A Story Ten Years in the Making
Ten years ago, we began an experiment with our 19 Borzoi, also called Russian Wolfhounds, at Highmeadow Farm in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.
Although we had owned Borzoi since 1981, by the year 2012, we owned multiple Borzoi from a particular bloodline, showing them extensively, and finally, in 2001, we became breeders and preservationists of this noble breed that we love so much.
However, the very sad story is that the bloodline that we owned and bred exclusively proved to have a genetic predisposition, like some other breeds and dogs in general, for cancer. It was not only the dogs that we owned, but many others in this same bloodline.
With few exceptions, our beloved dogs died of cancer, as early as age 7.
Our very finest dogs were dying of cancer.
We had almost no old dogs.
And it was heartbreaking, each and every time.
Cancer became an ugly, common, household word at Highmeadow Farm.
What could we do about it?
We almost gave up.
Almost unbelievably, we stumbled upon the teachings of Dr. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian veterinarian who teaches other veterinarians and dog owners around the world how to safely feed their dogs a fresh, whole foods, raw diet. He claimed that dogs fed a fresh, whole foods diet rarely suffer cancer, bloat, diabetes, or many other diseases and illnesses.
He exposed all the myths about feeding a fresh, whole foods diet.
Could this be true? Could we actually eliminate the genetic predisposition for cancer by altering our dogs’ environment by changing their diet?
Dr. Billinghurst exposes what really goes into the so-called “premium” processed dog food, how harmful the ingredients are, the damage they cause, and that changing to high quality fresh, whole foods diet can, and does have a major impact on the health of dogs.
He has decades of clinical evidence to prove it.
He has written many books on the subject and we devoured all of them. We became avid students of fresh feeding.
What really got our attention was learning that changing our dogs’ diet and having no cancer diagnoses over 4 generations actually eliminates the predisposition for cancer in a particular bloodline.
We became hopeful and optimistic, and wanted desperately to give it a try with our own dogs.
But, what would our beloved local vet say about it?
At first, he was not supportive. He was concerned primarily with the risk of bacteria, until, one day, in his veterinary journals, he read an article and learned the truth about fresh, whole foods diets, their profound health benefits, and that his concerns were unwarranted. He gave us the article to read for ourselves, and ultimately supported our decision to change the way we feed our dogs.
So, our experiment began, 10 years ago.
For the past ten years, we have fed nothing to our dogs but Dr. Billinghurst’s formula, a precise combination of fresh meats, organ meat, vegetables, fruits, eggs, yogurt, and a prescribed amount of additives such as ground flaxseed, kelp and alfalfa powder.
Our recipes rotate meats and vegetables and fruits, as prescribed, to insure a balance of nutrients.
We followed his recommendation to supplement with fresh cod liver oil.
We have raised every litter over the past ten years on nothing but our fresh, whole foods diet.
We eliminated all mass-produced commercially-processed food. All of it.
We held our breath.
We hoped and prayed.
Now, 10 years later for the first time in 40 years, we own many old, healthy dogs, as old as 14 plus, and have not had ONE incidence of cancer in the ten years we’ve been feeding our fresh, whole foods diet, NOT ONE.
Our vet is happy, albeit surprised.
We have also never had a bloat, diabetes, pancreatitis, skin problems, allergies, digestive issues, gum disease, significant tartar buildup, or kidney disease.
We rarely see health problems in any of our dogs.
We love our vet, and really miss seeing him.
Have we lost very old dogs to things like stroke and progressive, debilitating arthritis? Yes. And we still grieve. But they did not suffer the ravages of cancer.
Have we changed our bloodline’s predisposition for cancer going forward?
We think that is a great possibility – we have youngsters representing the 4th generation and are very hopeful.
Is it a lot of work and will we continue? Yes, without question. We have won the battle!
Our experiment has been a grand success beyond our wildest dreams. Most importantly, we have achieved peace of mind.
Could this experiment help other dogs? YES!
Ten years ago, we also began sharing the very same fresh, whole foods recipes with our neighbors for their beloved dogs. We created Napa Fresh Food for Dogs.
And now, about 150 local dog-loving families and their dogs are experiencing the abundant, vibrant health that Dr. Billinghurst promises by feeding a fresh, whole foods diet. They have become part of our ten-year story.
The best part, they have achieved peace of mind, right along with us.
Indeed, miracles abound at Highmeadow Farm.