November 18th, 2014
Halie Snider knew exactly what she wanted for her 14th birthday. She wanted a puppy…a yellow lab mix, rescue puppy to be exact. The dog she would adopt would soon become the love of the entire family. A loyal companion, Zayda, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, loved to spend time doing anything with any of the Sniders. Life was good. Move forward six years to April 2014 and tragedy strikes the Snider family. Their beloved Zayda was in danger and not expected to live much longer.
Dogs Have A Way of Finding The People That Need Them…
Excited about finding a furry best friend, Halie scanned the Birmingham-Jefferson Animal Shelter’s available dogs online. That’s where she spotted six month old Zayda.
“She found Zayda’s picture and fell in love,” said Halie’s mother, Vanessa. “The next Saturday, which was her birthday, we went to the shelter and found Zayda. There were so many cute dogs, and we encouraged her to look around. We even got several others out of their enclosures and took them out to play with them. But she would not be swayed! We ended up adopting Zayda!”
Zayda quickly became a steadfast member of the family and everyone’s favorite playmate. Games of fetch and tug were a mainstay around the house, and car rides were a MUST. The Snider girls had to spell out the words to keep Zayda from getting too excited about an R-I-D-E, but they took her regularly. She even befriended the neighbors and began a routine of running next door to visit them to snag an extra treat every now and then.
Keep Calm and Hug Your Dog
Things were great until April of this year when Vanessa had shoulder surgery and was home for the next four weeks for recovery and rehab.
“I began to notice that Zayda didn’t want to go out with our other dog, Zoe. She just wanted to lie on the ottoman next to my chair,” said Vanessa. “I thought she didn’t want to leave me. Although she is my daughter’s dog, she and I are very close and very attached to one another.”
Then, one night, she began vomiting. Zayda couldn’t keep anything down, and the Sniders decided to take her to the vet. The doctor feared she had pancreatitis and kept her overnight. The next day Zayda was doing much better and was allowed to go home with a few food and water instructions to help her further recover from the illness. She did well that Saturday but soon started vomiting again Sunday evening.
“She refused food, and threw up even the little water she was drinking. She just lay in one spot and didn’t want to move,” explains Vanessa. “First thing on Monday, I called the vet and took her back.”
The veterinarian kept Zayda for further testing and called back that afternoon with results of an x-ray showing a mass in her abdomen. Not being able to tell much about where exactly it was, he wanted to keep her for another night and perform exploratory surgery the next day.
The Snider family had been anxiously awaiting the call, and when it came, the news was grim.
“He said he had bad news…there was a large tumor attached to her pancreas and it had metastasized to her liver,” Vanessa explained. “He said there was really nothing that he could do. He suggested that we take her home and ‘love on her as long as we could stand it.’ He thought she might live a week at the most.”
The Sniders didn’t want to lose their beloved Zayda, but they also didn’t want her to have to endure anymore pain. After talking with her husband and children, Vanessa decided to wait a day before making the decision. Kate, the oldest Snider daughter, was celebrating her 22nd birthday and Vanessa didn’t want her to remember it as the painful day they lost Zayda. Vanessa’s husband, Jimmy, called to tell the doctor the decision, and the doctor explained that Zayda was standing up and wagging her tail. She wasn’t in too much pain at the time. The Sniders knew if Zayda wasn’t in pain they had to bring her home. The decision wouldn’t be made until Zayda let them know the time was right. The vet sent her home with pain meds, and left the shunt in her leg to easily inject the medication to put her to sleep when the need arose.
“Because she really couldn’t eat or hold down much food, I wanted to try to find something I could give her that would give her the nutrition she needed, and ANYTHING that might help her condition,” said Vanessa. “I looked online for ‘holistic pet stores’ and Hollywood Feed is the only one that popped up. Although not far from my house, I didn’t know anything about it.”
All You Need Is Love…and Goat’s Milk
Vanessa drove to Hollywood Feed in Mountain Brook, Alabama, not knowing what she would find, if anything, to help her sweet Zayda.
Vanessa explained to the staff that she had a “sick dog – very sick – who couldn’t really eat.” She was hoping to find something to give Zayda that provided the vitamins and minerals that she needed. The Hollywood Feed employee immediately recommended goat’s milk and led Vanessa to the store’s freezer.
“She told me it was raw and had all the nutrients my dog would need, even if she couldn’t eat,” explained Vanessa. “She told me how much to give Zayda, and told me about grain-free food, and I left with several cans of food and two quarts of goat’s milk.”
Vanessa immediately started to mix the goat’s milk and food for Zayda (and even mixed some goat’s milk with Zoe’s food).
