditional love. In addition to writing Denise volunteers for local animal shelters, works as a family nurse practitioner, and she's a mom to four humans and a dog. "We are a forever family through adoption, which all started when I rescued Harley." Denise states. So without further ado, I'm so excited to welcome back our special guest, Denise Gruzensky. Welcome Denise.
Thank you, Moira. It is so exciting. It's such an honor to be back again.
Oh, I love it. I I brought some guests back. Another one that comes back a lot is Sheva Carr from the HeartMath Institute. I think she has a very important message especially in the times that we're in and yourself, what a rescue, like rescuing and adoption. And, you know, our first conversation was wonderful. And then I realized we could go on for another hour. So I thought that's a long time for people to listen. So I thought definitely have you back. And you really are a beautiful soul.
Well, I just love your podcast. I love listening to your other guests as well. So again, I really appreciate being here.
You are welcome. So I want to go back to when you were growing up and how you and your sister Deb, who was a firefighter, smoke jumper and she parachuted out of planes into Wildfire? Well, you you know at times your parents when they were asked where you both were, you were in the middle of the ocean working on cruise lines for many years as a as a nurse. Well as a family, nurse practitioner, the title. So my whole thing with that is, you know, you really can live your passion. And I want you to share a bit of that story how you two developed into these beings that you you know, you have a passion for adventure? And what advice would you give people with your story? Big question again, starting off Denise. How do people really know that they can follow their dreams and live them no matter what because a lot of people have that doubt? And you both are doing it. And I love my listeners to hear that story. And you know, how did you get to that point, but with you and just to share, you know, you develop this passion for adventure and off you win. And no matter why you did what you love. So what would be a big, big wisdom gem and just share a bit of that growing up with your parents, because that's a different family than somebody saying, "Well, you can't do this or you're not smart enough, tall enough, skinny enough, something enough in there?" Because like I know in my story, I went to university. I was the first one in my family. But when I was younger, my dad said that Ian my middle brother was the smartest then Struther. I didn't even get smarts. I got, "But you're the kind of soul Moira." I thought it was nice, but I sort of thought well don't I get the brains here? Right. Right. So but either way, they supported me. There you go.
Right, well, and I think that's kind of that's as much as my mom. My mom will say sometimes she'll say I don't know where the girls got their sense of adventures from. But honestly, my family my parents were always incredibly encouraging about pursuing our dreams and I watched my parents pursue their dreams as well. So and it never was it when you say that story. It may it takes me back. I can remember sitting in the car and my dad will forever be sorry that he said it because he apologized for it many times over after that. But he made a comment about how athletic my sister was how great my grades were. And what was really funny was we both played varsity basketball in high school, and we both had straight A's. So it was one of those things where I was like, wait a minute, what do you mean? Talking about that doesn't make any sense. So and like I said, He will forever be apologetic for having said that at all. But we were both very encouraged. I never heard once from my parents, that I couldn't do something. Hmm. Well, I, I always had that belief that I could be anything I wanted to be. So I try to instill that in my children. I think that's a really big growth mindset, that, you know, we can do things through work and not being perfect, but being happy. All of those are things that we're trying to instill in our children. I think that it's hard, even if you've grown up with that, like you and I have. And then there's some people that didn't grow up with that. I think it's a hard thing to really try to I, it's a constant overcoming an imposter syndrome. I don't know how much your listeners have heard that phrase before. But I know, even growing up in that environment, when I went to nurse practitioner school, I sat in nurse practitioner school thinking, someday they're gonna figure out that I'm not smart enough to be here, hmm. And then I start, I write the book. And I think, well, somebody is going to read this. And they're going to realize I'm not a real writer. And I say that with quotation marks around it. So there's this constant battle within ourselves, to believe in ourselves. And to know that we can do it, we can achieve whatever we set our minds out to. But making sure that you're aware of that internal battle, I think that an awareness is a huge piece of that, right? Just knowing, wait a minute, this negative self talk, I need to stop that, because that's not true. This isn't my truth. This isn't what it is. For me, it wasn't even how I was raised. So where is this coming from? And I think that that's a really important piece. And, honestly, I've been through counseling. I really firmly believe that talking to an expert talking to a counselor, we all need at times. And so when there's been times when I've been harder on myself than others, it helps to have that additional person to help you see things a little clearer.
And not not so much. It's nice to talk to your partner or, you know, maybe a parent in that, but they're, they're still, I don't know, the underlying agenda. So there's, there's interaction in a different level. So when you say you go to a professional, you can just be totally honest, and not feel like there's going to be, you know, a repercussion or something like that. Or, or, you know, I think I was saying to you just before today that my beautiful husband, who does the transcription for the show and takes time, like you said, you know, I was reading over our first beautiful conversation and, and I noticed just a couple of little, little tiny, tiny things like, like, very tiny, but I circled them. And when I said it to him, I thought, you know, later, that's not serving that relationship to say that to him, and he'll be hearing us because he's going to be transcribing this. So that's not why. But to have a side input, and he was saying different things about my interview. And he's always there to support me and, and for me, you know, it's just to listen to know, he's not coming at me, he's coming to support me and be a cheerleader for me. But that's good. What you said it's, it's a self discovery is a process. It's the journey. And this is all about the sacred journey. It's not about the destination, because we all know, once you get to where you want to be, now, you're gonna go to the next part.
