It is indeed a dog's life, and Dr. Bob and Susan Goldstein, founders of Earth Animal in Westport, Conn., have made it their life's business to ensure that life is long, happy and healthy.
Earth Animal is not your typical big box pet store. In fact, it's the antithesis of the impersonal, one-size-fits-all-dogs approach to pet care. It features assortments of natural pet foods and treats (some of which are so appealing that a human might sneak a bite), as well as a health solution-oriented center that addresses the specific needs of pets and their "humans." Here, says Susan, "Healers are at work, and not cashiers." There is also an affiliated natural pharmacy, Healing Center for Animals, where Dr. Bob teaches and consults with veterinarians on the benefits of incorporating nutrition into practice.
The couple, who lived in South Salem, NY for 25 years, founded Earth Animal in 1979 after their beloved Golden Retriever, Leigh, adopted from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, became crippled with arthritis at the age of seven. After the Goldsteins changed Leigh's diet to exclusively home-cooked food and administered a regimen of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, his health took an extraordinary turn for the better. He lived until the age of 17.
Leigh, says Susan, was "truly the founder of Earth Animal." Their experience in treating him was responsible for transforming Dr. Bob's veterinary clinic into an integrative – combining holistic and conventional medicine – veterinary practice. "We knew there was a need for holistic healthcare," says Susan. "The experience was the inspiration behind our philosophy, code of ethics, products and services."
The Goldsteins are also authors of two books, "The Goldstein's Wellness and Longevity Program Book – Natural Care for Dogs and Cats," as well as "Integrating Complementary Medicine into Veterinary Practice." This summer, Says Susan, they are expanding Earth Animal into a nationwide wholesale venue so their 35 years of experience can reach thousands more animals.
Dr. Bob decided when he was accepted to medical school that he would rather spend his life treating animals than humans. He then opted instead for veterinary school. Susan knew she would be working with animals at the age of three, when she nursed an injured infant squirrel back to life. "It was a profound event and I knew that my calling or purpose was to help and heal animals," she says.
Susan and Dr. Bob currently cohabitate with Jack Harry, a standard poodle, Pooketta Louise, a boxer bullmastiff mix and MacMillan a parrot. Rather than call themselves "pet owners," Susan instead prefers "pet parents or animal guardians," as ownership of a pet doesn't meld with their philosophy of equanimity with animals. "Animal guardians play a major role in their dogs or cats quality of life by acknowledging the body, mind and spirit, all of which need to be nurtured," says Susan.
Animals, and their human guardians, are all better off with "guardians" like Susan and Bob Goldstein.
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