“I began to see immediate gradual improvement. At the end of the first week, the vet’s office called to check on Zayda (because I truly believe they thought we would have already brought her back). I told the vet’s assistant that she was doing better, eating and keeping her food down, and seemed to have more energy. She sounded a little skeptical, but told me to keep in touch.”
The same happened multiple times. The vet’s assistant would call to check on Zayda and Vanessa would explain that it seemed that every day and every week Zayda got a little better. “I also told her about the goat’s milk at that point. I could hear the skepticism and maybe a little doubt (like maybe I had gone crazy), but she said ‘well, just keep doing what you’re doing I guess.’
“The same pattern continued for the next several months, with Zayda improving and either the vet’s office calling me, or me calling them to check in. At one point, the vet’s assistant told me, like she had to defend their diagnosis, ‘I was in surgery with him with Zayda, and I saw it – I saw the tumor!’ I told her I didn’t doubt them, and also couldn’t explain Zayda’s improvement. I told them, and pretty much everyone, that the only things I could attribute her recovery to were goat’s milk…and prayer!”
You’ll Never Walk Alone Because I’ll Always Be With You
Jimmy took Zayda back to the vet just two weeks ago for the first time in six months. It was time for her annual visit and rabies shots. After a physical exam, the veterinarian thought he could still feel something in her abdomen but was completely amazed at how well Zayda was doing. Jimmy answered lots of questions the doctor had and told him all about the goat’s milk. The vet excitedly said “it’s working so don’t change a thing!” and recommended they “keep doing EXACTLY what you’ve been doing!”
The family and doctor don’t know for sure if the cancer is still there or not. There’s no way of knowing without doing another surgery, and that’s something neither wants to do. “The disease could progress again at any point, but everyone is AMAZED she lived beyond a few days, much less almost seven months now. And she hasn’t just stayed alive, she is happy and appears healthy, she has a great appetite, and runs and plays with Zoe and the family.
“She’s just a joy to have around, and we are so thankful to have been given more time with her, and that she’s been happy and felt good,” Vanessa said. “She is such a sweet dog and loves each of us and I can’t imagine our family without her. But even if the illness returned today and she passed, we are still SOOOO thankful that the folks at Hollywood Feed cared enough to ask me what I needed and took the time to talk with me and show me the goat’s milk, and the other grain-free food. They have been so caring…always asking about Zayda when I go in every couple of weeks for milk.”
“The Journey of Life is Sweeter When Traveled with a Dog.” -Bridget Willoughby
As for now, things are back to normal for the Snider family. The only difference? Goat’s milk is now a staple in the Snider canine diet! Fetch, tug, visits to the neighbors, and car rides are again part of everyday life.
We can all learn a lesson from Zayda. When the going gets tough, hang your head out the car window, feel the breeze rushing through your hair, then lean back in the car and give your favorite human a big, slobbery, kiss to let them know how much you love them. Never take one minute for granted, and never stop putting one paw in front of the other and moving forward. With the help of God, family, and friends you can make it through anything.
A Note From Hollywood Feed About Our Beliefs on Health and Nutrition
At Hollywood Feed, we live for days like this – days when we get to hear remarkable stories about how nutrition has made a life-changing difference in a beloved pet’s life. We’re delighted to provide paramount nutrition for dogs and cats and offer a veterinarian-trained staff to help guide consumers to what’s right for their specific pet. When customers return to us with stories like Zayda’s the feeling is indescribable. The only way I can think to express it is the feeling a puppy experiences when they FINALLY catch their tail; relief that we helped make life better for an animal, excitement that we now have more successful information to provide to the next customer, and joy – pure joy – that one more cherished pet gets to spend more time with his treasured human family.
We work hard to stay up-to-date on the latest health and nutrition needs of dogs and cats (and lots of other animals, too). We discuss our own research and reading amongst ourselves at the office and the stores, speak with veterinarians about different issues, and listen to customers when they tell us what has worked and what hasn’t all in order to provide our clientele with the best advice possible. We, in no way, want to undermine a veterinarian’s recommendations, and we don’t suggest that you ever stop giving medication or prescription food without talking with your pet’s doctor first. We also know that many times holistic nutrition choices aren’t enough. Sometimes God is calling your pet home and nothing can change His plan. This breaks our hearts and pushes us to learn more and more about providing nutrition that paves the way for a long and healthy life for our pets. Many times, desperation sends pet owners our way and a change in nutrition makes a huge difference in the pet’s life. Other times, we aren’t so lucky. We are, in no way, trying to make anyone believe that goat’s milk is the answer to all problems, but it’s definitely worth a try! But obviously, nothing can replace excellent care and, of course, prayer!