Category Archives: GroupHug

This is the place you can come when all else fails. When you can’t talk to your wife. When our best friend would never understand. When your parents are gone or just don’t get it and you just want to reach out to someone—to a friend. A bunch of friends… to share, to discover, to learn, to grow. To know you are not alone. You are safe here buddy, you are among friends. Feel free to ask us a question. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll do our best to find it.

Teaching Children about Arthritis in Dogs

Heads up Dad if you have a senior dog in your family’s home, you may wish to read up on these helpful tips to managing arthritis in dogs to make everyone’s lives a little easier. Raising awareness in children for a dog’s deteriorating physical state will help parents explain and hopefully prevent troubling behaviour. It doesn’t take much thought or action to make a big difference in the quality of a senior dog’s day-to-day existence.

Kids Dog Walk 2013

Generally speaking for most young couples the dog is the first family member.
Hip dysplasia with arthritisIt is important to remember that dogs get arthritis same as humans, and its more frequent in big dogs than it is in humans, and its more painful too. In a great many cases the dog’s pain is unmitigated by any medication or treatment. But there are things you can do, including raise awareness in your children for a senior dog’s condition, and affect diet and lifestyle adjustments around the house to improve the quality of life for this animal companion.

Learning Remedies for Dogs with Arthritis
Arthritis is a common health issue with older dogs and esp larger dogs. Although they work on different species, doctors and veterinarians both call arthritis by its technical name: osteoarthritis or its hospital name, degenerative joint disease. This condition is caused by the slippery stuff coming away from the bones in the joints and the wear and tear of bone on bone causes inflammation (as the blood fights to get to the ailment) which causes pain.

Six Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

1. Reduced Activity, withdrawn from family life
2. Limping after exercise, stiffness after morning walks
3. Difficulty getting up from a lying down position
4. Difficulty climbing up stairs, or jumping into cars
5. Chewing or licking at joints
6. Showing personality changes and being ‘grumpy’

Is your dog wetting its bed?
Fritz in HD, dog wet bed, dog with arthritisOlder pets, often find it hard to get up to follow you outside to relieve themselves. In some cases they just do it right there in bed – that’s why its important to set a routine and make sure that your dog goes outside before bedtime at night whether they want to or not. Often female dogs benefit when given phenylpropanolamine PPA in relation to a medical condition that is related to flabbiness of the sphincter muscles of their lower urinary tract. In other female dogs, chronic urinary tract infections are the cause. Still others are over-drinking due to kidney deterioration. Some are diabetic, and others are simply losing their minds.

How to manage young kids around senior dogs?
Young children will sometime hit dogs thinking they are petting it, and loving hugs can become eternal death squeezes. Senior dogs may snap. Trainers will tell you that young kids and dogs should never be left alone together. Also give the dog a place where they can escape small children. Sometimes dogs need a room of their own and just some cardboard moving boxes behind a living room couch or chair can offer shelter to persecuted animals.

Watch what the kids feed the dog!
Children should be told to never feed the dog strange foods. Never ever feed chocolate or sweets or ice cream, which dogs will eat, and these substances will pass through their bodies, but at some cost to their livers and kidneys.

Feed a Senior Dog Food Brand
Boy and DogAll major pet food manufacturers offer “Senior” brands of food. They tend to be lower in calories, higher in fiber, with added glucosamine. What your pet eats and how much it eats throughout its life will affect arthritis in later years. Is your dog overweight? Reducing your dog’s weight to a healthy level is one of the most important things you can do to reduce its discomfort – same as humans.

Keep Dog Toenails Trim, Walk the Dog on Leash
Keep your senior dog’s toenails clipped properly so it walks and runs normal. Having overgrown toenails is a lot like being forced to wear uncomfortable shoes; extra long toenails place abnormal stress on the joints and ligaments of the feet. But when cutting these toenails be sure never remove too much nail at once; the animal’s toenails should just touch the floor when your pet is standing. When walking the dog be extra careful around traveled surfaces as recent dashcam videos show dogs being hit by hybrid (quieter) cars.

Build ramps around the house to help pets manage inclined surfaces
If you have a set of stairs that the dog must walk everyday consider putting in a ramp, and cover the ramp with carpet. Add more carpets and rugs to the house. Arthritic dogs find it difficult to walk on slippery floors such as tiled or hardwood floors. By placing carpet or rugs on these floors will help secure your dog’s footing and make their lives a little easier.

