A dramatic insight into canine behaviour and the discovery of integrated veterinary medicine

It was my fault……. I’d left them alone when we’d always had a feeling that Basil, our rescue collie cross, was overly wary of our two year old son.

Basil came flying downstairs, ears flat with a crestfallen look on his face just as my son let out an awful scream. I rushed upstairs faster than Basil had come down, to find our son had been bitten on his chubby elbow – no blood, just a hole or two and a heartrending wailing that I couldn’t stop however hard I tried.

A kindly neighbour took us to the hospital where a nurse passing our cubicle just gently rubbed our son’s back and, at last, silenced the cries. To his credit, the doctor decided against antibiotics, but we were told to keep an eagle eye out for any signs of infection.

​Thankfully, there were none and our son made a full recovery as well as receiving a deeper insight into canine behaviour than most small children ever get.

​It turned out that Basil was starting with an ear infection and, as far as it’s possible to gather information from a toddler, my son had been trying to fuss him. He must have had Basil cornered and the dog lashed out with a single bite as a way of asking to be left alone. Being so young, my son wouldn’t have understood any calming signals Basil may have given to diffuse the situation. We had always been careful regarding their interactions as Basil had very clear boundaries. However,  I had taken my eye off the ball. My son was left with a lifelong scar, and we as parents and dog owners were left feeling very guilty.



Something had to be done. 

As you can imagine, we were given a lot of advice – most of it suggesting that Basil should be put to sleep. Indeed, our vet at the time was adamant that this is what he would do if Basil was his dog. We refused, however, and Basil stayed with my sympathetic parents for a while until we figured out what was best. When he came back home, we had a strict common-sense routine about who was allowed to interact with Basil and how.

This turned out to be a complete success, but our immediate task at the time was to find a new vet.

Forced to think outside the box, I searched Yellow Pages and other sources of information – remember those pre-internet days? I happened to see an advert for a homeopathic vet and reading up to find out a little more, I rang for an appointment. Thankfully it was well worth the hundred mile round trip. Basil responded positively to a more holistic approach and we gained a greater insight into what was going on with him.

It’s possible that Basil had had a bad experience with small children before he was rescued off the streets of London and sent to Battersea Dogs Home where we were to fall in love with that gorgeous face.  Or perhaps he was never socialised with uninhibited toddlers. Whatever it was, something in him manifested in this sudden on-off anger switch underpinned by fear.

A constitutional remedy was prescribed for his general physiological, emotional and mental makeup including the fear aggression he demonstrated. Things improved dramatically – although we were always careful to remain sensibly vigilant.

We carried on seeing the homeopathic vet and although we eventually moved too far away for a round trip to be feasible, the homeopathic vet worked alongside our new open-minded local
vet to look after Basil’s health for the rest of his life. Using a more integrated approach with homeopathy as a cornerstone of treatment enabled Basil to live until he was nearly 17.

So, no harm done. Instead, it allowed us as family to gain a greater understanding of our dog and to discover a more varied and successful approach to his health care.

24 years on, our son still has Basil’s scar but has always loved dogs!


The day Basil came, without bidding, to snuffle his nose into our son’s hands was one of the best days of his life.  

Homeopathic vets

are fully trained in conventional medicine with further qualifications in homeopathy. Other holistic treatments may also be offered such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy, massage therapies or herbal medicine. More information and a directory of vets registered with the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, BAHVS, can be found here.

Isobel Hunt

Isobel is an active CAM4animals supporter along with her Jack Russell who has integrated veterinary care. She has a background in wildlife conservation and writing, and is passionate about the importance of addressing environmental issues.