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Monday, June 16, 2014

Catch-up Blog #9: Jesus, Corn, And A Dog

Despite the almost whimsical title of today's blog, this is actually serious.  I've been pondering how to reply for a while know, so bear with me.  And I would ask everyone reading to have compassion for this pet owner and not just launch into the stereotypical tirade about how corn is bad.  Here's the email...
Hello Chris. I read what you had to say about corn being good for dogs, not bad; then, clicked on your blogger profile and read about you. My dog has liver illness God healed through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, several days ago. An African-American woman and I, a Caucasian woman, both seniors, prayed over my little 10 lb dog who weighs but 7 lb. 8 oz. as of two days ago. We believe He healed her, and that it's up to me to get weight back on her but I'm having a hell of a time achieving that. 
She's been to two vets, my regular one Feb. 4th, who took full blood panel and X-Rays; and a specialist at an emergency clinic in another town for a consult and an ultrasound. The first vet said that on a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst, her liver is at a 9. That was on Feb. 4th. Penny Lane, my dog's name, is still here, but getting weaker. She weighed 8 lb. 6 oz. then. 
It's been a real crap shoot as to what she'll eat, day to day. She'll eat, but not as much as she should eat to gain the weight back. Three nights ago, a friend of mine gave me some cheap food for small dogs put out by Pedigree that he feeds his dogs that has corn as the first ingredient. My dog ate it that evening and for the next two days so that I began to think my troubles were behind me. Then, yesterday, she wouldn't eat more than a fourth of a cup in the morning, and another fourth of a cup in the evening, a half a cup all total.
Today, I went to a pet food store and bought another brand of food, paid three times as much, to get better quality food in her as one of the employees at that store who knows of my dog's illness and who has a dog who is recovering from surgery for bladder stones, said bad things about corn; that it's empty calories the dog poops out, that's it doesn't have enough nutrition in it for my dog's illness, etc. 
I know liver disease makes a dog nauseated so she's now taking Maropitant for that as of yesterday. Before that I was giving her an appetite stimulant; then, stopped for three days as there was an emergency that threw everything off in our routine. 
Here's the thing: 
If Jesus healed my baby girl, why doesn't she want to eat? Why is she dangerously low in weight, not putting weight back on? 
When Pauline and I sat down with my dog on my loveseat couch, my dog really took to her, climbing up on Pauline's lap. Then, I put Penny between the two of us, and Pauline prayed in earnest, asking that Penny be healed, and I have enough money to pay the bills as I'm broke these days thanks to the recession that severely hurt my business. Pauline and I held hands over Penny, with Pauline's other hand on Penny's head. In the middle of the prayer, Penny suddenly got up and moved over to the far side of me away from Pauline as I had been sitting to the left of Pauline, so Penny climbed over me to MY left side. However, when the prayer was over, Penny got back up and moved back to where she had been for the prayer--between the two of us. What else could it have been but Jesus touching her? The energy so powerful, my dog has to suddenly move away from it? 
To us, this was a sign that Christ had been there.
I told Pauline that Christ has come to me before but I usually feel shivers all through my body and/or tear up or cry thanking Him for coming to me. Well, the following day after we prayed, He did come and I did feel some light shivering and light tears came as a result. 
So I believe Jesus came to us, I believe He heard our prayer, I believe He healed her. I just can't understand why she won't eat enough to put the weight back on. 
I was hoping this Pedigree kibble for small dogs that I got at KMart would be an answer to a prayer but if it's just going through her and not providing nutrients, well, you see my dilemma. From what you said, corn both has protein and 80% carbs which is good for energy. This brand name product has chicken by products in it which I don't think are good but at this point, just getting her to eat has been my goal, not matter what she will eat, I don't care. 
I am contacting you about all of this because neither vet will speak to me about Jesus healing my dog. I need to talk to somebody who knows the science and who is a believer, you know?
Once we go beyond the surface, there are a few issues to address here that may not be immediately obvious.  First of all, there is nothing said about why the liver is "bad".  There is no such disorder as "liver disease" or "liver failure", believe it or not.  These are catch-all terms for when we haven't gotten down to the root cause.  The liver can be "bad" due to cancer, toxins, congenital problems, infection, fibrosis, and many other things.  Each disorder is going to be treated very differently, so unfortunately I can't make generalizations about why the liver is not working correctly in this case.  The first thing that needs to be done is get down to the bottom of the "why".  Why isn't the liver working?  Why did this happen?  Once we understand the primary cause the vet can start to work on a treatment plan.
Second, the pet store employee is misinformed.  Ground corn is absolutely NOT "empty calories", and if you talk to any board-certified nutritional specialist you will quickly learn that there are some important nutritents found in this ingredient.  It is most certainly not included as "filler".  By-products are also not bad, as they include organ meat.  Organs such as the liver provide many important nutritents that can't be found in muscle meat.
That being said, these diets may not be appropriate for a dog with liver disease.  Hill's Science Diet, Purina, Eukanuba, and Royal Canin all make a veterinary diet line, and all of them have a food specifically designed to help with unhealthy livers.  The nutritional content is different than "regular" dog food and may be more appropriate for a dog in this situation.  But again that depends on the cause.  A liver diet may not be the best choice for a dog with a large tumor, or may not be needed for an infection.  Ask your vet as to whether or not one of these specialized foods would be beneficial.
What about other treament?  Were medications prescribed?  Did the vet want to do follow-up visits and tests?  What was the final diagnosis?  Unfortunately there isn't enough to go by in this email, and I suspect that treatment would involve more than just changing foods to get the dog to eat.
Now on to the religious issue.  This is where I take off my stethoscope and put on my minister's hat.
God doesn't always answer our prayers for healing in the way that we want.  People and pets die every minute of the day despite prayers being said over them.  That doesn't mean that prayers don't work, as I've seen some miraculous, unexpected, and downright impossible healing happen in animals and humans as the direct result of prayer.  I am personally a very big believer in the power of prayer to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  But sometimes that's not God's plan.  Sometimes He allows illness to lead to death.  That doesn't mean that He is cruel or that the person wasn't praying earnestly enough.  Every living thing has a normal lifespan, some short and some long.  We have disease and illness due to the sinful nature of our world, and until the second coming of Christ it will continue to be this way. 
Sometimes God allows us to go through hardship to draw us closer to Him.  We often forget about His blessings when everything is going wonderfully (something I'm guilty of), and it takes sadness or tragedy to remind us that our true joy comes from God.  We may not always be able to see His plan, but we can trust that it's there.  Over the last year I've looked back on my life and have seen that none of my long-term plans have ever turned out how I wanted them to.  Often that would cause me great heartache or frustration.  Years later I have the perspective to see how His hand was guiding me the whole time, and how His plans were far better than my own.  A wonderful part of being a Christian is learning to have the assurance that we really do have someone watching out for us, and while that doesn't mean that we won't have troubles (the Bible even says that we're guaranteed to have them), we'll always have someone to walk with us through those times.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:26-28
I think the key thing here is verse 27, where we have to understand that prayers are answered according to God's will, not ours.  And that means that sometimes our will is in opposition to His. That has happened to me many, many times, and I'm stubborn and thick-headed enough for it to take several decades for me to learn my lesson.
I believe that God can heal without any medical intervention.  However, I also think that God grants doctors the skills, knowledge, and gifts to heal through traditional means.  So I would continue to talk to the vets in this case and continue to pray.  But above all trust the hand of God, and that He really does love you.