All right, you always find something new for sure. So and I tell I tell my patients a lot too. And it's wonderful to have your family support that's in that's invaluable. I mean, it's, yes, such an amazing thing. But a professional counselor is going to help you in ways that even I as your family nurse practitioner, if I happen to be your provider or your family cannot. And I usually go into coping mechanisms specifically. That, you know, a counselor is gonna be able to sit down and talk you through ways to cope with whatever situation you're going through. So that's usually where I ended up leading that back to as well our families. It's wonderful to have wonderful families that are listening to us for sure. And that support is invaluable.
And community and friends because I know, you know, here we've moved to Nova Scotia and the community and the people who are so friendly. We've never experienced this. They're so friendly. They're so caring. They really care like really care. They're not just saying something to have a dialogue there. Really. Do you love it here. Do you like it here? Can we do anything for you? Like they're just amazing people. So that's amazing. We're not leaving Nova Scotia anytime soon.
So I'm glad you love it,
especially since you've moved so far. Yes, yes. This is a good segue into a book that you promoted by, okay. It's by Jen Hatmaker, who you mentioned on the last interview, and her book is Fierce, Free and Full of Fire. So, you know, what did you learn from? You know, you said that this was like a major aha moment for you by reading her book. Tell me what to do learn, and how did this affect the next decisions you made in your own life?
Well, part of what, um, well, I was lucky enough to be on the launch team for that book as well, which I had never been on a book launch team before. But it was she takes a lot of different aspects of your life part of... So I grew up a Christian, I still am a Christian. But I grew up in a Christian background. And I was introduced to Jen Hatmaker, at what was called a women of faith conference years and years and years ago. And I loved her humor, she's got an amazing sense of humor, and just really, really appreciated who she was as a person. And in and around 2016, she went through a major transformation in our own life, where she was figuring out how God and religion figure filled into her views on the LGBTQ community and acceptance and true inclusionary Christianity. And at the time, the company that she was writing for, pulled literally pulled her books from the shelves. She knew that by making that transformation, she was potentially giving up her career. And she did it anyway. And so I have really admired that anyway. But what Fierce Free and Full of Fire is about is becoming your true authentic self in every area of your life. It's the side the sideline to it is The Guide to Being the Glorious, to Being Glorious You and she says, "No more people pleasing, no more hiding no more, being the sidelines of your own life", is one of her phrases. We need to be brave, we need to claim our gifts and quirks and all of our emotions and be set free so that we can be full of fire.
And she breaks that down into different categories of who I am, what I need, what I want, what I believe and how I connect. And it's just a truly incredible - it was it I still I go back and I read it now three times already. And I go back and I take notes and I listen to it again. It's just there's so many areas of that. And I can go back and forth to maybe I need this section now. Or maybe I need this other section at another time. So it's it was truly transfer transformative for me.
I'm looking at it here because I, I thought you might want to play a little bit with that, with those self reflective categories. We didn't do that before. But you know, like, like you said, you just went you know, who am I? So, if you were going to define yourself, do you want to play a little bit?
I can I have to? You know, I actually took notes on this section. When I was, when I've been reading the book, of course, they're nowhere near here. I am a person who is a continuous learner. My life reflects that. I think every aspect of my life reflects that. I want to learn how to be a better mom. I'm currently taking a six week course in happy kids not perfect kids. I think I talked about before I'm in a genomics course to the City of Hope. And I just started that two weeks ago. And boy is that a lot of work. I told my kids the other day, I walked outside and I said, "Okay, everybody's gonna have to bear with mommy for the next 12 weeks. Plus, plus", because you know how our family Moto is we can do Moto is we can do hard things through work? Mommy is going back to school. And I had just I was in the first week of the course. And I was back to biology and DNA to RNA and how introns and exons and my head is still bursting and I can't like I have to go back and still reference that that's not stuff that stuck with me even through college. But I am I'm a continuous learner. I continuously want to try to be - this is gonna sound cliche - but a better person who brings more things to the to the world and those around me.
See, and I've said this before Denise when somebody says something that touches my soul, and it's coming from your soul, I get tears in my eyes. So I know that that is so much like truth and who you are and what you know, what you take a stand for and how you're being in the world. So this this, yeah, I can feel the tear. So that's pretty. That's pretty cool. So that yeah, there's a lot of great categories there. Because the next one is like, what do you need? Is there anything you need right now? Like, you sort of went through it with your family to say, I need this time and space?
And, and the support? You know, my husband is incredibly supportive of every endeavor that I try to do every time I tell him, like when I went to him to say, Okay, can I do it? It's not like I can I do. I had a patient one time when I said it like that. She said, I'm very concerned about you and your marriage. No, it's not that my, it's not that I have to get permission from my husband to do this. It's just a conversation. But like, do you mind if I go into a 12 week course?
Right? Right, I get it.