Don’t be shy about massaging the dog’s muscles in hot water dog baths
In certain special circumstances, if a senior dog had a particularly active day keeping up with younger dogs, then it might be advisable to pour a hot bath and massage its hips and leg muscles. Added heat from heating pads and soaks in heated water relax muscles, increase circulation in the affected areas. We put our dogs’ beds in the sun room which is warmer than the rest of the house during the day, even in the wintertime. but on cold winter nights we do bring them into the living room by the fireplace.
Yogurt dog, what dogs eat affects arthritis

Convenient Dish And Water Bowl Placement
Senior pets are often more comfortable eating and drinking from slightly elevated containers. Older, larger breeds are more susceptible to gastric bloat and the exercise of eating and swallowing upwards doesn’t help the digestive system. So feeding your elderly pet multiple small meals, rather than one or two large ones, is also a wise idea.

Top ‘Companion’ Breeds for Young Families:
American Water Spaniel
Appenzeller Sennenhunde
Basset Hound
Beagle
Berger Picard
Bernese Mountain Dog
Boston Terrier
Boykin Spaniel
Brittany
Brussels Griffon
Bull Terrier
English Setter
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Flat-Coated Retriever
Golden Retriever
Harrier
Irish Wolfhound
Labrador Retriever
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Pharaoh Hound
Puggle
Pyrenean Shepherd
Pointer
Sussex Spaniel
 

 

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FLOWING WITH THE GOOD GUYS

It was with great sadness that I read about the recent Norwegian terrorist attacks. A tragic ordeal for any country to have to experience, yet there was a point in the story where I found one Norwegian’s comment to be equally absurd as the attacks were cruel. A woman’s response to the killings was, “Why are they killing us? We’re the good guys!” Most of us think the same way; we are the good guys, the ones who know what’s best or what is right. Adolf Hitler was convinced that his Nazi movement was the best solution for the world’s problems. And through his eyes, it was. The same can be said for Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush and it is with this lack of awareness upon which most of mankind operates.

Albeit slowly, an increasing number of the world’s population is adopting a different viewpoint (or philosophy, or truth) that there is no right and no wrong, there simply is. This is not to say that whatever happens in the world is acceptable. It is to understand that only the flow of nature exists and that everything happening is a part of that flow. It is the understanding that there are no shoulds or shouldn’ts, only choices. The difference is that should’s and shouldn’t’s are constructs of our mind, while clear choices (I will or I won’t) come from the heart.

I recently witnessed a parent become very frustrated, claiming that her toddler was supposed to listen to her, as if it were her child’s job. In reality, her child’s only job is to act naturally, which is to be aware in some moments and unaware in other moments. If the mother chooses to parent consciously, then it is in fact her job to find a way to be in relationship with her child, discovering ways to flow with both her child’s awareness and lack thereof.

Essentially, life is about relationships, or how we relate to each of our experiences. Have you ever experienced physical pain and thought “This shouldn’t be happening!”? When we don’t flow with nature, believing that something should or shouldn’t be happening, we create suffering for ourselves. A common reaction I’ve seen after reading of earthquakes is “Why would God make such a thing happen!?” Conversely I recall many comments made of the Japanese response to their recent earthquake/tsunami experience, as they largely exemplified acceptance around what happened, while then responding to what needed attention. When we flow with nature, working with what is, we create more ease for ourselves.

Consider that all the ‘unnatural’ deaths that have ever occurred are serving to build our global collective pain that is now bringing about our planet’s current shift in consciousness. Consider that every cubic ton of pollution we’ve created thus far is serving to awaken us to the point where we once again realize the true value of our planet. Many sacrifices have been made in order to create the opportunity that lies before us all. Consider that there is no right and no wrong—only countless opportunities to, through awareness, healthfully flow with what is. After all, we’re all the good guys, each of us sharing a common desire: to be happy, as each of us does our best to find our way.

Lest we forget…

Lest We forget...

Graves of personnel from the Edmonton Regiment killed in the battle of Ortona, 7 January, 1944.

