A Birthday…


I woke up this morning, 6am with the sun, rolled over to the side and looked at the dimly lit picture of my sweet boy’s face that I have framed there. Today is Cody’s birthday. He would have been a young 9 years old. At 9 a healthy Labrador would be a happy and still energetic guy, maybe just starting to feel his age but also mentally perfect, that sweet and affectionate and always good natured dog that only a Labrador can become. It is not lost on me that we missed these wonderful years together.


As I look around my house this morning I realize how much he is still a part of my life. My painting in the living room, my tattoo on my left foot of his left foot, the framed pictures hanging and placed everywhere, his ashes, his leash that Oscar uses now every day, and some of his toys that still have a life of their own. But some of the more important little reminders are in the things that are outside of my bubble, and maybe they are not so little after all.



This week our tap water wreaks of bleach. I find this ironic that it is happening THIS week. This happens periodically here in Florida. The Palm Beach County Water Utilities Dept treats the water supply with large amounts of chemical “to flush the system and make it safe for drinking”. To me, this is poison. My kitchen faucet smells like a public swimming pool. I not only use this water for cooking but also to bathe in. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and absorbs the water you bathe in… How can this chlorine water be good for you? Your skin and hair? Brushing your teeth and washing your face, getting in your eyes. Let alone to drink it… This is why in my house, we do not drink our tap water here. Bottled water only in this house for us and the animals.

Thank you Cody for that lesson.


They also just sprayed our neighborhood for weeds and mosquitoes. I was driving home from Publix early one morning last week with the windows of my car open (this time of year that can only happen before 8am) and i could smell this sweet orangish chemical smell. As i got closer to my street it got stronger. As i turned my corner there he was. A tractor-like contraption with a guy on the back with a hose pumping a cloud of the sweet pungent Agent Orange all over the canal embankment, and into the air. I could not close my windows fast enough! This set into motion Oscar not being allowed over anywhere near that area until after a heavy rain. These poor ducks, ibis, limpkins, herons and various other wildlife that call that area home… Exposed to this toxic unnatural killer. It saddens me…


Cody changed my life. He caused me to think further than buying his food cheaply and conveniently at a grocery store. Trusting that some other entity or corporation had his best interest and health in mind when they made his food from scraps and filler. He caused me to think further about what went into his body, what he was exposed to, and in turn what I am exposed to as well. How i fuel MY body. He set me on this path to change my life and career. In this way I still honor him every day.


I do not “celebrate” the day Cody passed. That anniversary was roughly two weeks ago. That was one of the hardest days and weekends of my life. I acknowledge it, and I did. Privately. But I do celebrate the day he entered this world to be my loving companion for those very special 7 years we spent together. He was my reason for living for a long time when i had no one else to come home to. My reason for getting up in the morning and seeing the day, exercising and experiencing, getting my blood moving, watching the birds. He was my reason for shopping, spoiling him with toys and treats. And my buddy on those quiet nights when all i wanted to do was chill out at home. He listen to me without judgment, and never left my side no matter where I went.


I will miss him forever, but i know he finished what he had to do here. We were meant to find each other, affect each other, change each others lives. He showed me what it was to have unconditional love, and showed me how to care for something so selflessly that I did not know I had it in myself. He opened my eyes to things I was not aware of previously, and had his cancer not happened I still might be blindly walking through this life. I am so incredibly thankful of the time we spent together. Some beings do not need as many years as others to complete their mission, fulfill their destiny.

Happy Birthday Cody, I love you more than words can express and I miss you every single day… You are the best there is or ever was…


~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on July 15, 2014.

7 Responses to “A Birthday…”

  1. Michelle, thank you again. They leave huge paw prints on our hearts, and as hard as it is to lose them, we are better for them having been in our lives.

    Two things I’ve learned about chlorine (which is highly toxic, that’s why it is such an effective biocide).

    1) Activated carbon filters will remove most of it.

    2) It also evaporates. I used to breed fish and it took about a day for tap water to reach safe levels for fish (but our water comes from the Great Lakes system, yuck!).

