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Are Trump Supporters the Kids in the Middle?

So often lately, I recall the days when I taught high school and there were so many kids in so many classrooms who were lost in the shuffle - not popular, not intellectual, not bad people, but not noticed or acknowledged because they hever had a chance to "shine." They weren't on the homecoming court, didn't get invited to prom, were not athletic stars or scholars. They were just regular kids. They came to school and followed instructions and did their work and got passing grades and moved on. They were the kids in the middle. The forgotten ones. It is dangerous to forget about children.

Case in point. For five years, I worked as part of a teaching team, working with at-risk teens. We had the same students for three years in a row. The first year, there was a girl - let's call her Tina. Tina was not a brilliant student. She wasn't a problem. She was easy to overlook. Then, during her second year in our program, she became a terror. She disrupted all of our classes to the point that nobody could teach or learn. I called her into my office and sat down across from her and said, "Please tell me what's going on."

"I'll tell you exactly what's going on, Miss Johnson," Tina shouted. "I been going to school for ten years and nobody cares. Teachers mark me here when I'm absent and absent when I'm here. They don't even know my name. But, guess what? Everybody knows my name now, don't you?"

That afternoon, I met with the teaching team. I brought our roster of 250 students. I said, "I'm going to read off the names. And I want us to see if we can remember who these students are - their skin color, their eye color, whether they wear glasses or braces, what their voices sound like." And I started down the list. Everybody identitied the A students. Easy. And we knew all the trouble makers. Easier still. But about 30 - 40% of the names were not immediately recognized. We had to remind each other who they were - if any of us knew. Those were the Kids in the Middle.

We immediately created a plan to begin spreading our attention more equally, making sure that every one of our students were seen - and heard. We made sure every voice was included in every class discussion. We reminded ourselves to acknowledge and thank the students who cooperated - instead of allowing our focus to be distracted by those who didn't. We saw those students. We invited them to speak. We listened. By changing our own behavior, we changed the entire dynamic of our program profoundly. We began to see genuine enthusiasm for learning and plans for the future from all of our students, not just those few at the front of the class.

Unfortunately, most of the Kids in the Middle continue to go unnoticed all the way through school. If they are not part of a special program, they are ignored. They learn to check the correct answer on the multiple choice test and move on to the next grade level without ever being taught how to articulate their own ideas -- because in a school system that values standardized tests above all else, the Kids in the Middle quickly learn that their ideas have no value.Their opinions don't matter. They don't count.


Fast forward a decade or two and those kids are now adults and they have jobs and kids and friends and big tvs and SUVs and houses. Still, they feel a sense of bitterness and emptiness...but they aren't sure why. They feel cheated somehow. They feel angry. And along comes a predator such as Donald Trump who is quick to recognize weakness and anger and a desire for attention. He knows how the bitter folks feel because he feels the same way. He is one of them. He had money, but he had no real education in critical thinking or logic. He was never acknowledged as a person - he was his father's son, insulated by family and money. Donald feels cheated when he sees his peers achieving things he cannot achieve, regardless of how much money his family has in the bank. Donald is very very angry. He never gets to really "shine."  And he expresses his anger and bitterness and he tells those bitter people - who were the Kids in the Middle -- that they should blame the intellectuals and the people who are fulfilled and successful. He plants the idea that if somebody else is successful, it means YOU are a failure. Successful people know that success breeds success, so they encourage others. But people who are not successful believe there is a finite amount of success. So they must try to hold others down instead of lifting each other up.

And here were are today. Those grown-up Kids in the Middle don't understand how so many people can say that Black Lives Matter because they don't believe their own lives matter, in spite of the privilege they may enjoy. In fact, they are angry to be told that they have privilege. Being privileged makes them angrier because that privilege never gave them anything of real value. And they look around and they see successful black people which makes them crazy -- how did those "inferior" people succeed when they didn't have privilege or power? It is just not fair (they think). They are heartbroken and angry because they are white and have so-called privilege, but they don't feel happy and respected and fulfilled.They feel cheated because nobody knows their names.

