This post was inspired by Ainsley, who posted the following question on my entry about Coprophagia. I thought I’d answer here rather than in the comments section in case others may be interested in the discussion:
“Of the 5 dogs currently at my place, I have two poop eaters and have been looking into the causes and like you, am not satisifed with the generic explanations given by most. I would be very interested in hearing more about how you would proceed with a constitutional “tune up” and what might considered a carefully selected constitutional homeopathic remedy as mentioned above.”
One thing I am learning with homeopathy is that it is best not to fixate on any particular symptom when trying to select a remedy for constitutional treatment. Rather, you need to look at the entire individual and select a remedy that really fits the essence of that individual. By essence, I mean personality, temperament, tendencies, and habits, and not necessarily any specific symptom. Especially not very general ones, such as ‘itchy’ or ‘hyper.’
Of course, specific symptoms are also very important, but they should be looked at after you nail down the individual’s “essence.” Often you will find a few remedies that seem to fit, and that’s where specific symptoms can help identify the most helpful one.
Mira taught me this as I was focusing too hard on her specific symptoms and not her overall essence. More specifically, I was looking at Mira’s reactiveness and spookiness and looking up all sorts of rubrics around “fear of…”. I evaluated her as having plenty of classic ‘rabies vaccinosis symptoms,’ such as fear of confinment, fear of strangers, fear of black dogs, etc. etc. So naturally I was looking up all the fear listings and rabies remedies. At various times I gave her quite a few different ‘rabies remedies’ (Belladonna, Stramonium, Lyssin, Hyos etc.). Each one helped to varying degrees, but nothing seemed to truly cure her, or even hold for very long. I was beginning to think that cure – or even improvement – might not be possible.
Then one day I read a post on a homeopathy list I’m on which was discussing the essence of remedies. The poster, a very experienced homeopath, gave the following description of Sulphur as an example:
“Obstinate, selfish, too lazy to toilet in the proper place, demanding and egotistical (wanting attention inappropriately)”
The second I read this I thought wow! This is Mira! She’s very self-centered, I often describe her as stubborn, she was pottying in the house without any concern, and boy can she be demanding of attention, often through inappropriate behaviour (pushing the other dogs away and wanting to be petted, getting into trouble, barking, putting her little nose everywhere it shouldn’t be and so on).
Now, nothing in this talks about “fear.” But then I realized that Mira is not really a fearful dog. In fact, about 98% of the time she’s actually very confident. She has a bunch of fears, and when she encounters them she barks her little head off, then gets over it within seconds. In fact, when I describe them that way, I’m not even sure she’s really experiencing fear. It’s more like being startled and then needing to bitch about it. I was focusing all my attention on the annoying stuff I wanted to go away (the reactiveness) but that is only really a small portion of who she is. Plus I may have been misinterpreting the cause (fear or something else?). This is the danger of trying to figure out what’s going on in a dog’s head!
I gave her a dose of Sulphur to see what effect it had on her, and was astounded to see the dramatic change in her almost immediately. For one, she immediately stopped pooping in the house. She also stopped reacting to everything. I really hit the nail on the head with that one – at long last – and the changes held for a very long time. In fact, she held steady for over 6 months, until her latest heat cycle which has thrown her out of balance again.
Heat cycles are apparently very stressful on the body and as a result, will cause any remaining symptoms to resurface. This is one of the reasons I am keeping her intact – her heat cycles are wonderful indicator of what’s going on deep down. Mira has had two heat cycles now; the first one – which came very late, also a symptom of Sulphur – brought out all sorts of issues. She pretty much went back to her crazy puppy self. That’s when I discovered how well Sulphur helped her. This latest cycle (she just cycled over the holidays) was dramatically different. She still has some symptoms that have come back, but much, much milder. In fact, really the only thing I’m noticing is that she’s a bit quicker to bark at things, and she pooped in the house once or twice. I am going to dose her again tonight and see if that settles things.
One word of caution – Sulphur is a remedy that may seem to fit almost all individuals. It is one that can cause problems if given inappropriately or too often. Please don’t dose your dog based on what I have written here. There’s a lot more to selecting a remedy that what I presented in that short blurb about its essence. Homeopathy is not harmless and a poorly selected remedy can cause a lot of problems, as I learned with Hannah (read this for the details on how Sulphur made Hannah worse, and that the problem I was trying to treat was in fact caused by a remedy I gave her two years earlier!)
Another thing with Sulphur is that it often is used to ‘open up’ a case. While Mira does seem to embody the essence of Sulphur in many ways, like I said, it is a very broad remedy. We might get to a point where it no longer improves her and it is time to move on.
To get back to Ainsley’s question, I would not specifically focus on the “poop eating” as means of selecting a remedy. Rather, I would look at the dog as a whole and do my best to figure out what that dog needs to get back into balance. I always look to nutrition as the first step (raw diet of a variety of meats and organs), but if that is already taken care of, then homeopathy is my next step. If you are not a classical homeopath, then it is best to find someone who is and have them work with you to find the essence of your dog and select the correct remedy. My method of hit and miss, trial and error working on my own is slow (three years now of study and courses), often ineffective, and can occasionally be counterproductive or even harmful.
Once the dog’s life force is in better balance, the poop eating should disappear of its own accord. I saw this with Hannah when she was being constitutionally treated by a professional homeopath. She was an obsessive stool eater who stopped literally overnight when the correct remedy was selected. I recall that the homeopath did not focus on the stool eating at all, which finally makes sense to me.
A final note: It’s often not until I need to break things down that I realize things that I should have recognized sooner. Hannah’s stool eating habit came back after her last heat cycle. Why did I not remember that until now? I will be reviewing her case history to see what remedy helped her with this in the past, and if it still fits today. I’ll be sure to post what I come up with.