Um, so he's incredibly supportive. My parents are incredibly supportive. I think although my kids may not under fully understand what's going on right now, I honestly think that, you know, my mom went back and got her bachelor's degree when I was in high school. And I still remember that to this day, and I was so proud of her, even though it did take time away from us, for that period of time that she was in school. I remember her going into her room and closing the door, so she could study. So hopefully I'm instilling that in my children as well, that desire for learning and seeing that, you know, mommy can do that too. And I need my community. I don't need, the older I get, the less I need a larger community. And the more I need those authentic relationships. I don't need as many of them I just, I, I need those close ones that are authentic. And being able to be my full person being able to be integrated in all parts of my life. So and what that means to me is that I also believe in inclusionary Christianity, and there are a lot of churches out there that don't feel that way. And trying to be the same person in every, in every piece of my life. So, you know, I'm not feeling like I need to speak this way in this group, and then be this person for this group. And then this group needs to see a different part of Denise. I'm the same person in all of those places. And the book talks about that, and it's been something I have really been striving for them before I had read that piece in her book.
That's a that really aligns with my own purpose, passion. And it's been close to my heart since I was very little. I know, growing up in my, my junior high school, there was one black person. And that's it, everybody else was white. And then when I went to, you know, high school, there was Greek backgrounds and other Chinese and, you know, different other backgrounds. And I was fascinated by other families. And, you know, just my little white background kind of thing. And I'm such a person that stands for diversity. And to celebrate that and inclusive, like you're saying to include people and celebrate how we're different. It'd be pretty boring if we're all the same, or you know, and to celebrate that from your heart and connect with people and create a safe space for people to be who they to be authentic are. So I love that you do that. And I love that you share that story that Jen does that. I definitely will be supporting that and putting that out there for both of you. Let's jump into from there, you know, you talked briefly, we just said it. We didn't go into it. But your next book is going to be you said about Rainbow Bridge and grief for kids. Can you tell our listeners what that is? And how this speaks to your heart and soul?
Oh, yes. So I don't know if anybody has ever heard the Rainbow Bridge. But the it's a small it's a short poem. And I just I have to Oh, I'm in the wrong just one second. I need to read it to your to your listeners. Because it just has meant so much. They don't know who wrote it. Oh, but if you ever have a pet pass away oh, there's a dog in the back. Yeah, hello, Tom. It is one of those things where you can find it everywhere. I don't again, I don't know that you can. The author is unknown. So um, but it says just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here. That pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There are plenty of food. There's plenty of food, water and sunshine and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who have been ill and are old or restored to health and vigor and those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we were Remember them in our dreams of the days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, especially for except for one small thing. They miss someone very special to them who had had to be left behind. They all run and play together. But the day comes when suddenly, one suddenly stops and looks up into the distance. His Bright Eyes are intense, and his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, he begins to run from the group flying over the green grass, the legs, carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted. And when you and your special friend finally meet you cling together and joyous reunion never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face, your hands again, caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet. So long gone from your life, but never absent in your heart. And then you cross the rainbow bridge together.
Oh, that's beautiful. Thank you, Denise.
Oh, yeah. So that is what I want. I want that kind of hope. And that kind of thought process for kids through grief. And to help kids deal with all kinds of grief, not just the loss of a pet. And as I say this, I almost want to cry because one of my really, really good close friends, Carol Bryant just lost their dog unexpectedly yesterday, and it was heartbreaking it was, it was just so so heartbreaking. But, you know, for kids, they don't, they don't understand that concept of, of life and death and, and we all have different concepts about what happens when we die. We don't all have the same idea about what that is. And that's diversity as well. And so what I like about the Rainbow Bridge, too, is that it doesn't tie you into a specific religion or a specific belief about what happens after you die, but gives you just this, this hope and a peaceful feeling about it. And when we we went to I haven't even written the book yet - we went to drive past; we have a whole we're refuge; the acreage that we live on the it's an old ranch over 1000 acres and all these houses are in this gated community and it's actually a refuge for exotic animals. So we have deer running around. I remember I don't I don't know if I had said this to you before. But like I had I had thought of like there's this these deer. There's this herd of deer that's towards the front of the gate and the one buck looks like he belongs on the side of a hill in Patagonia. And my husband looks at me one day he goes, babe, that's a sheep. Like, Oh, okay. All right.
You didn't mention that you're on a, like 1000 acreage, wow,
Well, we don't own 1000 acres. We have an eight and a half acre piece of property with our house, but then there's a ton of houses around us. But yeah, the community that we live in is, is a is a refuge. So that's really, really cool. But we're there, we passed this, this little jackrabbit had been hit on the side of the road and, and was dead here in our community. And you don't see that very often in our community because people drive so carefully knowing that we have animals everywhere, but this poor little jackrabbit and my oldest son goes, "Mommy, he's at the Rainbow Bridge". Oh, and I was like, okay. So I want children to be able to look at, to be able to look at death and dying and, and grief, and be able to sit in it because we need to be able to grieve, we need to be able, you know, being sad is okay, that's part of the process. And we need to feel that and experience that while at the same time. Having that feeling that you get when you read that poem.
And I know you're talking about children, but even adults, like you know, and like you said, we all have our own beliefs. And, you know, in our Jazzy past, we had to put her down and I was just over the top. And I'm not a doctor nurse. So Denise, I have a psychology background. And so even that was just too much for me and and then that night not very later on she showed up she was running around in spirit and as a kitten. so she was no longer in any pain and Cliffs saw her first and then I saw and but it doesn't take away from missing her. I just knew she was fine. So she was on that Rainbow Bridge.