    The industrial chemical industry is hideous. They manage to get chlorides into so many products, from PVC piping to vinyl siding. It is hugely toxic to produce these products, and they can’t be disposed of safely.

    As for bathing, I have no helpful suggestions. Few of us can afford to install a water filtration system. You’ve raised something few people think about: the number of toxins we absorb through our skin. Most cosmetics and soaps contain carcinogens and mutagens. I think all we can do is be aware, cut our exposure to them to the extent we can, and fight for better regulation.

    End of rant! Hope everything is well.

    • Your skin absorbs everything, it lives and breathes! Cosmetics are full of bad stuff and talk about labeling! They would NEVER tell you what is in that stuff. I use very little (thank gawd I am married! haha!) and I make my own lotions and soaps, or I use Dr Bronner’s. I use unrefined cold pressed coconut oil for body lotion, I make my own body powder (baking soda and essential oils), I use aluminum free deodorant (never ever ANTI-perspirant! Your body NEEDS to perspire) either Tom’s Of Maine or Primal Pit Paste (which I love but is expensive)… I use unfiltered apple cider vinegar as a toner. There are all kinds of natural ways to make what you need. For Oscar I bathe him with Dr Bronner’s eucalyptus soap when he needs it which is a natural flea repellant. Eucalyptus essential oil on a bandana or his collar works too. The only thing he takes regularly is heartworm meds once a month because of our outrageous mosquito problem here. And that has no flea and tick repellant additive.

      Education is key. You have to know all of the things around you that can cause harm, especially with extended use. Hence why I am now a Holistic Health Coach… I want to teach people about this. Knowledge is power!

      I hope you are enjoying your summer Alex! (and family xoxoxo)

  2. PS: book suggestion: Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz. She’s a scientist and it is scientific but she right in a very accessible way, not that impenetrable language of academia.

  3. Those are great tips! As for expensive, yes, but maybe ya occasionally skip that $5 caramel mocha latte and do something good for yourself. I didn’t know eucalyptus was a flea repellent, that’s great advice. In my lifetime, I’ve seen organic cleaning products fall in price quite significantly. In the right stores, they are on par with Lysol etc. They might not kill germs quite as effectively, but there’s lot of evidence we’ve overdone it killing off germs that we need to be exposed to for our own immune healthy. Anyway, take care, and I trust your new hubby and fur-family are doing well. (How does Oscar do with the Florida heat? My German Shep suffers in the summer. Lots of wet face cloths, her own fan at night, and trips to the river where she can dangle her toes in the water and growl at her reflection. xo

    • Exactly! The more we consumers buy prganic and healthy safe products, essentially voting with our dollars, the more prices will come down. I have already seen more organic and natural products being stocked in local groceries and not JUST in health food stores. The Primal Pit Paste is around $10 for a stick, but it lasts forever. Your body kind of regulates to it and for me, i do not find it any less effective than any other deoderant. Well worth it. And i love the Thyme Lemongrass and the Lavender scented.

      Oscar being a black dog in Florida heat, he plays outside VERY early in the mornings or else he is in the pool swimming. Unless he is wet and shaded he cannot be outside too long. He is really loving swimming now too.

  4. Hi Michelle, I know this post is old but I have to leave a comment on it because it left me in tears. I found your blog because I’m scouring the internet for info on my baby’s cancer. Her name is Stella, she’s a lab mix and my entire world. It sounds like we both love our dogs the same way; like family. We’re still fighting but so far conventional and holistic approaches have both failed. I probably only get one more chance to try something else. I adore what you wrote that they make us better people. Stella made me dig deep and find a love so unconditional so selfless that I didn’t know I had it. Thank you for these words and good luck in your journey.

    Las Vegas,NV

    • Hi Jason, I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply to this. I have been away from this blog for a while dealing with the death my my Mother a little over three months ago… but I am just now starting to get back into the swing of things. How is Stella? Did you see my post about the cancer treatment we tried atthe end? They make a vaccine from your dog’s specific cancer and it has done amazing things for many dogs that I know that have tried it. Unfortunately it was too late for Cody but I am glad he could help them with their research.

      I hope this finds both you and Stella doing ok.

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