After losing our 19-year-and-11 month-old cat, my partner/husband-to-be and I started fostering shelter animals, as well as pet sitting for friends. Giving unconditional but not completely committal love seems to be helping us cope with the void of loss, the ache of grief.
We are currently hosting two kittens from WLA Shelter, as well as our friend’s dog Juelz. (Learn more about Juelz)
The kittens are brothers from the same litter, and they have been staying with us for the past 5 weeks since they were 3 weeks of age. They are so wonderful and we love having them around so much! Any forms of baby, human, cat, dog, others, are just the most fun-loving-energetic-joyful little creatures that melt everyone’s heart.
On my days off, there was a serious heat wave in Los Angeles. Everyone in our house was miserable, and even one of the kittens was panting while playing! (Note: Cats should never breath with their mouth open. If a cat does that consistently, that would be a medical emergency.) With less than 48 hours, two 8 week-old wild kittens, one easily overwhelmed dog, us two “heat-induced lazy” people, the trip must be easy and relaxing. That means, away from LA but not too far, close to the nature but not too remote, and modern/convenient but not too crowded.
I love California in general, and Central California is definitely special. It’s beautiful, laid back, great food, tasty wine; the atmosphere is amazingly friendly and people are ridiculously nice. Compared to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, Lompoc is not as well visited but it still certainly has all the getaway elements that we were looking for. We brought the kittens along with their large crate and a small carrier, Juelz’ tent which she already had, as well as our own tent. We hung out in town for late afternoon supper and some groceries, and then set up our tents at Jalama Beach. The campground is pet friendly and it’s right next to the beach. It was 95% full when we got there, but because people were all very respectful of each other’s space and privacy, it didn’t feel packed. Many people brought their pets as well, and Juelz even made a new bunny friend named Banana!
To my surprise, the trip was very stress free. Even though we consciously chose a mellow and easy place, the unpredictable nature of having this many “random” animals for camping itself seemed intense already. I contribute most of the smoothness to the people we encountered. It appeared that they were all animal lovers. They politely and genuinely wanted to meet Juelz and the kittens, and they were eager to share the stories of their own beloved pets, or the foster experience that they had.
At the end of our trip, not only we human were relaxed, but the kittens and Juelz also seemed happier, more playful, and ate better in spite of the heat.
For more information about Lompoc and Jalama Beach--
Kittens are ready to go home with the human love of their life! Please visit WLA Shelter website to see how you can help—-
The pet friendly restaurant where we had both great food and fun conversations—-
The article is written from Helen’s point of view and does not necessarily reflect the position of Vetcreations.
Billy is a 10 year-old male neutered Labrador Retriever mixed, who has been loved and well taken care of by his wonderful family. However, for the past few months, they have noticed that Billy seems to “slow down” a little bit. It takes him longer to get up from his bed in the morning, he sleeps more, and he doesn’t snuggle on the couch as often. His spirit is still high when taking a walk, but his gait is stiff, and he seems hesitate to play with his friends at the park. Two days ago, Billy started limping noticeably on his back legs and he is not getting better after restriction of activities. Therefore Billy is taken to the vet. After the exam, lab work and the X-ray, they learn that Billy has arthritis of his hip joints, a degenerative disease of the joints from chronic wear and tear. Arthritis is very common in older pets. The veterinarian recommends Billy to lose weight to help relieve some pressure from his joints, and to start taking joint supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin. With how sore Billy is, he is also prescribed with an anti-inflammatory medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, NSAID, similar to Advil in people) to relieve the severe discomfort. Even though the NSAID is an effective medication, there are some potential side effects, and therefore the owners were told to watch Billy closely for any changes of water consumption, appetite, behaviors, and/or tummy discomfort.
Billy’s humans are very dedicated owners. They start the weight management, the medication and the supplement. Billy is definitely a lot better once they started the new regimen! He is running around and acting like his old self again. Five months later, however, Billy seems to not be so excited about eating anymore. He still eats, but becomes picky. The owners are worried and take him for a follow up exam. The bloodwork shows that there is mild liver damage and early indication of underlying kidney diseases. It is not certain if the changes are directly related to the medications, but they were advised to discontinue the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication because it will further complicate the kidney and liver issues.