Yeah, it's just such a beautiful. I just love that beautiful concept. And then with with adoption afterwards, I'll never forget when I lost, when Harley passed away, because Harley had been with me for five years before. Denton, my husband and I met and when he passed away, my grief was so severe. It was um I had people thinking I had gone crazy. It was it was that dramatic, when he passed. And I remember my husband saying a few months later, he's like, Babe, I don't think we should get another dog. I don't think I can watch you go through that. And I happened to read a book at the time. And I've read it multiple times since and it's called Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates, written by a Baptist minister. One of the things he says in that book is he, first of all, don't push yourself. You'll know when the time is right. And then you never ever replace a pet. It is always about sharing the love you had for that pet by saving another one of their kind.
Oh, I love the title that one Cool Noses at the Pearly Gates. That was pretty brilliant. I know that we're in the process right now. A dog or cat we're thinking - dog more than cat or maybe both. But we're drawing more to a dog. And I can always, even in my meditation today, I do a meditation prayer every day. And you know, I was talking to spirit about the space being created that I can start to feel the animal, the right animal that's supposed to come to us, for us to love. And yeah, so it's kind of exciting. So all the dogs in the neighborhood and stuff because this is a dog neighborhood. You know, I say oh, what kind of dog is that? And I can only talk to all these dogs and their owners. And yeah, I can talk to animals. But I'm not talking to the dog.
I know what you mean, though, because I remember, oftentimes, I'll remember I used to go to pet blogging conferences, and I would remember the pet's name, and sometimes not the owner's name the next year, like I'm really sorry, I remember your animal and I follow your blog. So I really shouldn't know your name...
You talk about your blog. I know you traveled with Harley to Montreal with them. So he was like your best buddy. You were saying, you know, before you met Denton and got married to and a big part of your life. So I love how you have this thing called Traveling Tails. Another play on words - I love play on words. Yeah. What are some insights? If I can just take you there? For people who want to travel? They don't want to put their dog in a place or be away from them or their cat. What would you share with people? You know, because you're experienced at this and to take their animal along with them? And does it stress a dog out? Do they have to be, you know, have like a sleeping pill to calm down? Or what would you say to people that want to travel with their animals?
Well, first of all, I think you need to know your animal. Yes. Right. I think because like you just said about pets being stressed out. When they're traveling, some pets are more stressed than others. And then taking them with you is probably not the best way to go. Because it's it's not what they would enjoy. They're not going to enjoy that. And then being prepared. There's a lot of things that go into traveling with a dog. And so my dog continues to bark.
I love that he's barking today
Yeah, I have no idea what she's barking at currently, but there might be a squirrel in the yard. She likes to bark at the squirrels.
Well, I'm glad she's part of it.
So we've definitely, this this is the little white one. So she's the one that you see in the pictures on the blog now too.
Oh, yes. Beautiful picture.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So being prepared, um, for traveling, you know. Making sure that your pet is also safe. You know, when I drive in a car with with a dog? My dog wears a seatbelt as well. So, um, that's important. Their safety. If you take them on an airplane, they have to be within a certain size. So you know, if you're choosing your dog, here's something at the beginning, right? You guys are at that place where you're deciding on what type of dog to get. And if you want your dog to travel with you, it's going to be a very, very important thing about the size because if you're planning on taking them on planes, they have to be small enough to - well, they can go under the plane, but there are there are hazards to having your pet fly underneath the plane. So you would really need to look into that and if you're going to travel on a regular basis like I did with Harley, it was really important to me that he could be on the plane with me. There's certain sizes of pet carriers that are allowed on flights versus others. Then making sure that you have a little bit of, you know, safety - obviously you have to have enough food and then I've travel bowls and all that regular stuff. Make sure you have a leash. Make sure you have your harness. Make sure you keep your dog leashed, even if you have a dog that's really good about being about being off leash. When you're traveling with your dog. You may hear different things from different people, but I personally wouldn't do that. I would make sure they stayed on a leash. We also have a GPS tracker device. It's called a whistle monitor. I call it a Fitbit for dogs. We've had that for the last two dogs. It'll actually monitor how much Sierra scratches and how much sleep she has, although honestly, we take it off her at night. Because her clanging dog tags are kind of annoying when you're trying to sleep.
Denise do you sell these products on your site? I know that you have a lot of information about good food and how to take care of your animal. Do you also sell all those things or affiliates to them? Because that's great information where you're sharing?
Well, thank you. I don't sell them on my site. I do have a category Shasta Swag and Dog Deals - that was the dog in between Hurley - and then I do link to some of my favorite products on there.
Would you say for somebody who hasn't had maybe a dog for a long time or even an animal? Do you think maybe foster first to make sure that something you want to do or to literally just dive in and you know, find a rescue dogs or the right animal for your family? Because I would think that fostering you'd get really for me... somebody said it to me the other day on our street she - I said we're looking at you know, we're looking strongly to get a dog. And so she said, Well, we're looking to foster. And I thought fostering you'd get attached to the, little puppy or a dog and then you have to give that animal away. I would think that would be hard.
