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My question is how holistic rescue groups can better include and cooperate with groups that are not yet holistic in orientation.  When our volunteers talk to prospective adopters, donors, etc., these people usually say at some point that the holistic idea makes good sense.  (I'm talking about people who have a lot of experience as pet
owners, as well as those who have only their own health care experience to judge from).  Sometimes, though, members of other *rescue groups* feel threatened by the holistic approach.  We had one organization request permission to "borrow" our approach to treating cat upper respiratory infections, and I know that is a good sign.

I'd love to know of any instances where groups cooperatively did a study, or reviewed veterinary records together to help evaluate the holistic approach. 

As I see it, the holistic community has fewer bouts of serious illness to treat and talk about, and the conventional rescue world does not notice this quiet -- when they discuss medical care, and someone mentions that their rescue has not seen X disease last so long, or Y condition goes away in a shorter time for holistically-cared-for
animals, it really seems to just be taken as a threat or bragging, not as something seriously needing consideration

Dr Rose DiLeva’s response:

The best way to open people's minds is through education. If you or other members have a story of how various alternative treatments have helped a pet, then tell that story. Chances are someone will know someone else who may have heard another story from someone's friend of a friend of a friend. The point is that's what gets people thinking that there are other ways of dealing with illness. Many of my clients that seek out acupuncture for their pets do so because they get it themselves or know someone who does. You will find "like-minded" people and they will help spread the word. I would not try to "convert" anyone. Just let them know that other options exist. It can be a turn off if you come off too strong.


Of course, directing them to alternative & complementary veterinary sites on the web is helpful. Some of these sites may have newspaper articles telling success stories. Try www.altpetdoc.com or www.altvetmed.com as a start. There are plenty of studies that exist in each of the holistic modalities discussing their successes. That does not mean, however, that it makes the evening news. When I visited Best Friends in March and acupunctured some of the animals, many of the employees did not even realize that acupuncture could be done on animals, especially the rabbits! That bit of information right there can get a conversation going between people that were previously unaware. Perhaps Best Friends can be at the forefront, once again, in the use of holistic veterinary medicine. You'd be surprised how many may follow. Good Luck!


Dr Randy Kidd’s response:

This is a great question, and one worthy of some philosophizing (sp).   I’ve been reading a wonderful book, The Biology of Transcendence, a Blueprint of the Human Spirit by Joseph C. Pearce, so some of his terminology may creep into my answer. 


This is a question that most of the vets I know who have transitioned to holistic practices have had to deal with at one time or another.  What we’re really dealing with here is a tremendous amount of enculturation of most of the real world – a culture that has developed a tremendous amount of doctrine and dogma surrounding its current “religion”, Science.  “Modern” medicine has then been incorporated into this religiosity and for the “true believers” only their doctrine and dogma (medicine as science) is acceptable.


It’s a difficult row to hoe – From the conventional folks:  “If your medicine doesn’t conform to my concept of how science works, it isn’t really medicine.”  And then:  the folks who have transitioned into holistic/alternative medicines – many of these methods require a momentary suspension of disbelief to accept their new way of looking at health and disease – have the added burden of changing an internal belief system that has been preached to them over the course of 12 years of pre-college plus 8-10 years of college.  Pretty tough stuff – and I’ve known several holistic vets who have had nervous breakdowns because of it.  I expect this “dissociation from the customary” happens to everyone who tries to accept a new belief system, perhaps to a lesser degree than with the holistic vets I’ve known. 


What I’m saying is that I don’t think we can ever expect all (or even most) of the folks to accept a new way of thinking too quickly.  Like the old saw about trying to teach a pig to sing – Don’t try it.  It’ll only frustrate you, and probably make the pig mad too. 


Here’s something else I think I’m seeing – seems to me there’ s a whole lot of really mad folks out there – on both sides of the fence, holistic (why won’t they listen to me) and conventional (how dare they think they have a better way).  Anger will get the human spirit nowhere.  (Traditional Chinese Medicine has the seat of anger in the liver and gallbladder, and I recently had my gallbladder removed –think I’ve got a problem with this??)


OK one more input.  I was recently involved with a marketing group that had done extensive surveys defining who uses holistic/alternative methods.  Their numbers fit nicely into a pyramid form.  At the bottom of the pyramid were a significant number of folks who would not use alternative methods. Ever. No matter what.  From the marketing perspective, these folks were a lost cause.  At the middle of the pyramid were folks who might use alternative methods … if they were convenient, if they knew about and understood them, etc.  From the marketing perspective these folks were worth some marketing effort, but not too much, because it takes a lot of effort to “fully convert” them.  At the top of the pyramid were a small number of folks who used the alternative methods extensively – but interestingly almost never exclusively.  Marketing to these folks was easy – like preaching to the choir … but doesn’t the preacher get the advantage of hearing really good music??              


Another interesting part of this survey was that the pyramid did not reflect any other demographic – age, sex, education, salary, geography, etc.  That is, there are folks who use alternative methods from all walks of life, with all kinds of money, and all levels of education.  Thinking about it, my holistic clients reflected perfectly this research. 


A phrase from Pearce’s book, apparently from Jesus: “By their fruits you shall know them.”  And I guess that’s been my approach to trying to get folks to understand and accept holistic methods – if I can model in my own life a more natural and holistic, spiritually-oriented way of living, and if I can pass some of this on to my family and to my extended family of friends and clients, maybe this will be enough.      


Sorry about the philosophical stuff, but I love these kinds of questions.