“If you don’t start somewhere, you’re never going to get anywhere.” -Bob Marley
I recently came across this wonderful quote, and my eyes lit up. The truth in this quote is profound and, at the same time, so extraordinarily simple. It’s similar to the quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” but I like the idea that someone just needs to start somewhere even more because it puts the action—and the responsibility—right smack dab on the person who wants to get somewhere.
In naturopathy, we understand and teach that each person is responsible for their own health, their own life, and their own decisions. This responsibility flows down to being responsible for your own pet’s (or pets’) lives and health as well. So often, as we’ve discussed before, we put the responsibility for our pet’s health on someone else—a veterinarian, for example—but there is no way that they can know our pets better than we ourselves do. And since ultimately it is the body that must heal itself, by balancing and strengthening itself throughout that individual’s life, the daily decisions we make about what our pets eat, what sort of water they drink, the exercise they get, how and where they sleep, and the mental and emotional state that they live in and around are truly what lend to vitality or the loss of such.
Balance in all things
But as with everything, there is a balance in naturopathy. So, although we are responsible for our pet’s welfare, nature also allows us to support them in achieving optimal wellness over time. That balance over time is vital, and when we truly understand it, we see that it lets us release the fear and resulting paralysis that often accompany changing what we’ve “always done” for something new. All naturopathy asks is that you start somewhere.
Take a breath…and then take action
When we really start thinking about the list of things that we can and should do to improve our pet’s vitality, it can get so overwhelming. Changing the diet, removing toxins in the house and yard, changing the exercise routine, changing the water, figuring out what supplements might be needed (if any), and doing this every day can be intense. And, of course, you must pay attention to your pet’s needs, because what they need one day may be different from what they need another day. Take, for example, how much you feed. You may feed them a certain amount (a pound, for example) each day, and then after a few months, notice that they are gaining a bit of weight. So you must adjust. And then, after a month or so, you may notice that they are losing some weight. So you adjust again. It’s not cut and dry. It requires attention. And paying attention to our pets like this is something that many of us are out of the habit of doing. But it is required, for optimal vitality. So, we start somewhere. I myself started with changing the diet. Once I was comfortable with that, I started turning my attention to eliminating the toxins. We already had a decent exercise routine, but I also addressed the water (making sure that they got clean, pure, filtered water, so I wasn’t exposing them to the chemicals routinely introduced to tap water throughout so much America). My personality is such that when I make a decision, I tend to move quickly, so I made these transitions in a relatively short amount of time, but I still did them step-by-step. It was too much to try and do all at once. Another woman that I know and respect told me recently that she started by removing pesticides from her dogs’ environment. She then addressed the food and the rest of it. Again, it was done in stages, at a pace that she was comfortable with and able to sustain.
Just keep moving
My point is that, when it comes to changing how you’ve been doing something, no matter how excited you are about it, it can be overwhelming. We’ve all been there, whether it be about our pet’s lifestyle or something else. It’s fine to take your time when changing everything—do things as you can do them, and eventually you’ll get there. If you need help, help is available. For example, if you’re looking for help with switching your pet to a diet that’s appropriate for their particular species, you can find a certified animal naturopath to assist. If you’re looking for help removing toxins from your home, you can find lots of great alternatives on the internet, or talk to a certified animal naturopath. You can also just start making the changes yourself, one at a time, as you are able. I don’t know anyone who has changed every single thing in a single day. Obviously, the changes you see will depend on how quickly you start your pet on a regimen designed for optimal wellness, but doing something—anything—will help. What’s truly important, as Bob Marley says, is that you start somewhere. It tends to have a snowball effect, because once you gain confidence, you tend to move at a faster pace. But what’s truly important isn’t the pace at which you move, it’s that you’re moving at all. So start somewhere—start anywhere. Your pet will be all the better for it.