I'm not a good Fosterer. That's a word. I have am horrible fosterer because I am true foster failure on every level. Because I fall in love. We have a family friend here where we live, and they were looking to get a second dog and they'd found one at one of the local shelters. And I went with them. Went with her to get Hank. She wasn't sure how to go about it. They had purchased their last dog as a purebred. I think anyway. So I went to the shelter, showed him how to - the shelter helped do it too - but you know, helped with the dog meet and greet and letting her have some comfort and knowing that they were getting along well. If you already have an animal that's really important, that's one of the first things you'll do. And if you have anybody that has an animal, in your family, that the dog will be exposed to on a regular basis, you're going to want them to meet that animal as well at the shelter before you ever bring them home. So that's really, really important. You can make arguments either way. You can make arguments either way. I think that if you're someone who's not sure whether or not this will be right for your family. I mean, the this friend of ours, it turned out they were severely allergic to this poor dog. So the dog only lasted for 24 hours in their home, and then had to go back to the shelter. And I moved - I hardly knew anybody here - I moved heaven and earth and texted everyone I knew and one of those people knew someone that they worked with that was looking for another dog and got him rescued. Because that was just those eyes because they had been so sad inside the shelter and then the 24 hours that he was out of the shelter they had just lit up and it was a different dog and then to know that he had gone back behind those bars in the shelter. So that's kind of where that that rub comes. And I know I sound like I'm kind of talking all over the place but if you're not really sure yes, fostering is good - I mean dogs need to be fostered no matter what. I have several friends who have multiple animals of their own and they still foster. Fostering is amazing. It brings the dog out of the shelter. It gets them socialized and it makes them actually more adoptable to be honest. And if they can go straight from their foster home into their forever home, that's the ideal world. Like it doesn't have to be your home but sometimes you can foster an animal. Somebody comes and meets them and then they adopt them. But you also have to think about the fact that taking an animal and then putting it back behind those bars again in a shelter, putting it back in a cage is very traumatic for the animal. And there's a lot of trust issues that happen with that. And that's where Harley was, when we first rescued him. Now, he didn't even end up in a shelter where we - meaning me because it was me and myself and I at the time. That's where Harley was at the time. He, had been with a family. The family was getting a divorce. And the mom had a new - this was just information I heard through the vet's office - but the mom had a boyfriend. Boyfriend didn't want the dog or the kids. I believe that Harley must have been her dog because he had definite signs of neglect, when he came to live with me. And then he also had signs of resource guarding where potentially he had been teased with food or not said quite enough, and had some real problems with resource guarding and some problems with trust. So he'd been given to the vet's office that had been taking care of him since he was a puppy, asked them to find him another home, then a friend of the mother's came and got him to come home for like three days, and then brought him back and said, this dog only wants to be on my lap, I can't stand this, I can't take him. And so by the time Harley got to me, there were a lot of things throughout his life, that would trigger things like when we moved from Rhode Island back to California. And then we were living in the house with my parents and their dog. And he regressed a little bit again. So you just have to be aware and have the desire to, to help them through that knowing that they have been through trauma, and try to create as little extra trauma as you can.
Thank you. So Harley, he he had diabetes. And one of the questions I wanted to ask you that we didn't get into before was, you know, what can a child with diabetes or other health challenges and adoption, learn from Harley and his story, which you share through Harley,
Harley teaches? I think dogs in general, and Harley and his story tells us about what unconditional love and learning what unconditional love means. It doesn't matter your health issues, it doesn't matter. You know what background you've come through. He meets other animals. He meets a cat with asthma. He meets a dog with three legs. He meets a dog who's deaf and blind, in his journey to learning what unconditional love is. So he he tells his story about being rescued and about not being sure if he would get to stay in this home. And now that you know a little bit of his background, you know that even that even though he wasn't speaking speaking and the book speaks for him. But he really did have those issues about being afraid that he'd be given up again, and you could see it in his behavior. And then, in 2010, just before I got married, I had called our vet and said, you know, he's, he's peeing more often, he's drinking more water, and he's having potty accidents. He's peeing in the house. And he's been potty trained since the day that he moved in with me. So, you know, in a human, I'm looking for diabetes, what is that in a dog? The vet said, bring him in, because that's probably diabetes. And sure enough, his blood sugar was over 400. And dogs are supposed to be around the same as us. So around 120 to 130 is where their blood sugar is. You tend to, you tend to run a dog a little bit - and remember, I'm not a vet, anybody listening, just remember, I'm not a vet. Don't make medical advice for me. But you tend to run a dog a little bit higher because it's harder to tell when they're low. So if they go hypoglycemic, it's very difficult to tell. And so you tend to run them around the 130s is kind of where your your goal for them is. At least it was for Harley. And he was over 400 when he was diagnosed
Wow. It's very very interesting. And of course we know diet is important for all of us a person a dog an animal. I know you share a lot of really important healthy foods and that to to give to your pet.
Well, it's interesting, I learned a lot. Specifically after he got diagnosed with diabetes. This is another thing I try to not do to myself and I'm sure you talk to your listeners about this too. It's the coulda, shoulda woulda works right. I should have done this. So he was diagnosed a couple of years before he was diabetic. I was told he was overweight. And the vet at the time, gave us a prescription dog food. And I, you know, I just did what I was told at the time. So fast forward to him being diagnosed with diabetes. I was like, there's got to be more I can do. I know, for humans, I do so much, you know. I exercised him more when he was diagnosed, being overweight. I did all of those things, but I didn't really delve into the food. And so when he got diagnosed with diabetes, I started really looking at pet food. And one of the first things that I noticed was the prescription dog food we were given for diabetes, the initial ingredient was ground beets, which is sugar. And we were having a really hard time controlling his blood sugars. I came into the vet's office again, and I said, Okay, look, you know, there's, there's, I could talk about multiple things, but my biggest concern is this. And they called the pet food company, the prescription pet food company, and the pet food company response was tell your client to stop picking apart our dog food. And the vet, I'll never forget it because they looked at me and I went, don't worry, Denise, it's okay. It's all right. You go figure out what you're gonna feed him and then come back and let us know. I understand how awful that response was. So it's like, they've got byproducts. They've got all this other stuff in here. My biggest thing is that it's a diabetic food, but I could pick apart so many other things, too. And that was like, yes, yes. It's okay. It's alright. You'll figure out what you're gonna feed him. So I did. I ended up going to Halo. I did a book. Again, we're going to go to books again. I'm trying to see if I can see it on my bookshelf. I did another book delving into dog food. I'm not going to find it right now.