We pause to honour the fallen on Remembrance Day

“The lessons learned from these terrible conflicts must never fade from our collective consciousness,”

Lieutenant-Governor Donald Ethell (Retired Colonel)

My generation grew up in a world that was oblivious to war. To us, war was something that happened a long time ago on another soil between people we will never know. Our parents used to tell us stories of what it was like to grow up during the war, TV and the movies brought us the visuals. Hogans Heroes, the Great Escape, the Battle of the Bulge. Frightening as it seemed on TV, we could never imagine the horror of ever having to endure something like that. The brave and gallant men and women who stepped up to the plate, swallowed the risk and ventured off on their own free will to defend our rights and freedoms on foreign soil. Many never returned, many returned home injured or maimed for life. All had made the ultimate sacrifice so future generations would not have to live in fear, would never have to know such violence and death. The ones that died had given up their lives and made it safe for us to feel that way. It was as if that kind of thing could never, ever happen again, and certainly not on our own soil let alone that of another civilized nation in Europe or anywhere.

Recent history has proven that theory wrong. It astounds me that we still find our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers going off to fight wars in foreign countries—even if the premise is to protect the rights and freedoms of those that are left behind in the comfort of home. The supposed threats of today pale in comparison to the threats of Hitler’s aggression in 1939.

And yet all over the world, young men and women are out there, becoming the heroes and veterans of tomorrow. In Iraq, and Afghanistan, they are out there fighting wars that many of us do not agree with. The numbers are fewer, but the stories are just as humbling. For some, they come home to a life of opportunity and the prospect of a life full of promise and prosperity. For many, the story is not so bright.

In 1945, returning veterans were hailed as heroes, and had nothing but a world of opportunity ahead of them. Today, those that are returning from the theatre of war are returning to a completely different reality. Beyond the obvious physical traumas, broken bones and severed limbs, there lurks a much darker set of problems, the depth and severity of which no one really knows and may only present itself over time. Post traumatic stress and the effects on the individual and the families that live with these veterans is largely overshadowed by the politics of the day. Day by day, thousands of men and women around the world are heading into a tailspin and a common complaint is that the very system they put their lives on the line for, is not giving them the support they need in return now that they are home. This is happening in Canada, in the US and in other countries all over the world.

Today we take a few moments to honor and thank those that fought for our freedom. We remember those that died, and honor their sacrifice. Those who were not so lucky to return home and those that did. But after today, the women and men who come home from Iraq, who come home from Afghanistan, those who have come home injured, have to go back to their own realities. Home to fight their own battles. Home to heal the physical wounds, the psychological scars, the emotional traumas. Home to fight for survival, to get better, to find their place in the world they have returned to, and in many cases, they have to do it on their own, without the support you would think they have earned and would be entitled to.

Here in Canada, we hear a lot about veterans coming home and disappearing into the fabric to suffer alone and it is a terrible shame. Embarrassing really. Politicians are quick to use the rhetoric about heroes and bravery and defending our freedoms etc when it is convenient for their purposes and helps them get elected, but when it comes to giving them the respect and post theatre benefits they deserve, too often they fall way short.

So today, we remember and honour our fallen brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters from wars gone by—but also, we take a moment to honour the fallen soldiers and the surviving veterans from recent wars as well. We wish the injured, the traumatized and the maimed the courage and the strength to overcome their challenges, whatever they may be…

Peace.

ZERO TO HERO… One woman’s tale about male infertility

Shawna and Magnus

Dearest Dads,

Well, it has been a while since my last post, and I do apologize. Professionally, I seem to always be busy, I’m sure we have that in common right? While it’s my mission to deliver as much fun and informative fitness chatter as I can to keep you healthy and fit, today I am going to share with you something that is very personal and close to my heart.

I’ve had more on my plate than normal for quite some time. And it’s a particular ball in the air that I’d like to share with each of you today, because I sincerely feel I just might be able to offer a real life perspective about a very real  issue that effects many but is discussed openly by few, and that’s male infertility.

My husband and I are 35 and 37 years old respectively and have been trying to plan our family for over a year and a half. After trying naturally for over 9 months and getting nowhere, we began our quest for answers. After learning that all seemed well from my end, I forced my husband (who has no concept of time really, or interest in doctor’s offices) to make an appointment for his own check up.

Via his GP, his first semen analysis came back dreadfully low, practically nil. Astonishing!