America needs to take a page from our lesson plans for at-risk students. Instead of bemoaning their stupidity, we need to tap into their intelligence. instead of trying to find ways to convince them to hate fascism, we need to convince them to trust in democracy. Instead of lumping them all into one sad category, we need to see each of those hate-fueled people as a human being deserving of dignity - no matter how undignified they behave. We need to see them and hear them and accept them as they are. People who don't like and accept themselves find it impossible to like and accept others. When you love yourself, you can tolerate people who disagree with you. You can even accept - if not celebrate - their success.The only way to convince people to love themselves is to love them first. Show them how.

We need to spread love and joy and acceptance and respect - especially to those people who don't know what to do with those gifts when they are offered. They are not used to feeling valued.They think it's a trick. We must convince them that it isn't a trick. We must convince them that Joe Biden is sincere. We really can have a country where people respect each other, even when they disagree. And the Kids in the Middle can be part of that country. They are a part of the country already. They just haven't felt like part of the country, because the country didn't pay attention to them. We are paying attention now. We need to see them. We need to hear them. We need to know their names. Then, perhaps, they will be willing to rejoin a country where the rule of law and the Constitution have meaning. Where criminal justice reform and tolerance and compassion and empathy are not scary ideas that lift others above them - but ideas that lift all of us together.


And that's what's on my mind today.

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Save the USPS

I just drafted a letter to send to my Senators and Representatives, urging them to take action immediately to protect the U.S. Postal Service. It is actually a federal crime to willfully delay or destroy U.S. mail - but that is exactly what Donald Trump and Postmaster Dejoy are doing. And they are doing it in plain sight and admitting their crimes.


I am willing to overlook a lot of things because I realized that politicians are always going to make some decisions and take some actions that are in their own best interest rather than that of the country. I'm sure there are a few stellar souls who always put country first, but they are definitely rare. However, I am not willing to overlook, rationalize or excuse blatantly criminal behavior that is not only criminal in it's action but criminal in it's intent - to prevent Americans from exercising their right to vote by mail.


If you would like to read the U.S. Code, here is a linkL


And I am attaching a jpeg copy of the letter I drafted in the hopes that you will copy it or draft your own and send it to your own representatives. I am going to call them, as well. And I am going to call other Senators and Representatives from other states - I'm going to call at least a dozen who I have seen on TV and who have demonstrated integrity and honor. It is my hope that those people will at least glance at my letter or listen to my phone call and realize that I may not be one of their constituents, but I am their neighbor.


According to news reports, some states' attorneys general are filing charges to prevent the destruction of the USPS. And protests from American citizens have stopped some states from removing drop boxes. But that isn't the biggest danger. The big danger is the removal of sorting machines that allow one machine to process mail as fast as 30 humans can do it. That's important. And we need to be adding MORE sorting machines in preparation for the election, not less.


So, my hope is that you will be inspired by this blog to take your own action. Together, we can make a difference. We can convince our elected representatives to take action on our behalf. We can insist that they do their jobs and listen to the people who elected them.


Thanks for reading this and thanks for whatever action you can take.

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Virus Update

(I am updating this blog today, in August, based on what has happened and how my thinking has envolved.)


I've been trying to remain calm amidst the insanity surrounding the coronavirus, but Jeepers Creepers! people need to stop and take a breath. Yes, the virus is serious. Yes, we need to take reasonable precautions. But we don't need to buy 400 rolls of toilet paper or wear a gas mask.


And we don't need to have every single media outlet focus on the latest virus "news" 24/7 and scaring people to the point that they can't think straight.  Fear doesn't help anybody. Fear is dangerous. When people are frightened, they are easy to persuade to do things they would not normally do. Frightened people are willing to accept unacceptable behavior from their government and other authority figures. Why does Putin need a warship, for example, to deliver "medical supplies" to the US? Since when has Russia been at the forefront of medical supplies? Oh, perhaps since there are trillions of dollars to be doled out due to the virus. 


Our chances of surviving the virus are still better than your chances of dying from it -- but people are dying at an alarming rate. That is heartbreaking. But it goes beyond heartbreak to something much worse. I believe it is criminal to misinform people and encourage them to endanger themselves, their families, their friends, and everybody else they pass on the street. And it is definitely criminal to encourage parents to expose their children to possible death in order to try to improve the economy by forcing people back to work, regardless of whether it is safe.  


