Pet improvement: Grandmother of the herbal movement

Jane Laulis (Courtesy photo)

Imagine never owning a refrigerator and eating nothing but raw food all your life and you’ll get an idea of the dedication of world-renowned herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy.

“It’s messing up the atmosphere!” she exclaimed.

Juliette was in Burlington, Vermont, to do an interview for Vermont Public Television and I had the pleasure of interviewing her 20 years ago. This woman’s pioneering spirit is considered one of the main inspirations behind holistic veterinary medicine.

This was a spiritual woman who cited the Bible as an excellent reference for information on animals and the land. She loved Welch’s grape juice saying, “The vine is referred to as holy” and talks about the sacredness of the land, as in “milk and honey.”

She was born in 1912 to a very wealthy and well-to-do family in Manchester, England. Then pursued a college education at an elite woman’s school and went on to study veterinary medicine at Manchester and Liverpool universities.

But vet school in the 1930s wasn’t what she expected. Juliette had spent two years studying conventional veterinary medicine and knew it wasn’t the path to take for wellness. She witnessed vivisection and animal experiments in the name of science. Instead of getting better, animals were getting sick and dying from the procedures.

“Dog means ‘caleb’ in Hebrew or ‘all heart.’ They are filled with kindness, love and intelligence and to use experimentation on them is a disgrace,” she bemoaned. Because of this, she used the most natural foods and care she could on her animals.

This visionary left vet school after two years and went on to study, as she said, “With the people that were getting and keeping the animals well.” She traveled Europe to speak with farriers, nomadic tribes, peasants and indigenous people to obtain information that had been passed by word-of-mouth for generations then put it into practice.

She started clinics for distemper infections which cured hundreds of dogs with fasting, herbs and a natural diet that included raw meat and bones. She worked with the dogs of many famous people, such as Douglas Fairbanks and Arthur Guinness.

“When you cook, you kill the essence of the food,” she said. “Fresh herbs should be part of the diet for prevention, but they can also be used medicinally. Dandelion leaves gathered fresh are a wonderful tonic to add to food and natural honey is the greatest heart tonic.”

Her advice for the best use of herbs was to gather them from the fields or grow them yourself then snip them with scissors and consume fresh or dry naturally. She encouraged all parents to teach their children gardening and a love for animals.

“A great example of the problems with modern day care is hoof and mouth disease,” she said. “Our animals are being raised on commercial diets and kept enclosed in pens where they can hardly move. They can’t reach their pastures and in many cases they can’t exercise. This is what causes the disease. It’s destroyed England and the slaughter has broken my heart.

“In India Sir Albert Howard let his cattle rub noses over the fence (socialize) and graze, and they never had hoof & mouth disease. He termed this ‘organic farming’, wrote a book and has become the father of the organic movement,” she added.

Since childhood, Levy was a lover of Afghan hounds and, in the ‘30s, she bred a litter using the natural rearing techniques of raw diet, fresh herbs, abundant exercise and minimal vaccinations. These dogs under the Turkuman kennel name and their descendants have gone on to win many top awards and championships around the world. The first Afghan to win the Hound Group at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show was her Turkuman Nissim’s Laurel, who was also pictured on the cover of Life Magazine after WWII.

A noted author and world traveler, she has a long list of natural care books first published in the 1950’s for dogs, cats, horses, farm animals, children and adults. Her publisher of over 50 years, Faber and Faber, said they’ve received more inquiries on Juliette’s books than even T.S. Eliot. Some of her books are in their sixth edition.

Juliette passed away in 2009 at the age of 96.

Jane Laulis is an avid pet lover. She hosts a pet talk radio show and is involved with pets from research to retail, nutrition to pet food manufacturing. She lives on the coast with her scientist husband, ocean faring dogs, indoor cats, exotic snakes and a charm of hummingbirds. She may be reached at [email protected]

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