Two more samples were immediately taken, as something must have gotten mixed up! My 285lb, retired professional wrestler and ultra fit husband who makes a living training competitive bodybuilders and helps me run a health and wellness business CANNOT be what he thought, was low in testosterone! Needless to say, we learned that testosterone levels in a man have absolutely nothing to do with infertility! Did you know that? There are a few causes such as genetic defects, hormonal imbalances, anatomical problems and another being that it can be unexplainable, just like it is for us. Nonetheless, we were told that luckily we can have a child together, but that In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was our only choice, ($10,000  per cycle—pray that it only takes one!) yikes!

Did you know that Caucasian men of Northern European decent are the most likely to be carriers of, or have Cystic Fibrosis (a debilitating disease that affects the entire body, and has a short life span?!) Men, who are carriers of this disease, although asymptomatic, can have a low sperm count because of it, as there is a strong correlation between the two. My husband’s urologist thought for sure his Icelandic background was the culprit. That blood test takes 3+ months to come back by the way! Interesting bed of pins and needles we were on last winter! But all is clear. Not a CF carrier, or threat of spreading a congenital disease, but a hefty dent in the bank account was vast encroaching!

So, this past February, we decided to take some of our own control over this situation. After some researching, my husband began to make some changes. The “tightey whities” went in the garbage, he let his old pal Jack Daniels collect dust in the bar cabinet, he tightened his diet and I had him on an entirely new supplement regimen. One filled with extra Zinc, Selenium, Folic Acid, B complex, and a high potency multivitamin. Another sample came back and we reached 1 million. Cool. We were happy, up is always better than down!

But in mid March, I learned of a very powerful antioxidant compilation called OPC-3. This OPC-3 had “increased sperm quality” in its literature, so he took the maximum dose for his size daily and his next sample was in early April, a short 5 weeks afterwards and it came back a whopping 10 million! Out of nowhere! Our good friends at Mt Sinai Infertility Clinic in Toronto, Ontario were flabbergasted.  We cant explain it, but in our personal experience, we truly believe that without OPC-3 my husband’s sperm count would NOT have risen from an average 300-500,000 to10 million! We agree a combination of everything was ideal. But we don’t think that this exponential surge happened without the aid of this particular antioxidant. It was the only addition to our baby program since all of the other analyses. If interested, it would be my pleasure to tell you more about it—Just ask!

So essentially, we were able to take IVF off of the table, and begin attempting Intrauterine Injections (IUI) in other words, insemination. With his strict new regimen, my husband continues to produce samples anywhere between 3-10 million and we are presently waiting for the outcome of our 3rd IUI.  Wish us luck! Even though IUI’s aren’t covered in our province, they are a fraction of the cost that we thought we were looking at which made our journey A LOT more bearable! So this was very exciting news!

But guys, this is a tough road. It’s a journey with your spouse that brings you both to a totally different place. My guy suffers silently with horrible feelings of emasculation, lack, unworthiness and somehow he feels he has let me down. I used to get upset with him when he would try and express himself because we were always coached to regard it as “our” infertility. I never faulted him for any of this. I was mad that he didn’t understand how much I loved him and how proud I am of him as a human being. But as a man, he claims those feelings never really go away and they never seem appropriate to bring up in the locker room or while out with the boys. My husband feels lonely in this particular realm of his/our life, as male infertility isn’t talked about very much. Even though it’s the easiest infertility obstacle you can have, as a woman’s reproductive system is so much more complicated. But, as women, we always seem to have the ability and the place to discuss our feelings. And there are more support groups available. Our own medical clinic agrees.

However, we encourage you to talk about it, understand it, be open. There is no shame to this at all. We learned that 1/6 North American couples require ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies). Make a visit to your doctor’s office if you’re struggling with conception. In this race, there IS time is to lose. It’s never an easy fix and a lot of time, effort and diagnostic testing goes on and you need to allow yourselves the time to fulfill your process of elimination. We’re here for you. Please feel comfortable to reach out for me or for Magnus, my husband, if you need us. We’d love to help and offer you or a buddy you know of our support!

I sincerely appreciate your time this week. I feel better sharing what I can. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your stories, you will be glad you did.

Post a comment here or Email Me if you have any questions.

Letters to my Father: Just a Word of Love

Christopher Davies at Headsupdad.com

Christopher Davies as remembered by Angelique Davies

On January 25, 2007 I lost my father, Christopher Davies, to spinal cancer. I think about him often, usually at times in my life when I don’t know what to do in a difficult situation and at times when I’d normally turn to him for his help and wise advice. Times like now.