I mentioned in my original post that I thought we needed to keep the numbers in perspective.  There are about 331 million Americans. Our government reports on mortality for show that about 3,000,000 of us die each year. At least 600,000 of us die EACH YEAR from heart disease. Cancer kills another 600,000. COPD and strokes take another 320,000. Taking prescription medications as directed kills 128,000.  Alzheimer's - 122,000. Diabetes - 85,000.  Flu & pneumonia - 59,000.  (Please don't send me angry comments about my math - I rounded to the nearest 1000 to keep things simple). 


Compared to those statistics, the Coronavirus numbers were tiny-- at first. Minuscule even. 42,000 deaths to date when I first published this blog in April. Those lives matter, of course. But today, in August, there are more than 160,000 deaths. I still think we need to keep the numbers in perspective, so we don't scare people into depression and suicide. But we also need to encourage people to maintain social distance intead of encouraging them to gather in large groups and compain about their rights being violated. Rights are important. But refusing to wear a mask is saying, essentially, I have the right to endanger the health of others for my own personal comfort.


At first, I didn't want to wear a mask, because we had no cases in our county and homemade masks don't protect you from catching the virus. But as the virus continued to rage and ravage America, I realized that I needed to wear a mask for three reasons. First, I could possibly come into contact with the virus and pass it on to somebody else. Second, people are frightened already and seeing people without a mask in public makes them more frightened - high levels of stress make you more vulnerable to illness. Third, I want to set a good example for children who need to see good leadership at this scary time.


Chemical/biological warfare is a reality today. In addition to spending our time and money on this one virus, we need to be looking at the bigger picture of how we can protect our country against similar threats - and new ones that we haven't yet considered. And if we don't protect our voting rights and process, we may not have a country to worry about - at least, not a country that we will recognize as ours. 


It does seem that small businesses should be allowed to open, when it is safe - on a town by town basis. Bankrupting thousands or millions of Americans is not going to help the economy. Small businesses in many placess are being crushed - many beyond recovery. What good does it do to take measures to survive a virus that may never appear if it means the people will be impoverished forever once it's safe to breathe again?


Why can't we do what some countries have done to successfully combat the virus - put the responsibility where it belongs - on the people? If we use our heads and consider everybody's health and well-being, we could avoid a lot of the collateral damage that is occuring right now.


OK. I have had my second say on the topic.


Oh, no. Wait. I forgot one thing. Some people laugh at the idea of positive thinking, but I believe (based on experience and research) that your mental outlook has a tremendous affect on your health. If you think about illness all the time, you have a much higher chance of becoming ill. If you focus on maintaining a healthy body and mind, you have a much better chance of enjoying good health.  


I wish you good health, peace, calm, compassion and moments of intense joy.  

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An Open Letter to Congress

Hey, Congress!

Are you listening and watching? I'm not talking about daily debacles created by the ridiculous behavior of Mr. T -- everybody watches him because, like gory auto accidents, it's hard to turn away from the spectacle. But you need to turn away, so you can see what is happening in the country you are bound by oath and honor to represent. Americans are angry. We are frightened. We are worried. We are embarrassed. We are ashamed. Innocent children are DYING in our country because they are being held in cages in order to punish their parents who were desperate to escape inhumane living conditions.

We are watching our democracy being systematically dismantled by a President who honors Putin and dishonors American heroes, who honors dictators and dishonors venerable members of our government, who clearly cares more about whether he drew a line on an outdated weather map than he does about PEOPLE DYING from a deadly tornado.

We are afraid to go shopping or to the movies or out to dinner because we might be attacked by white supremacist terrorists who have decided they need to kill innocent Americans in order to get ride of the "imaginary immigrant hordes" who are supposedly attacking our borders.

We are being held hostage by lunatics with assault rifles because Congress has failed to take any action to protect us. Americans are united, across economic, racial, ethnic, and political lines -- WE WANT YOU TO PASS SENSIBLE GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION. It couldn't be more clear. And if Mitch McConnell won't allow Congress to vote, then Democrats must to something to make that vote happen. If it means impeaching the President, then do it. If it means something else, then do that. But you need to do SOMETHING. If you don't take action now, you don't deserve to be members of Congress. You don't deserve to hold any public office because you don't have the integrity or courage to represent or protect your employers, the American people.

