Animal Advice: Canine columnist Tracie Korol cares about the Whole Dog

9 mins read
Tracie Korol performs Reiki on one of her patients.

Tracie Korol is probably best known to readers of The Island News for her weekly column about dogs called “BowWOW.” In it, she gives practical advice to common behavioral issues facing our Best Friends — as she likes to call our canine pets — and offers holistic approaches on everything from nutrition and exercise to barking and raising a friendly, well-adjusted dog.

Tracie Korol performs Reiki on one of her patients.
Tracie Korol performs Reiki on one of her patients.

Although pets are her passion now, Tracie’s diverse background includes graphic design, retail advertising and being a practicing herbalist.

Born in Pittsburgh, she was raised in Johnstown, Pa., and central Ohio. She lived for a long time in New England before moving to the Lowcountry more than six years ago. In that time, she has written more than 300 articles for the paper.

Tracie has a BFA in graphic design and an MFA in advertising theory. Her first career was as a graphic designer/art director in Ohio. She also had her own firm for 22 years that specialized in industrial and retail print advertising; she’s designed Happy Meal boxes and international retail signage.

She is also certified in canine massage and homeopathy and recently certified in animal nutrition.

“The interesting juxtaposition in these two fields is that I used to BE the person writing the copy and putting the pictures on the dog food bags,” Tracie said. “I know first hand that what you’re buying is hardly ever what you think it is. What is on the bag has nothing to do with what’s in the bag.”

But she left advertising to literally “go to the dogs” designing, building and operating the first community play boarding kennel in Vermont. It was during this time that she really started to notice changes in the health of the dogs that came to the kennel. “I began to see that my dog friends were beginning to develop odd ailments — lupus, myelin sheath disorder, were getting fatter or were routinely coming with more and more medicines. It was not unusual to have 5 out of any 22 dogs be on prednisone and antibiotics at any given time. The why of it all began to bug me,” she recalls.

“I began to study, ask questions, reach out. Mind you, this is pre-internet,” Tracie says. “When I discovered Marty Goldstein in upstate New York, I began to study in earnest and get any certification available.”

Marty became her mentor and stressed whole foods, clean water, exercise, homeopathic remedies, herbal supplements, nutraceuticals, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and energy healing.

“Couple that with my already being a practicing herbalist, I made the acquaintance of Randy Kidd who authored ‘Dr. Kidd’s Herbal Care for Dogs,’ and honed my herbal skills to include animals,” Tracie said. “Along the way I also put myself in front of Richard Pitcairn and Albert Plechner, two of the forerunners in natural animal health, who stress that dogs are what they eat.”

Today, she works with a holistic vet in Aiken providing nutritional counseling for dogs with “dis-ease” for local clients who have tried traditional allopathic treatment and still have itchy, ill, badly behaved dogs.

She also produces REAL FOOD for dogs — a nutritionally complete frozen food for general health and maintenance made from real fruits, vegetables and hormone-free, antibiotic-free proteins.

As an adjunct to that, she also offers home boarding (CouchTime) because some dogs are not suited to kennel — the tinies, the elderly, the medically compromised and the dogs that have no life experience. She believes her yard and many acres provide the best place for a dog to reclaim his inner canine.

“I also as serve as personal chef for a number of dogs that have very specific dietary requirements due to very specific medical impairments,” Tracie adds. “And just because, I will coach dog owners with ‘difficult’ pets in how to achieve a good working relationship with their Best Friends.”

Tracie said one of the most interesting aspects about her profession is seeing the difference between a sick dog and a healthy dog, and how rewarding that change can be for everyone. “It is selfishly gratifying to help a dog go from being an uncomfortable, unhappy, unwell, smelly creature to the dog we all want to have — the dog with a sparkle in his eye, a shiny coat, a carefree sense of being, and what I particularly like, an ornery edge — in a relatively short period of time,” she said. “It is gratifying to see the change in owners, too, when they are no longer stressing about endless, exorbitant vet bills and their chronically sick animal. It makes a big difference, spiritually, in people when they feel that they are contributing to the betterment of their pet’s life instead of blindly turning it over to strangers.”

When it comes to family, Tracie’s mother, Doris, was a clinical dietician who instilled in her at an early age that you are what you eat. “She’s 91 and feisty, so it’s true,” Tracie adds.

Her son Jaren Shafaieh, 30, is a chef at Swank & Swine in Portland, OR, and Tracie said she looks forward to moving out there sometime in the future.

But for now she says most of her community efforts are for and in Sheldon, SC. “It’s a pretty hip little place with pretty hip people, all in all,” she said.

The philosophy behind her work is simple: “Our dogs hold a very special place in our physical and spiritual lives. They have not hurt us, have not let us down, have not criticized us. At the same time, they are woven into almost every moment of our lives. They are our best teachers of mindfulness: paying attention to their surroundings with a focus we’ll never know, living in a world of scent, movement, and adventure. They feel joy and happiness yet also frustration, fear, anger, disappointment, hunger, pain, discomfort. But they do not carry those stories. (This is the crux.) It is because of this gift to us that we must make their lives more complete. If I can help people understand how easy it is to be mindful and caring toward their dog — through allowing a dog to be a dog, through a diet that will give them the vitality to be the best dog, learning a new way to communicate effectively — in return, I am happy.”

Tracie’s goal is to teach more people how easy and how much cheaper it is to feed their Best Friends better food. She will do one-on-ones, group workshops, shopping/teaching expeditions or will just make it for folks who are convinced of the benefit but have no knife skills.  Delivery is free.

Contact Tracie Korol at 843-846-0804, email is letstalk@wholedog.biz, www.wholedog.biz.

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