The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood

If you've read between the lines of a few of my blogs, you've already gathered that I have a profound interest in the care of senior animals, special needs animals, and animals with cancer. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Nadine M. Rosin, pet parent and author of The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood.

Nadine's beloved 8-year-old dog, Buttons, was diagnosed with cancer in 1992.  She was told that without amputation, chemotherapy and radiation within 48 hours of having received the diagnosis, Buttons would only have weeks to live.  Deciding to bypass that path in favor of holistic care, Nadine set out on her mission, making simple changes to Buttons' diet and environment, and healing her with herbs, tinctures and homeopathic remedies. Cancer-free, Buttons passed away peacefully of old age, in Nadine's arms, a week before her 19th birthday.

Here, I share with you Nadine and Buttons' amazing story.

Hi, Nadine,
Thanks so much for speaking with me about your heartwarming journey through Buttons' cancer, healing, passing, and, lastly, your continued, spiritual connection to her.
Thank you, Debbie, it's great to talk with you, thanks for having me!

Buttons reminds me of Opal in so many ways! I don't think I have to tell you how much I cried as I watched the video; not only tears of sadness, mind you, but tears of joy for the love and happiness that Buttons brought to your life, reminding me of the love and happiness that Opal and Dixie bring to mine.

How was Buttons' cancer discovered?
One day I found a hideously ugly, red, horn-rimmed tumor at the base of her tail. It was terrifying. I rushed her to the vet and had him do a biopsy.

What were the symptoms that alerted you to the fact that there might be something wrong?
I was caught completely by surprise. However, in retrospect I saw that there were some telling signs like loss of energy and lethargy. One of the reasons I wrote the book was to document ALL my 20/20 hindsight in the hopes of helping other pet parents avoid the same mistakes and oversights I made.

When Buttons was diagnosed with cancer, what gave you both the determination and the confidence to bypass the traditional, prescribed "medical" treatments in favor of holistic care?
I had the advantage of having been raised in a family that practiced some alternative health care methods. I was already well-versed in the difference between Western/allopathic medicine's way of focusing, squelching and treating the symptom versus the holistic method of removing all toxins from the body and environment, cleansing the body of all residual toxins, and strengthening the body nutritionally so it could heal itself. The EMOTIONAL turmoil I faced and overcame prior to my choice of treatment is described in detail in the story (it's a good one- don't want to ruin it for anyone here :).

Did you put her through any of the prescribed protocols at all, or did you stick to holistic-only?
The vet was insistent that without amputation, chemotherapy, and radiation within 48 hours of receiving the (twice done) lab results, Buttons would be dead in 6 weeks. However, I knew that wasn't the route for us, and instead, I enlisted the help of several alternative practitioners. Combined with my own knowledge and experience of treating the cause (emotional and physical toxicity placing an unmanageable burden on the immune system) rather than the symptom (cancer), proceeded to implement a purely holistic, cleansing regimen.

Did you consult with a holistic vet prior to embarking on your treatment plan for Buttons? Or did you create your own treatment plan based upon your extensive knowledge of alternative and holistic healing?
Buttons' diagnosis was in 1992. At that time there were no holistic vets in Tucson where we were living.

What did Button's diet consist of prior to her becoming ill?
A dry kibble prescribed by her vet.

What changes did you make to her diet after she was diagnosed?   
I immediately began home cooking organic food and treats. Eventually what in my opinion became the best diet for her was home cooked organic ground turkey, organic millet, grated raw veggies and sea meal.

What were some of the things you did to clear her environment of toxins?
I stopped using commercial flea products, air fresheners, and any cleaning products other than vinegar or lemon juice. I switched to an all-natural laundry detergent and stopped using all fabric softener and dryer sheets. I made sure her bowls were nowhere near an electrical outlet and gave away my microwave.

How and when did you realize that Buttons was suddenly thriving, and that her cancer seemed to have "reversed"?
For 4 months after her initial diagnosis, Buttons was getting different combinations of cleansing herbs, tinctures, and homeopathic remedies every few hours throughout the day. It was at that 4-month mark that I realized from her shiny coat and boundless energy, that I now had a healthy, 9-year old puppy on my hands! She thrived for an additional 11 years and the cancer never returned. She died peacefully, at home in my arms, of old age exactly 1 week prior to her 19th birthday.