He was the chief negotiator at the Toronto Star for nearly twenty five years and was known for conducting collective bargaining in high style and with humour. And always great food would be part of it. He’d likely make my worries more bearable by saying something very Billy Bragg, like “Kid, you’ve gotta learn to take the crunchy with the smooth.” But it would hardly be a tribute to his memory if I sent out a cosmic cry for help, especially on Father’s Day. My worries will still be there tomorrow.Anyway, I’d rather share a happy memory that would make him smile. This one is about the day my father finally unloaded his forty year old daughter.

Although he fought his two year battle with spinal cancer with tremendous courage and strength, it became clear at a certain point that my father was living on borrowed time. Our focus became quality of time rather than quantity. What could I do that would make my father truly happy? My partner and I talked at some length and decided formalize our relationship. My parents had always worried that I would never marry – I’d pretty much accepted that this was entirely possible, warty troll that I am – and that was OK. But against all odds, Frank came into my life and turned out to be a keeper who happened to like warty trolls. I knew that it would give my father tremendous peace of mind to know that I had someone to take care of me. I just didn’t want to raise a glass at my wedding one year later and say, “If only my father were here to see this.” The time to set things in motion was now.

So we planned a hasty wedding, while he was well enough to attend. It was a simple civil ceremony in Welland, followed by a nice luncheon. My father made the most touching speech, entitled “Just a Word of Love”, which I share with you now. He said, “It is hard to express the love and pride that I feel. Today is so very, very special, so full of happiness. My heart overflows with gratitude that I have been spared to see the day when my lovely, talented daughter has entered into the blessed state of matrimony. I don’t just speak for myself but for Helene who left this world too soon. She would have been so proud and happy. I am particularly pleased that Helene got to meet Frank and saw the goodness in him as I do, knowing that he will take such good care of Angelique. You are both special and may God bless both of you. May the love that you have for each other keep you warm on winter nights and cool when the sun beats down. May the good Lord bless and keep you both, now and forevermore.”

It was truly the happiest day of my life and I’m glad that my father was a part of it, and that the memory of it will sustain me, even on the dark days. I miss my father, but I know he’s always with me.

To others who are missing their fathers today, I hope your happy memories see you through.

Happy Father’s Day!

This father’s day, we’re going fishing!

Headsupdad.com - This Father's Day, we're going Fishing!

We caught a fish as long as my arm that weighed about 13lbs!

Do you remember when I’d write you poems like these for Father’s Day?
And I was probably about 7 years old
Dancing around when you’d come home from work…

Ever since I was young, I have loved going on fishing trips with my dad, even if it meant getting up at 6AM. It’s been a few years since we’ve gone, but I still remember how to cast and reel in a catch, so I think we’ll be okay.

For years my Dad took me to the Outdoors show, and fishing competitions just to spend some time outside with him. I remember the times I’d cast my line and hit a rock, and quietly wait to mention something, until he’d look over and laugh saying “I don’t think you’re line is strong enough to reel that rock in”. Countlessly untangling my fishing line, and unhooking the fish I’d caught brought us together, and we became voyageurs of the seas! (errr… Georgian Bay).

The moment I will never forget is at a fishing competition we went to when I was about eleven. We set up our chairs on the dock and put the fresh bait on the hook, ready to reel in that $1000 trout! A couple of hours had passed by, and I was so frustrated that we had not even had a nibble on our lines, I started to complain and wanted to go home. My dad insisted we stay for a little bit longer, because it was a nice day and we had nothing to rush home to. After about an hour of pouting I fell into a deep sleep, with my hat over my eyes.

KIMMY! I awoke abruptly to my dad hovering over me trying to grasp my rod, there it was, the big bite we had been waiting for! I was so startled and quickly my Dad and I brought in the fish together. It was huge to me, probably weighing about 13 pounds, I was grinning from ear to ear as we brought him in and up on the dock. My dad could not believe I had fallen asleep and managed to catch a trout, because he didn’t even get one. I bragged the entire ride home, claiming I was just a natural, and the fish gravitated to my fishing approach, he just smiled.

It seems like many years ago, but I still remember it vividly. It’s the moments that are spontaneous and unplanned that make for the best memories. And by the way, it wasn’t the $1000 trout we’d caught, but we didn’t care.