We can put the link up later too.
Okay, I can always send you a link to it. Yes. And it really did it. It had me. I got out a notebook. I started a notebook for him. And I started learning about pet food and started writing things down and figuring out what things I was looking for, what things I wasn't looking for. And so then I ended up feeding him Halo and for raw pet feeders, that still kibble, more power to the person that can actually make their dog food because you have a lot more control over it. While at the same time, you have to be very, very careful that you make sure they get everything they need in what you're making for them. So I have friends that do RAW feeding. Again, hands down. If you can do that, that number one, it saves money. That's a life hack for for pet friendly for owning animals. I've never had that kind of time. So I just researched down to find the right kibble, at least for us. That made a huge difference. And then another thing that made a really big difference was we had continued to increase his insulin. And over and over again, we were increasing his insulin. And here's this little 12 pound dog and we'd gotten up to six units twice a day. I was just like, this just seems too much. It just doesn't make any sense. And so the vet's office did what we call a glucose curve. And I ended up asking if I could do them at home, I figured out how to do his blood sugar's myself. Another cost hack for people with pets with special needs is to ask for all the things you can do at home. So I was able to do blood sugars. You know, I'm a nurse, so I had to learn how to do it on an animal. Sometimes you can do it on their ears, sometimes you can do it on their paw. Harley needed it on the inside of his lip. So I'm not going to tell you that wasn't traumatic.
I know in the book, he didn't like it, but he knew it was going to help him. He felt better after. Yes, yes.
He didn't like the those pokes. He did come running for his insulin shots. He knew the insulin made him feel better. But I don't blame him. The Poke under his lip is totally different than getting a little stab in the like, scruff of your neck. Got it? Got it. Um,
I'm looking at him now. I'm a good dog. I come right away. When they call me for my shots afterwards. I always feel better.
Yep. And like I said, you if he really didn't like those insulin shots, you know, animals, there's no way he would have come running. I mean, they were timed at 7am and 7pm. So he knew when he was going to get those shots. It's it's one of those funny things you know, when you have a job where you get up at four every morning and then you have the weekend. I don't know if you've experienced this with your previous animals, but they tend to still get up at the same time that you are getting up during the week. They do not let you sleep in because they're on a clock. He knew what he was coming running for. So I know he knew those shots made him feel better. But we'd gotten up on this insulin and he was still spiking. And I told the vet, this isn't making sense to me. And so I did the glucose curve at home. And what that is, is you take a glucose level fasting first thing in the morning before any meds or any food. And then two hours later you do another glucose level and two hours later, you do another one and you do it, you do that for every two hours for 12 hours. And if you're looking at the cost of a vet at the time, and we're talking 2010, that was about $20.50 per poke. So you can imagine how much money you can save if you can figure out how to do that at home. And there are videos online, I had talked about doing my own video for it at the time, and I never got around to it. And now I don't have a diabetic dog. So teaching somebody how to do a stick on a dog that doesn't need a stick is not very nice to the dog who doesn't need the stick. And there are plenty of videos out there about how to do it. So it's wonderful. There's some really, really good videos. There's some vets and stuff on YouTube that have shown how to do blood sugar levels. But what we learned through that glucose curve was that he was having something called a Somogyi Syndrome. And what that is, it is when you give him the insulin and his blood sugar drops so low that his body then holds on to all of the sugars and spikes a sugar, because it's trying to make up for having been too low. So instead of being this nice kind of even basal level curve, so when you think about graphs and curves, you kind of want it to be really steady, the blood sugar level should be really steady. That's for humans and pets. Instead, they're dropping way down and then going way up and spiking and going way down and going way up. And that's the Somogyi Effect. So that was ultimately making it look like he needed more insulin when what he actually needed was less. Well, he ended up on three units twice a day.
I'm glad you pointed out it's similar to humans again. So people who are listening, just that connection and diabetes for a dog, diabetes for a person.
Yeah, and that's another fun kind of side note to the book. I had initially written it because I thought I was just going to hand it to my family and friends. And then I had people start asking if they could read it, or they could have a copy of it. Well, on the back of the book, there's one of my junior editors had read the book and went to her parents later and said, you know, I'm having some symptoms like Harley was. And sure enough, she has. She had juvenile diabetes. She's now in high school. She may be graduating from high school now. I actually don't remember how old she is. At the moment. I think she was eight in the book. So she must be 18/19 now. Since we moved out of California, I haven't got to see her for a while. But anyway, she was my junior editor. So she ended up with diabetes. And then I'll never forget going to my first juvenile diabetes walk with the book. And the kids with diabetes picking up the book. And being like, you mean, a dog can have what I have. Because inclusion. I mean, it kind of takes us back to that inclusionary thing. Kids want to feel like they belong, and they don't want to feel like they're different. And knowing that an animal can have the same thing that they have was just eye opening. It's such an amazing thing. My heart just swells. Because it's such an incredible piece of the story that I hadn't really thought about when I'd initially written it. And then there's the adoption piece of it, that I hadn't thought about that piece until I adopted our kids and watched one of my adopted children reading the book, and I was like, Oh man, it fits into that too. There's adoption because he's rescued.
