DEAR DR. FOX: Now more than ever, our children are overwhelmed with the challenges of an often unkind and troubled world. From our politicians down to our social media interactions, people are bickering like never before. As we move toward an increasingly digital world filled with echo chambers and cyberbullying, we seem to be losing our ability to appreciate and respect others who aren’t exactly like us.
Children often feel like they have little agency in their lives, and animals present an opportunity for them to exercise power and control over another vulnerable being. Children who abuse animals may be acting out lessons learned at home by responding to their frustrations with violence -- a reaction that tends to amplify over time. Violence begets violence, and it’s troublesome when directed toward animals and humans alike.
In almost every interaction, animals are at our mercy, and teaching kids the importance of handling that power with gentle kindness cannot be overestimated.
I created The Good Kid Project to reinforce in children a sense of tolerance, humility and compassion for others. Our first product is a story series called “We’re All Animals,” which highlights the similarities we share with other animals. This series (intended for ages 4-12) can help any parent or educator teach kids kindness and compassion that will last a lifetime. The complete box set includes 30 illustrated short stories, as well as discussion questions, a guidebook for parents and teachers, and more.
You can learn more or purchase a copy by visiting goodkidproject.com/box. -- Nick Coughlin, St. Paul, Minnesota
DEAR N.C.: I am sure that many parents and teachers will appreciate your efforts to broaden the education and sensitivities of children in these challenging times. It is evident that our humanity is as endangered as so many species -- and, indeed, our Mother Earth.
Crimes against nature, such as harming indigenous plant and animal species and their ecosystems, are also crimes against humanity because we and all life are interconnected and interdependent.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a Jack Russell terrier with a very sensitive stomach and skin, whom I have weaned off of more kibbles than I can count. She chews her feet, and the vet says she has very “yeasty” ears. He thinks it is all environmental allergies, but I tend to think it has to do with food, also.
Is there a kibble that you could recommend for these symptoms, or even a good home-cooked diet? I really prefer not to do raw. Grains do not seem to bother her, but I do not give her any corn, wheat or soy. When I have given her grain-free food in the past, it makes her stool loose -- maybe because of the legumes, chickpeas, pea starch, etc. that replace the grains in those recipes? -- M.E., Elizabeth, New Jersey
DEAR M.E.: Many dogs have issues with manufactured dog foods, especially dry kibble. The heat processing destroys many essential nutrients, so manufacturers add various synthetic additives to “balance” these deficiencies. Meanwhile, the original ingredients are often animal and plant byproducts lacking in nutrient value.
For details, see the book that I co-authored with two other veterinarians, “Not Fit for A Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food.” Countless numbers of my readers have used my basic home-prepared dog and cat food recipes, which are posted on my website (and which I am sending you), and have confirmed the health and behavioral benefits of good nutrition for their animal companions.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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 DrFoxOneHealth.com.)