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How I Became My Own Doctor

On July 7th of this year, I happened upon a YouTube video that changed my life - literally. Prior to that date, I had done a lot of reading, research and experimentation with organic foods, quality supplements and essential oils. Although I was pretty healthy for a 65-year-old woman, I found myself gaining weight just around my middle. I had arthritis in my hands, dangerously high blood sugar, low thyroid, and occasional insomnia, along with lots of nighttime bathroom visits. Many of my symptoms seemed to be related to diabetes and fatty liver, although my weight was considered normal, so I went online to research natural ways to combat a fatty liver and diabetes. Most of the videos advised me to do things I was already doing: no sodas, no wheat, no refined sugar, lots of veggies, etc. But then a video popped up on the right of my screen with the title "Your Liver - Your Project Manager." Intrigued, I clicked on the link. Every day, I am grateful that I did because that video, narrated by Barbara O'Neill who runs the Misty Mountain Health Retreat in Australia, taught me how to be my own doctor. Literally. After viewing the first one, I searched out every video I could find and I watched about twenty of them. Inspired by Barbara's straightforward manner, her sense of humor, her obvious sincerity, and the fact that after having six children, she has a youthful, supple figure, I decided to take her advice. I went to my kitchen and gathered all the foods that were packaged -- even the expensive organic gluten-free foods -- and took them to the local food bank. And I kept the organic eggs, quinoa, lentils, broccoli, carrots, celery, zucchini, avocados, strawberries, blueberries, acacia fiber, and sea salt.

I stopped putting chopped dates (too sugary) in my morning quinoa pancake. I started putting a dab of sea salt on my tongue each time I drank a glass of water during the day. I made a poultice out of grated raw potato and taped it to my jaw where I had an infected tooth scheduled for a root canal. I grated some raw garlic and taped it to the soles of my feet. I sprinkled cayenne pepper on all my food and I made a poultice to place on my neck (I didn't keep it on because it started itching). Each day, I steamed a big pot of veggies for dinner and added a generous spoon of butter and another spoon of coconut oil, along with some sea salt, cayenne pepper and sesame seed sprinkles. When I popped some organic popcorn, I added a tablespoon each of melted butter, coconut oil and olive oil, along with a dash of cayenne pepper and a liberal dose of sea salt. I started adding a squirt of lemon juice to my morning glass of water, and I drank two cups of green tea every day.

Within four days, I could see changes. My painful tooth infection was gone (later confirmed by my dentist). My hands no longer ached from arthritis. I made one bathroom visit during the night even when I drank water just before bed. I was so excited, it was easy to stick with the new healthy program. I followed Barbara's advice about getting 15 minutes of sun every day and going out in the early morning and evening to bathe my face in the rays to get my daily dose of Vitamin D3 and to reset my circadian rhythm.

Within a few weeks, the fat around my stomach had melted away. My bowel movements were quick, easy and regular. My insomnia was gone and I woke up each day shortly after sunrise feeling immediately alert. My body temp went from its normal 95 or 96 to 98.4 -- something that had never happened before. I always had cold hands and feet and took nutritional supplements to try to boost my thyroid. I stopped taking all supplements and gradually added back a good multi for women (I take Eve gel caps by NOW Foods), and I take one fish oil and one primrose oil cap at night which relieves dry eyes and helps regular hormones. Oh, yes, I took Barbara's advice and ordered some high-quality wild yam cream that I apply very sparingly before bed each night. I never have hot flashes or other menopausal-related symptoms.

Now, four months later, I have lost 10 pounds. My stomach is flat and my thighs have lost the extra weight. My blood sugar is normal (confirmed by my doctor). I no longer have any arthritis. My body temp is normal, even at night - no more cold hands and feet. (If I feel cold, I just take a bit of cayenne pepper mixed with coconut oil and manuka honey and it quickly fixes the problem.) I don't get hungry between meals. I don't crave sugar. I have energy to do projects around the house and I don't wake up with numb hands in the middle of the night after using a drill or a hammer for a few hours. My skin is clear, my eyes are bright, my vision seems better and I no longer need to take a supplement to combat depression. Once in a while I take an L-tryptophan if I feel my mood is slipping due to cloudy days, but otherwise, I feel much more balanced and like "my old self."