Being practicing veterinarians, Dr. Chen and I see so many “Billys” everyday. They can be a dog, large and small, or a cat. They are all so well loved, but the road to recovery is less straight forward. They have an inflammatory conditions that causes the constant discomfort. The conventional medication works great and offers an immediate strong pain relief. Sometimes that’s all the pet needs. An immediate relief, and the body takes care of the rest of the recovery with resting, good nutrition and regular exercise. However, more often than not, especially with senior patients like Billy, they need a long term plan that’s gentle and sustainable. A plan that fits that particular patient’s needs, as well as the lifestyle of the family that’s caring for him/her. We love our patients and their humans, and we feel for them. We understand how overwhelming and how lonely it gets when caring for a sick patient, and we are eager to help! With the knowledge and the experience we have, Vetcreations creates products that serve as powerful tools to complete the individual and personalized care regimens.
For future posts, we will talk more about besides conventional NSAIDs and pain medications, what other supplements and medical treatments can be considered for pain management. Please leave us a message on the comment section, if there are any subjects regarding holistic veterinary medicine that you are interested in learning more about.
---Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA
When I first met Jennifer, I immediately developed a sense of closeness to her. Not only because she is beautiful, personable, passionate, but more importantly, her genuine love and kindness towards dogs are so raw and so tangible. The love and care should be mandatory, considering the fact that she is the founder of “Bullies and Buddies”, a Los Angeles based dog rescue. However, after being in the veterinary industry for a while, I’ve realized that the truth is, not everyone does things out of love towards animals, regardless the titles or status quo. Most of the time, people who truly care and fight to do the right things somehow end up struggling a lot. However, Jen has kept her spirit up with a very positive attitude, because there’s really “no time and no room for negativity.”
Bullies and Buddies
10 years ago, Jen was a successful aesthetician working for herself. She was a dog lover, and she established “Bullies and Buddies” in memory of her beloved Lady, who unfortunately left this world as a young dog. When Jen and Diamond first met, Diamond was only 8 weeks old. She was hopelessly adorable, and helplessly abandoned in one of the “kill shelters” in LA. Despite the sad situation, Diamond was spunky, and simply loved life. Having Diamond around, and seeing how she had thrived and transformed into a happy healthy dog under the nurturing home environment, Jen couldn’t ignore the strong force that push her to further dedicate everything she had gotten for the “other Diamonds” who hadn’t found a loving home yet. She had worked so hard for “Bullies and Buddies” that she eventually quitted her day job and focused on the rescue work.
To many of us, our animals don’t just offer “companionship.” They are part of our lives, and more often than not, they give mundane daily routine meanings. To Jen, Diamond has given her so much courage and reasons to get out of the bed in the mornings, especially when things are rough. They went through the beginning period of “Bullies and Buddies” together, from when Jen stood outside of a café every Saturday by herself advocating for suffering dogs, till now that “Bullies and Buddies” has saved hundreds of dogs; from Jen going through difficult times of her life, till now she knows where she stands, Diamond has always been there for her, full heartedly.
Therefore, when Diamond was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, Jen was almost defeated. “ I couldn’t breath,”Jen said, “it felt so surreal. We were just hiking and Diamond was totally fine…. Even now, I still hope it’s just a bad dream… I mean how could this be?! I spent so much time and so much effort to save dogs, and my own dog ends up having this awful cancer….”
At the point of our meet up, Diamond had had amputation surgery and went through the first round of chemotherapy. She was bouncy, loving, energetic, as if walking and sometimes, running on three legs was not a big deal, and nothing had happened. “She is definitely a tough girl.” Jen looks at Diamond full of love and admiration. The proud look mixing with heart sore, the unique look that I often see on pet owners who deeply feel for their fur babies who are fighting severe conditions. “But I know, I can’t be indulging in sadness.”Jen took a breath and said, “Because Diamond is so sensitive to how I feel, and I don’t want her to be sad.”
Quality of Life
Jennifer has intentionally cut down her hours at work since Diamond had the surgery. “I want to focus on her. She is my priority.”Diamond recovered very well from her surgery and the first round of chemotherapy. “At first I thought I wouldn’t do much, because I don’t want her to suffer and to linger just for me.”Indeed, even though with many cutting edge treatments and therapies that the modern veterinary medicine offers, many of us are hesitant when it comes to extensive treatments. Finance may be one thing, but more importantly, we don’t want our beloved pets to be miserable and dragging through the last part of their life journey just because the medicine can prolong their lives. As a result, it is crucial to listen, to respect, and to pay attention to what the individual pet can handle. Each of them is so unique. With Diamond, Jen really listened, “She bounced right back the day after the surgery! That really encouraged me to try more and give everyone a chance.”Diamond and Jen went to see a veterinary oncologist to learn about all their treatment options, and they decided to start with the first round of chemotherapy. “Diamond never stops impressing me. She did so well during and after the sessions! She is happy, eating, hopping around, energetic, totally acting like her normal self…. Even though we both know that the fight and effort don’t stop here, we are taking it one day at a time and trying to keep a positive attitude. “
Bullies and Buddies:
To learn more about osteosarcoma:
Written by Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA
@Vetcreations, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
It is impossible to talk about Juelz’ story without mentioning Shaka, who sadly had left this world at the end of 2016.