I can't even imagine how I will go on when my Opal and Dixie leave this earth. Yet, you survived losing Buttons, who was as much the center of your universe as my girls are to mine. How did you survive, day-to-day, without her by your side? What helped you through your healing process? And, do you ever really heal?
Wow, Debbie, it would take an entire book to answer that question...oh, wait! :) <chuckle>  The last third of The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood is everything I went through after Buttons passed. Since I could find no pet loss books that fully addressed the depth of my pain, I decided to write one. Many things helped me through the healing process as I describe in the book: music, journaling, movement, meditation and mostly, communing with Buttons' spirit. Even Einstein said that you cannot get rid of energy- that it can only change form.

So I figured out ways to tune into that finer vibration: physical energy is dense and observable with our 5 physical senses. Spiritual or soul energy, if you will, is accessible through our hearts when our minds are quiet enough. Who hasn't had a "feeling" from time to time that could not be "explained"? I believe that what we as human beings know compared to what there is available to know, could fit on the head of a pin. That said, physically, I miss Buttons everyday and always will, but I have found a peaceful place for that pain and seldom focus on it. Instead, I am focusing on getting the word spread about this book in the hopes of it helping as many other dogs and pet parents as possible.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?
Even though the book is in narrative form and reads like a novel, it has a 3-fold mission:

  • Helping pet parents realize we may be unconsciously contributing to the skyrocketing increase of cancer in our pets by unknowingly creating highly toxic environments in our homes.
  • Providing comfort, camaraderie, and validation for pet parents experiencing the devastating loss of a beloved pet
  • Helping to remove the words, "It's just a dog/cat" from the lips of non pet parents everywhere

In addition, I want pet parents to feel proud and open about the deep bonds they have with their pets.

In my fund raising speech for animal non profits, I often say that our animals are like furry Buddhas, embodying the best of our humanity and here teaching us that life is supposed to be enjoyed and in the moment, regardless of circumstances, other people's opinion, or economic climate.

One of my favorite emails from a reader was from a lady who'd recently lost her 13-year old Bichon. In her 5th week of deep grief, her grown sons insisted she "get over it already" and/or "get another dog." The woman's reaction to her sons was to feel even more pain, anger and isolation. A few weeks later, she came across my book. Immediately after finishing it, she went onto and had a copy sent to each of her sons. She promised them that if they both read the book as soon as it was delivered, she would never again mention her grief around her beloved dog. Well, a week later, her sons came by with flowers and family photos the Bichon was in and apologized profusely to their mom saying that after reading The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood, they now understood what she was really going through. They said they would support her in any way they could for however long her grieving lasted.

My greatest hope is that the book goes on to help many, many pet parents and non pet parents, alike!

Thank you so much for sharing Buttons with us, as well as your beautiful relationship with her.
Thank YOU, Debbie, Opal, and Dixie!

For those of you who have not yet read Nadine's book, "The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood," whether or not you have ever lost a pet, I encourage you to not only read the book, but to watch the video on the homepage of Nadine's site.


Nadine's book is a must read for any pet parent who is looking for ways to create a healthy environment and lifestyle for their pets. Nadine's knowledge of holistic pet care is impressive, and her personal experience with some of these therapies is convincing. The book is also a wonderful resource for anyone who is having a difficult time dealing with the profound grief that comes with losing a beloved pet.

Nadine M. Rosin's book The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood was an inspiration for me to seek alternative options for my dog who was going through serious health issues, to the point that I was being told by many to "put him down". Now, almost a year after reading Rosin's book, my dog no longer has to make to "monthly" vet visits and is doing great! Rosin's book was such an inspiration that I have decided to study homeopathy for animals and have also taken a healthier path in my life as well. I highly recommend The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood by Nadine M. Rosin; not only will you discover the journey of Nadine and her dog Buttons, but you will discover your own journey as well.

Great article, Debbie! It's an incredibly tough decision to face when your dog has been diagnosed with cancer. We've been through it and have no regrets. It's wonderful to know there are other options and kudos to Nadine for telling her story about Buttons.

This is an inspiring interview, Debbie, with loads of useful and important information for pet parents facing difficult decisions. Thank you!

What an inspiring story! It is so great to know that there are alternatives to traditional method - that route is so awful.