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Book Review
The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog
by Wendy Volhard & Kerry Brown

Review by: Kate Connick, Nov. 2003

Every now and then, you read a book so demented that you wonder how it ever got past an editor. Wendy Volhard & Kerry Brown's The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog is that kind of book. What makes it all the more startling is that Wendy Volhard is an otherwise excellent author when writing about matters of dog training. Ordinarily sensible, well-respected and rational, this book serves as a reminder that even otherwise regular people have moments of profound goofiness.

One of the core concepts of this book - and one that incinerates any shred of author credibility - is kinesiology. So inane is this "method" at its very core that it renders the entire book a colossal embarrassment. That being said, the idea of non-institutionalized adults believing in this silliness does provide some amusement to the reader.

The gist of kinesiology is that health relates to a "synchronicity" of energy fields that affect the dog, with the dog's body and the food it consumes being among those energy fields. If the energy field from a particular food doesn't harmonize with the energy field of a particular dog, aliens land and snatch his soul in the dead of the night. No, wait, I mean to say that the imbalance will cause "dis-harmony" and "dis-ease." The authors trot out everything from E=MC2 to T-cells in the thymus gland to try to make this hokum believable.

The way to measure balance is through the muscle system. If you wanted to see if I was "in balance," I would stand with my right arm extended parallel to the ground. You would press my arm downward, and my ability to hold my arm steady would demonstrate the strength of my deltoid muscle and thus my energy field.

If my health was compromised, "the arm would go down easily when pressed, indicating that the person is out of balance." This arm-strength goofiness then becomes the means to test the energy fields of foodstuffs. I could hold food in my left hand, and whether or not you could easily depress my right arm would reflect that food's appropriateness for me.

"The foods that test strong will be showing the same energy frequencies as your body, meaning they are in harmony with you. Foods that are not in the same wavelength will cause weakness in the deltoid muscle and the arm will go down."

The point, of course, is to test one's dog and not oneself. Energy is transferred through others, so all one has to do is hold a food sample against their dog's body with the left hand, while the right arm is extended for testing. Conveniently enough, "Using kinesiology allows us to find a food suitable for each of our dogs. We don't have to become PhDs in nutrition to figure out what is best for our pets."

So magical is kinesiology that one doesn't even need the actual food to test.

"A more advanced way of doing kinesiology is by writing down the name of the food or supplement on a plain piece of paper and holding it on the dog's body. Incredibly, it works the same way as the product itself... it is another of those mysteries that science as yet cannot explain."

One can even discuss diagnosis and treatment with their dog - or at least present yes-or-no questions and true-or-false statements for verification. Via kinesiology, the author asks her dog, "'Katharina, is there something in your food that is causing red spots on your skin?'" She was thereby able to diagnose a bacterial contamination in the raw meat that she'd been feeding the animal.

You get the idea. The entire book is an absurd yet alarmist presentation of irrational nonsense. The authors promote a homemade diet that includes raw meat and fasting. They believe in fictional powers of homeopathy and other "alternative" approaches to health. Food allergies and "vaccinosis" are essentially the root of all evil, and kinesiology is the greatest diagnostic tool of all. The authors do include some general information about nutrients, laboratory tests, and organ function to perhaps attempt to legitimize the rest of the content, but it doesn't work. The book is just plain silly.

Note: If anyone is interested in learning more about kinesiology, take a look at Quackwatch's helpful article, titled Applied Kinesiology: Muscle-Testing for "Allergies" and "Nutrient Deficiencies"

The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog by Wendy Volhard & Kerry Brown.
Published by Howell Book House, 1995. ISBN: 0876055609

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