Shaka was the definition of a “perfect dog.” He was loyal, smart, gentle, calm, happy, nurturing, sweet, docile, loving, and selfless. He put others’ as his priority instead of himself. I always remember that even when the days he wasn’t feeling well, the first thing he tried to do when he saw me, was to stand up and greet me with the sweetest tail wagging and to come close to me, so I can pat him and hug him. It was impossible to not love Shaka. He was not only perfect, but also “ therapeutic.” He had even helped the owner’s little cousin, who used to be scared of dogs, to get over his fear. The boy eventually adopted a pitbull because Shaka had shown him that dogs and pitbulls are actually very amazing!
It’s All Very Overwhelming
Juelz came from an abusively neglecting situation. She spent her first few months in life being left outside in the backyard without much human nor animal interaction other than her brother from the same litter. When she was first rescued by Bullies and Buddies, she was very skittish and was very disconnected from this world. Everything was a trigger to overwhelm her. She jumped when there was a car driving by, she bolted when someone closed the door, she froze and ducked when being approached, she trembled and urinated when in a new environment. She was afraid of people, intimidated by other dogs. The world was so big and scary that she just didn’t know what to do with herself, and she was constantly stressing out with anxiety to the point where she would start biting and showing aggression out of fear. She was not happy because she was trapped in her own mind.
And then, Juelz met Shaka.
Shaka had always been very good with other dogs. He was especially gentle and patient with Juelz. He seemed to know that Juelz had already gone through a lot at a young age, and there was this sweet little girl hiding behind the constantly overwhelmed anxious wild puppy. Shaka earned Juelz’ trust within a short amount of time, and thus Shaka’s human, Mao, kindly took Juelz in because he believed that Juelz would become a happier and a calmer dog by learning from Shaka.
And Juelz did! She did amazingly well by living with Shaka and Mao. She started to trust people, started to socialize better with other dogs, started to open up to new experience and the world, gradually and steadily. All because of Shaka’s loving patience and Mao’s dedicated care.
Love is the best language that translates and transforms. Because of Shaka’s love, Juelz has overcome her fear and started to open up, because of the love towards Shaka, Mao saw what Shaka had seen in Juelz, and continues working on her anxiety, so the sensitive but loving Juelz can understand the world better and face life.
Being young and athletic, Juelz always seems to have endless energy. Currently as the only dog, she especially needs lots of exercise. However, just like an introverted person, Juelz loves to play with her friends, but she needs slow introduction when it comes to strangers and new dogs. Therefore, Mao takes her for long walks away from the traffic and the crowd, as well as to less known parks where she can enjoy running around and catching balls without worrying about random encounters. The Juelz without distractions and noises is engaged and eager to please, and she can learn a new trick within less than 30 minutes!
Juelz has gone a long way to become who she is now. She is happy and curious about the world, thanks to Shaka, Mao, and many others that had/have believed in her and worked with her! It is never easy to heal a soul when it’s broken and hurting. However, giving it a chance with love and understanding, amazing and powerful results will follow.
Written by Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA
Happy February! Hope everyone has a good start with a wonderful and energizing, fresh January of this newly arrived 2018. Being good Taiwanese Americans who are well immersed in traditional Chinese culture, Helen and Lily want to remind you that the Chinese New Year is around the corner, and this coming “New Year” will be the year of the dog! A second chance to make the new year resolutions and actually putting them into practice if the first ones didn’t work out so well just yet (Just kidding).
If the “first new year” was the one for ourselves, then maybe right now, it’s a good time to pause, and direct our intentions to focus on providing a better care that will ensure the quality of life of our beloved furry friends in this coming new year of the dog. Does Fluffy need to lose some weight from indulging too much during the holidays? It’s a great time to re-consider Fluffy’s nutrition and exercise regimen. Has Norman been suffering from arthritic pain and the on-and-off NSAIDs and pain medications that just don’t do the tricks anymore? It would be a great timing now to seek out for alternative solutions with a certified integrative veterinarian! Did you adopt a puppy or a kitten over the holidays but the little one just hasn’t quite settled yet, and this year started out being a constant struggle for you? Now it would be a crucial timing to correct that for both you and the new family member! Whatever it is that you want to achieve together with your best and most trust worthy furry companions, please don’t miss the opportunity to set the intentions now! Wish this year will be abundant, joyful, and full of positive changes for all of us!
