Carlyn Montes De Oca’s new book shows how animals can improve people’s health, and vice versa.  (Courtesy photo)

Carlyn Montes De Oca’s new book shows how animals can improve people’s health, and vice versa. (Courtesy photo)

Holistic practitioner’s book touts animal human health connection

Marin-based wellness coach Carlyn Montes De Oca invites folks to take a quiz on her website that asks: What does your cat or dog know about your health that you don’t?

The answers can be found in her new volume “Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse: An Animal Lover’s Guide to a Healthy, Happy and Extraordinary Life,” which she’s promoting at local bookstores this month.

Montes De Oca, an acupuncturist, nutritional consultant and lifelong animal aficionado, says the book — which advocates “the animal human health connection” — was inspired by four dogs and two ailing cats she saved when she was actively involved in animal rescue while living in Southern California.

One of them was Roxy, an aggressive mix brought to the South Central pound in Los Angeles by police on a drug raid.

She took the dog to a session with Cesar Millan (before he became famous as the “Dog Whisperer”), who told her, “Your energy transfers down the leash. You need to let your tension go, so you can help her heal.”

It was among the first vivid demonstrations she witnessed that illustrated how people and pets affect each other – in body, mind and spirit, Montes De Oca says.

The idea to expand the notion into a book came after she realized that her cats made her feel better as she was going through a divorce and noticed how clients in her practice lit up and smiled when they talked about their animals.

Now living with two dogs (Dakota, “almost 16,” and Rudy, 13), Montes De Oca found research showing that physical aspects of taking care of animals were great for lowering humans’ blood pressure and cholesterol and increasing longevity.

Dr. Elliot Katz, a veterinarian and founder of In Defense of Animals, Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Jack Canfield of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” fame are among the experts cited in the book.

Montes De Oca sees the book as a call to action — a way to decrease Americans’ high rate of chronic illness and heart disorders (“lifestyle diseases”) as well as the number of animals, 2.5 million, in shelters.

To that end, Montes De Oca is donating part of the book’s sales proceeds to animal groups, including Marin Humane and Rocket Dog Rescue at two upcoming talks.

IF YOU GO

Pawsitive Book Tour
Where: Books, Inc., 601 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 2 p.m. May 13
Admission: Free
Contact: www.animalhumanhealth.com
Note: The author also appears at 1 p.m. May 6 at Book Passage in Corte Madera and at 2 p.m. June 17 at Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael.

BOOK NOTES

Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse
By Carlyn Montes De Oca
Published by: She Writes Press
Pages: 300
Price: $16.95Animal Human HealthCarlyn Montes De OcaCat as My NurseDog as My DoctorLiterature

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