See that's, I think, why it's so important, and thank you Denise, to share our stories, be vulnerable, you know. People they understand at some level that you know, we all have flaws. We all have things we're great at. We have things that we have challenges. To share what you're passionate about because you never know what opportunities and doors will open or who you talk to. I think you talked about that before a little bit or who you're going to meet or like even on the podcast myself meeting you here and you sharing these powerful messages and your personal journey and story and you know just go do it. And fears. I think it's like back to you know Jen's thing. Just be fearless. Jump into what it is you love to do and just do it your way. That's why on this show I love you know create and live your best life on your terms. It's so important to me that people hear that. Don't be like Suzy Anne down the road. Because you're not Suzy Anne. Maybe you like some of her qualities and you know or Joe or whoever it is. Honor yourself. And what brings you joy and peace. And you know, making a difference in the world doesn't have to be like you're Oprah or someone - who I met Oprah many years ago. I have a picture with her.
Oh, that's so amazing.
Yeah. On her, which she was on Chicago am show. And yeah, we still have the t shirt from her, signed.
I love it. Yeah, I would not get rid of that either.
No. It's kind of funny. Because when I had my own TV show, I used to have that for marketing. And I say, oh, Oprah was a guest on my show. And some people didn't get it. They go really? I go, No, you see the picture? No, no, no, no, but But no, it's I think, like all the people who you've reached, and like you said, you see the children and then the parents and just that impact, that snowball effect that we can all make a difference, just like one step at a time, one choice at a time, one decision at a time. So I love that. Love it. Love it.
And somebody needs you. Somebody needs what you have to give.
Yes, I truly believe that. And, you know, I know there's a whole school, if you keep it to yourself, that's selfish. I don't want to come from that standpoint. You might be scared, it might be scary. Just one step. Maybe it's going to an event like this, and just speaking to one person. You just don't know. But you know, sitting at home, and not doing anything; that won't allow you to have that next step happen. It's making the decision and then taking action, but taking inspired action that comes from a different place in us. Animals can help people with post traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, you know, the health and well being and we're going through COVID-19. Would you say for people like, good idea, go get an animal or go to a shelter and walk a dog, if you can't afford a dog or go do something with an animal because, you know, this new norm were living in? What What would be your ideas around that?
I think connection is so important there. That can come from multiple different places. Right. And I think some people that have said they're an introvert. Now, a year and a half, two years into COVID, they're like, maybe I'm, you know, now I need that connection. It's where at first it was like, wait, I get to live in my world and not have to be out there at about and ironically, I'm, technically I am an introvert, because that's how I recharge. Which might be surprising to a lot of people who have known me before. But that was an interesting thing to find out about myself. But connection is back to connection is just so important. How ever, you get that and I can tell you that when I am stressed, seeing Sierra's tail wag, petting her, it's that - see my kids learned five finger breathing, right, where you breathe in, breathe out as you go up and down your fingers. And so we now use that at home,
Do touch, do touch every finger?
You actually touch them. Yeah, you touch your finger, start at your thumb with your index finger on the other side. Take a deep breath in as you run up your thumb and then a deep breath down as you go down and then do the same as you go up each of your fingers.
So yeah, it's an amazing tool for kids to learn how to deep breathe and just do that. Kids, well Hello, I use it all the time. In fact, I had a kid the other day say What's mommy doing? And the other child goes? She's deep breathing. She's doing the five finger breathing. Can't you see it?
I'm doing it right now.
Yeah, it's an amazing tool. And we actually learned it from the school counselor where my kids are at school. But you know, petting Sierra, I can feel my heart rate decrease. I can feel myself my body relaxing. I can feel my mind relaxing. And that's been shown through research that blood pressures drop. There's exercise, you know, exercise increases endorphins. You get a pet, you need to walk the pet, you get more exercise. There's so many health benefits that they bring to us honestly. I would like to make Sierra a post traumatic stress dog. I keep saying that. And I mean, she keeps getting older and older and older. And every year I say that I think oh my goodness, like, I need to do that this year. Because we need to do some training but unlike our other dog who are all food mongrels. And so it was easy to train with treats. She's not into treats, so I have to figure out a different way to - I think it's going to be private lessons. That's what that's gonna end up being. And there's some videos actually on YouTube because Harley - I helped start the first pet therapy program at the hospital in central California.
So we were able to help be part of that. And he was the first pet therapy dog. So that video is on YouTube as well. I think it was called caring paws.
I'd like to put that link up. You have done a lot Denice.
It's that constant wanting to learn and learning.
Yes I get it. I'm kind of going with Christmas that I'm slowing down a little bit to take time to, to just I always smell the roses walk in nature and appreciation and gratitude. My family bought me when I turned 60 a guitar. And it's been sitting there in the corner now for a little while. And I was just a beginner anyway. And I thought I want to take that out in Christmas and just learn that right?
