DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing to you in response to your request for communications from the grave.
My 16 1/2-year-old Aussie, Megan Rose, died Sept. 5, 2010. I took her death very hard.
When I got her ashes, I put them on my bureau. I have a wall vase with four blue roses that hangs next to the bureau. A few days later, I found a rose on the floor. I thought it was strange because no roses had ever fallen out before, and I had never touched them. I put it back in the vase.
The same thing happened the next day. And on the third day it happened again, only this time when I found the rose I said, "Megan Rose, is that you?" I put the rose back in the vase, left the room and came back a few minutes later only to find the rose on the floor again. I thought to myself, What a perfect symbol -- her name is Megan Rose, and here is a rose. Nothing happened again for six months.
On her birthday in March 2011, when I got up in the morning, I went to the bureau, picked up her ashes and said, "I wish you were here for your 17th birthday" and gave the box of ashes a kiss. As I was putting the ashes back on the bureau, lying next to where her ashes had been was a blue rose. -- J.H., Seymour, Conn.
DEAR DR. FOX: Thanks for writing about "ghost" animals in your column. It was a comforting and nonjudgmental response to your reader. I know many of us who have lost pets will find comfort in your words.
When we moved into our house 20 years ago, my husband and I felt the familiar landing of a cat at the end of our bed and the slow movement of paws up to our pillows. No cat was there. We called it "ghost kitty."
We would reach out to pet the cat or talk to it, but we just touched air. Our live cats (we had several) would not stay or sleep in our bedroom, so it wasn't a case of mistaken identity. This routine continued for many years until we adopted three homeless cats who took up residence in our bedroom (by choice) and never went downstairs until many years later. We hope "ghost kitty" has gone on, but, from time to time, we still wonder about the cat. Your column has given us an insight into this phenomenon. -- L.R.R., Virginia Beach, Va.
DEAR J.H. and L.R.R.: Many readers will appreciate your letters. Several communications from our beloved departed pets are posted on my website, DrFoxVet.com; these stories support my belief that such phenomena are not mere coincidences or products of the imagination.
It is my contention that the more mindful we are of the spiritual dimension of existence and the great mystery of conscious life, the more we may begin to improve as a species in our regard for and treatment of all creatures great and small.
DEAR DR. FOX: When my husband and I had our first dog, a beagle/boxer mix, we were amused and annoyed that when we let her out, she would always head for a patch of garlic that my husband planted for fun. That was her favorite resting spot. We couldn't figure out why she picked such a smelly place, but it finally dawned on us -- no fleas!
We have had several dogs through the years and always included garlic (fresh or powdered) and brewer's yeast in their food, and we have never had a sign of fleas or ticks.
Dumb dogs? I don't think so. -- R.K., St. Louis
DEAR R.K.: Your first dog certainly demonstrated a degree of "wild wisdom" in her choice of lying on a patch of garlic growing on your property.
British biologist Dr. Cindy Engel compiles many fascinating accounts of animal species self-medicating with various herbs and treating wounds and even broken bones in her book, "Wild Health: Lessons in Natural Wellness From the Animal Kingdom" (Houghton-Mifflin).
Freshly chopped garlic and its potent oil extract have many medical benefits. However, it is an irritant to the stomach lining, so it is best taken with food. It can act as a natural antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. It can rid the body of intestinal worms. On the skin, garlic can help heal burns and kill ringworm. It may help diabetics lower their daily insulin dose. Garlic can be helpful with many other conditions, including toothache, heart problems, high cholesterol levels and allergies. It is a potent blood thinner, helping prevent coagulation and clot formation. It may also help lower blood pressure.
These are just a few of the medical benefits of this remarkable herb. It can cause a form of anemia in cats, but is safe for most dogs. You can give one large clove per 30 pounds of body weight with food. Coupled with 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight of brewer's yeast, it works well to keep fleas and other biting insects away from dogs and people alike.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)