The core of Vetcreations has always been about creating wellness and finding happiness, and we want to apply that to not only the beloved pets, but also the caretakers. We are well aware that everything begins with ourselves, and our humanity. We have to stand strong first in order to carry the big rule of literally being the whole world for our pets.
As a means to exercise both our physical and mental muscles, we went to Ojai, CA for a yoga retreat a few weeks ago. How interesting that everything is connected. Even though the trip was solely for ourselves as people, we were encouraged to channel ourselves into our inner animal spirits-- to live in the moment, and to live life to the fullest. Let go of the noise from worry, fear, insecurity, and just focus on being. Have you seen a dog playing at the beach, chasing the waves, barking from being so excited and happy that s/he just has to make some noise? Do you think that dog is worrying about getting wet, being dirty, and upset that the salty air is irritating his lungs? No! He is focusing on the fun of just being and playing! He seizes the moment! Have you seen your cat lounging in the sun, yarning, enjoying, sleeping, and purring? Do you think this very moment, the cat is meticulously calculating and scheming how to be the most resourceful cat in the neighborhood? Do you think the cat is sunbathing and meanwhile mourning the loss of opportunity to eat more breakfast before the food was taken away? No!
Then why do we?
We can learn so much from our furry companions on the daily basis, and yet we overlook the precious opportunities. We can enjoy the life with pets so much more and so much fuller by just focusing on the moments that we share, instead of worrying. Worrying for their longevity, worrying about their health, worrying that we are not good enough pet owners. To help alleviate the fear and worry of a loving pet owner has been one of the strongest motivations to push both Helen and Lily constantly becoming even better veterinarians. We know that only when we empower the caretakers with knowledge and good medicine, will the pets live good quality of lives. With the same principles and goals, we created Vetcreations. We hope that by providing high quality products, Vetcreations will be part of the solution to cease pet lovers’ fear, and thus fully engaging each moment that our pets share with us.
The first Vetcreations workshop was a great success! We had a fun and awesome crowd, spent a wonderful afternoon talking about food, making food, and of course, eating food!
With the modern busy lifestyles, the therapeutic power of both eating nutritious food and taking the time to actually prepare a meal is often overlooked. Through taking the time to have a discussion on food with a different cultural perspective, taking the time to actually taste foods and experience their various “thermal natures,” taking the time to cook a fresh and balanced meal for our pets, we empowered and reminded ourselves that when it comes to feeding our pets, we have so many more options than just relying on a bag or a can of commercially prepared pet food.
Thank you to our loving and supportive participants, especially those who had traveled far for their fur babies! We are always so inspired and motivated by our pet lover community!
Our paths crossed in 2014 while working shifts together at a West Hollywood small animal hospital. We quickly bonded with each other over our similar interests and hobbies. We were very excited to learn that we both shared similar philosophies on veterinary medicine. We practice Integrative Medicine - combining modern Western Medicine with Traditional Chinese Medicine. We know that everything exists in a balance and it is this balance that brings wellness. We share the same passion about bringing wellness to pets and people as well - and it was with this passion that we found our company Vetcreations. This is our way of reaching out to the pet community to find ways to create wellness and find happiness in their lives.
When we began this journey, we spent a lot of time discussing our dreams and hopes for veterinary medicine. We both believe that lifestyle and food are the fundamental blocks to healthy lives. We both love food and have spent a lot of our time talking with each other over delicious meals. In fact, we conceived the idea of colostrum and turmeric supplements while sharing a traditional broth dish in a busy Japanese restaurant. From there, we spent a year crafting the treats - we wanted them to be therapeutic supplements with the best natural ingredients possible. We tried different recipes and experimented with the coatings for the colostrum treats - ensuring that the colostrum is never cooked and remains bioavailable to the body - while insisting not adding any sugars or preservatives. (Therefore please remember to refrigerate the Vetcreations treats! They are perishable!) We spent countless hours, baked batches and batches of the treats, and all in the meanwhile shared deep conversations, good laughs, and generally good times together. And now, in 2017, we officially launched our supplemental treats. We are so proud of them as they represent our labor of love, and also are tiny packages of what we believe in - that we are conscientious about our choices in treating our pets - even as simple as giving out a treat, it can contain the best thing for their health. And we know pets love them! Even the pickiest dogs we have offered the treats to just devoured them.
We are grateful for everyone who is a part of this community and sharing our journey. We will always be open to conversations about how we can help you and your pets.