And good for you.
Yeah, and I want to learn how to knit like really learn how to knit and make shortcake. So there's always that learning, which you're saying, which is a lot of fun.
but each one of those things is also things that can bring the peace, like I am not a knitter, but I hear from people who knit that that's a very, because of the repetitive nature of it, that that's a real relaxing thing to do.
It is. So what's the next part of the of your sacred journey with your family? And we heard a little bit about your work, what you're doing, what do you see happening for yourself unfolding in the next let's say, well, even the next year or two.
So I will be in February, I will have some kind of certification in genomics. I'm not sure exactly what that certification says on it. I'll be bringing that to my patients. So from a work standpoint, that's what's happening with that. Continue to try to grow as a mom being a mom of four litre little litters - that sounds like it feels like a litter sometimes. If you didn't listen to the previous podcast we adopted for siblings.
Yes, I want people to go back and listen to your first one too. If they just come into the second, go back too because Denise was on episode 40. And she's back here now. Because not only her beautiful humor and her heart, but what she's sharing with you today. So go back to the other one, too.
Thank you, thank you. But yes, we adopted four children, and I became instant mom. So in my mid 40s. I believe that with parenting, there's probably everybody who's ever been a parent, whether you have birth children or adopted children, there are struggles. And I just continuously want to try to do better and be better as a mom for my kids. I'm trying not to put that guilt on myself either, right, which is really such a huge thing. And so this class, Happy Kids, Not Perfect Kids, has just given me some really great actionable items. And so I see that, that journey with my kids and then continuing to be outdoors. And the more as COVID kind of allows us to do it. We're being hikers and outside. And so we just had kind of started this spring to do that around this area. So for Thanksgiving, we're actually taking our RV down to an RV Park in South Padre so we can explore South Padre. While we're here in Texas, so exploring with my family/ We're adventuresome - kind of exploring is in our nature. And so that's what I see us doing in the next year.
Oh, that sounds wonderful. You know, I know for exploring. For one thing, you're not far from water in Nova Scotia anywhere. And we found it very interesting that they said here that swimming lessons are free for everyone because there's so much water around and I thought that's interesting. Like, I've never heard that kind of thing before.
Try to prevent drowning. I bet they have less drownings than the average place. If it's free.
That's probably right. I didn't look into it.
I think that statistics would be really fascinating.
And I know that for like you planning to go for Thanksgiving and happy Thanksgiving. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you. Well, I guess Canada has a little different than us but
We've had it already. But my brother is down there in Wisconsin, so you know, I know it's coming up. And like you I have a lot of - because you're a friend now and a person in my circle. And so I know a lot of people in the states that are very close to me. I was thinking with Cliff the other day, I saw a place called Chester and I had no idea where it was from where we live. And Cliff said why don't we go do that Friday. Let's drive there. Let's do that. And then I mentioned Peggy's Cove which is big up here. Why don't we go do that? I'm like what anything I'm gonna mention you're gonna say let's go do. Yeah, it's an adventure. Let's get in the car and go. And I thought why not? You know if it's only.
Oh, yeah, well, that's me to you. Salem, Oregon, Plymouth Rock. We had that conversation on the previous podcast, I think too. I would just pop Harley in the car and we would go. So
See that's wonderful. Just like Nike, right? Just do it. Don't think about it. Just go do it. And pack some really healthy food.
Yeah, that was Mother's Day, this last year. We had no plans. Denton had asked me what I wanted to do for Mother's Day, and honestly, I had thought I just want to sleep. Can I sleep in? Is that okay? You take care of kids and dogs. And can I sleep? Which by the way, my wonderful husband did that for me on both Thursday and Friday of last week, he drove the kids to school and let me sleep in, which was spectacular. Yes. But I woke up Mother's Day morning, and I was like, I want to go hiking. We haven't really been hiking around here. So we went online that morning and picked out a state park here in Texas, and went hiking. So I mean, that seemed like when we hiked the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, because that's where we come from. Well Denton's from Oregon. I'm from California. He's, very sure to say that he's from Oregon and Denise is from California. But you know, so we're used to hiking big, big mountains. But what we've been really pleasantly surprised with here in the hill country in Texas is that there are places to go hiking. So we went to what was called Lost Maples Wilderness and hiked on Mother's Day. And that was just a woke up that morning, he was making Mother's Day breakfast, and said, Let's go for a hike. And so we did it.
That's beautiful, being spontaneous. And with the magic of life. Thank you, Denise. Now I know you have a gift from your previous episode 40. Go listen to it if you haven't heard it, and that you have a gift you'd like to give today. And again, how you can connect with Denise, you know, and help her in any way with whaat she's doing, get the word out. And the gift that you'd like to give today. we'll list that below this episode, along with all the links that we talked about during this conversation we had today. So what would you like to give them today?
Well, today I would like to share since we did a little more talking about hacks for helping to save money with pets with special needs. I'm going to make you a little list of life hacks to save money with pets with special needs.
Thank you. That's a really important one because yeah, I know people who've had animals and they've been very sick and it was very, very expensive to look after the animal but they did because they love their animal and they just did that. So that's beautiful. Denise thank you for being back and sharing from your heart and soul your wisdom on life lessons for friends. Part Two. Namaste
Namaste. Thank you Moira, my new friend.
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