If you have any of these health issues, or if you just want to feel better, do yourself a favor and check out Barbara O'Neill's videos, books and web site. In 30 years of reading and research about nutrition and health, I can say that she is the best of the best. She isn't trying to sell products and become rich. Her goal, clearly, is to teach people how to heal themselves. And I am so grateful to have the benefit of her knowledge and experience.

Thanks, Barb!!!

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Dr. Ford was too damned NICE!

After eight years of active duty military service (U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines), and a dozen years working with gangsters and tough guys, I learned that when bullies sense fear or weakness, they pounce harder. And that's exactly what happened to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she testified before Congress. She acted like a nice little girl. She thanked them for listening to her. She spoke in a soft voice. She was fair and even-tempered and transparent... in short, she was too damned nice. And so the Republican bullies dismissed her as a compliant victim. Brett Kavanaugh on the other hand, pitched a fit. He shouted and cried and rubbed his nose with his hand - no tissues for him - he's a tough guy. He insulted Senators, especially the female ones, signalling to anybody watching from the White House that he was a 'real man.' He demonstrated his sense of privilege. He felt supremely sorry for himself. He wasn't on a job interview, in his mind. He was demanding his due. How dare anybody question him?


The Republican bullies tested Dr. Ford and her lawyers even prior to the hearing, to see if they could push her around, and they learned that they could. They made demands and she complied. They gave a tiny bit of ground to her lawyers to signal their intention to play nice. And they fell for it. If Ford and her legal team had said, "We want an FBI investigation and if we don't get one, we are going to file civil criminal charges in Maryland," the Republicans might have taken them seriously. But they didn't, and so they didn't.


Here's why I believe niceness doesn't work. I grew up in rural smalltown Pennsylvania and knew nothing of the world when I graduated from high school. I lasted a month at college. It was just too scary and the frat boys were mean. So I went home. My mother, who had never travelled outside of our county, urged me to join the Navy and see the world. "I think they're letting the girls drive the boats now, Honey," she said. "And you will learn to be a journalist and they will pay for you to go to college."  A dutiful daughter, I went. Boot camp wasn't that bad. But as soon as I reported to my first duty station in Norfolk, the harassment began. I was called a cunt, a bitch, and a beaver. That was just the enlisted men. My executive officer, J.B. Waddington, the Third, verbally assaulted me daily with sexist jokes, innuendos and insults. When I protested, everybody laughed. I was the only woman in the office, of course. So I thought perhaps without an audience, Commander W would be nicer. I requested permission to speak to him in his office. I explained that his jokes and comments were hurtful and upsetting. "I'm the XO," he said. "When I tell a joke, you laugh." Ooooo...kay.....


After about six months of daily verbal and emotional abuse, Commander W made an extremely rude comment about me in front of a group of NATO officers from around the world. The other officers looked shocked. Commander W gloated, proud of his rudeness. Enough. I stormed into our office, swept everything off my desk onto the floor and shouted, "I am not a dog and I will not be treated like one. I have had enough. I quit." And I marched to the barracks to await my fate. This happened on a Friday, so all weekend long I listened to my fellow WAVES warn me that I was headed for the brig or a dishonorable discharge. Frightened but determined, I said, "If they lock me up or kick me up, I'll write a book about them." They convinced me to go to work Monday so I wouldn't be charged as AWOL. When I arrived at the office, all the men looked big-eyed and serious. Nobody greeted me. Nobody smiled. A few seconds later, Commander W walked into the room carrying a dozen red roses. He placed them on my desk and said, "I'm sorry for the way I spoke to you. It won't happen again."  Of course, as soon as he left the room, one of the sailors whispered, "Stupid fucking bitch. If that had been a guy, he'd have gotten busted for sure."  My Chief, a seasoned vet, called me aside and said, "You just learned a valuable lesson. If somebody is out of line, they can't bust you for reacting without stepping on their own tail. Remember that, but don't take advantage of it."


A few years later, while working in a radio-tv station in the Philippines, an Air Force aviator strutted past me at work. I was removing copy from a teletype machine that was located under the counter. When I bent down to retrieve the papers, the pilot whacked me on the ass with his clipboard. Hard. I stood up and said, "I don't know you, Sir, and I don't appreciate being hit. Please keep your hands to yourself." He laughed and walked into an adjoining office. A few minutes later, he reappeared and again smacked me on the ass as he passed by. This time I was prepared. I doubled up my fist and socked him on the jaw. I was wearing a small diamond ring that cut his chin. He put his hand over the cut and said, "I could court martial you for that, WAVE." On the verge of tears, I managed to hold them back. "You hit me first," I said. "That's aggravated assault, any way you slice it." Then I stomped out of the building and ran around to the back where I could huddle in the shadows and give way to my tears. Shaking, I returned to work a few minutes later. The officer was gone and I never heard another word.


Years later, after earning my college degree, I was encouraged to attend Officer Training School where I graduated first in my class and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC. Immediately, one of my senior officers, a captain, began a nonstop campaign of sexual harrassment. My supervisors, all men of course, informed me that he was wrong but that he was my superior officer and I could not even look at him disrespectfully when he made lewd comments. When his harassment grew more serious and I felt I was in physical danger, I resigned my commission. I loved my job and I was good at it, but it wasn't worth my life. I wrote a book about my experiences in the early 1980's. Editors responded by saying, "This is a good book and well-written, but we don't believe it. It may be true, but people won't believe it." Sigh. Now, thirty years later, some people would believe me -- but not the Men in Charge.


Those are just three of many many incidents. Each time, I learned that when I was reasonable, polite and "nice," the abuse continued. But when I expressed outrage and justifiable anger, the bullies recognized the emotions - they were looking in the mirror.  And so, I maintain that if Dr. Ford had arrived at the hearing and began by saying, "I am outraged and insulted by the treatment I have received at the hands of this committee and at the misogynistic remarks that have been made to news reporters about me in advance of my testimony. I have been prejudged and dismissed as someone whose voice is not important. But let me tell you that my voice is important and it will be heard...." And if she had shouted and demanded justice and asserted that unacceptable behavior would not longer be acceptable, things might have gone differently. Senator Harris might have stood up and applauded. Senator Corker might have nodded his head. And Mr. Hatch and Mr. Grassley and Mr. Graham (I won't call them Senators because they don't act senatorial) would have muttered, "Stupid bitch," but they would have taken her seriously.


As this is being written, Senator Flake has just demanded a one-week delay and an FBI investigation. His voice is important and he should be heard. My fingers are crossed that the Senate does the right thing. But, either way, my voice will not be silenced. And neither will the voices of all the "bitches" who will continue protesting and who will be voting in November.

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Canine Cancer Cure

This will be a short one. I just wanted to share my recent experience battling Mast Cell Tumors on my little dog, Nellie. She developed four tumors last year from environmental allergies. We moved to a warmer climate and she was fine for a few months, then developed seasonal allergies and 7 tumors on her muzzle, chin, and back foot. Her eyes were runny and she couldn't breathe well - woke up every night choking for air. Yikes!
I have used herbs to cure allergies for myself successfully, so I decided to see if I could find something to help her, since medications didn't. After many hours of research, I found some articles online about herbal and nutritional treatments for dogs and cats with cancer, specifically MCT. Several websites mentioned the same herbs, so I did a search and came up with two products from Only Natural Pet online. I ordered Aller Free 7 liquid allergy drops which contain 7 herbs including stinging nettle, licorice and mullein. I also ordered Aller Free Advanced Support chews with more herbs and omega3, etc.
Four days have gone by and the tumors are gone. No more scratching or wheezing. No more drippy eyes. Yay!

Just a note about food. I bought all the expensive premium and organic foods - but they can't match home cooked food. I settled on a recipe that is easy, nutritious, delicious and healthy. It consists of 50% turkey, lean pork & grass-fed beef, 25% broccoli, carrots and peas, 25% organic brown rice. I cook everything, toss it in the food processor, add some vitamins (I put in two capsules of Naturelo vitamins - everything in them is good for dogs), and one capsule of probiotics. Then a sprinkle of L-gluatmine (amino acid) powder which heals intestines. I store it in the frig and add the Aller Free chews, chopped up. Yum!
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