Jamie Shaw’s life is dogs, and has been for decades. As one of New England’s first Canine Behaviorists, she has been at the forefront of groundbreaking dog training and behavior modification from the beginning. Jamie’s business, The Dog School, is known throughout Vermont as the place to go for help with puppy obedience training, as well as the most challenging and difficult dog behavior problems. Jamie began teaching about canine behavior at the University of Vermont in 1997, and her classes have been a favorite of pre-veterinary and psychology students for 23 years. Jamie has devoted her life to caring for, training and educating others about their canine companions. It is not only her profession, but encompasses skills, patience and kindness of which she is truly gifted.
Unbeknownst to her until she was officially diagnosed 4 years ago, more than 13 years ago, Jamie contracted Babesiosis - a tick borne illness caused by malaria-like parasites which infect red blood cells. Chronic infection causes anemia, fatigue, respiratory issues, and chronic pain among other symptoms, and treatment is often ineffective and risky at late stages of infection. Jamie had no idea that this was the illness from which she had been suffering for so many years. Then, during renovations of her old Vermont farmhouse 8 years ago, Jamie was unknowingly exposed to toxic levels of heavy metals from an old furnace while it was being removed in numerous pieces from the home. Shortly after the furnace was removed, she fell acutely ill. As heavy metals remain in one’s bloodstream, acute exposure may cause many symptoms, including neurological issues and chronic pain. Sadly, she was unaware at the time that she was beginning to suffer from heavy metals poisoning, which triggered the dormant Babesiosis to activate, AND caused a Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MAST) flare-up (a hereditary disorder in which certain cells involved in immune response inappropriately release chemical mediators, causing the body to attack itself). Symptoms include chronic pain, itching, skin reactions, systemic inflammation, and neurologic symptoms such as “brain fog” and concentration issues.
So, for the past 8 years, all together these 3 illnesses have layered symptoms on top of each other to create a debilitating level of toxic poison within Jamie’s body. It has taken Jamie years to obtain proper diagnoses, and because of the layers of complexity involved with each illness and the amount of time she’s been infected, normal treatments have proven ineffective. Jamie now must seek treatment outside of Vermont in hopes of recovery.
Through these last 8 years, and even while enduring periods of extreme pain and discomfort, Jamie has maintained her business, with the help of her daughter Halle, her partner, and her apprentice Mahayla. Her skill as a canine behaviorist and her ability to care for dogs has remained unchanged through all this, and she will ALWAYS pride herself on providing the absolute best behavioral services and dog care in Vermont. However, the quest for effective medical treatment is straining the resources of her small family business, and the time required to seek treatment means she will need to take time off from consulting and boarding.
Covid-19 has been especially difficult for The Dog School, and on top of the strain of her illnesses, the pandemic is threatening to close the business' doors for good. Jamie needs help to keep The Dog School open, to continue to provide the behavioral help and expertise dog owners throughout Vermont have come to rely on, and also to have the opportunity to obtain the medical treatment she so desperately needs. During this unusual holiday season, please consider a donation to help support a small, woman-owned local business and help it survive. Training and caring for dogs are not just Jamie’s business - they are her life. She isn’t done helping dogs, and with your support, she will continue to do so for years and years to come.
Funds raised will be used to keep The Dog School open and make up for lost wages while Jamie is away receiving the treatment she so desperately needs, for travel expenses (plane tickets, hotel) and paying for the Hemodialysis (a treatment which specifically targets blood parasites and removes heavy metals from the bloodstream). As Hemodialysis is not currently available in the United States, Jamie will need to travel outside the country to receive it (basically wherever is cheapest/safe; those currently on the forefront of this type of hemodialysis are several hospitals in Europe, and in Hungary). Funds will also be used to pay for medication, which is extremely expensive. Jamie has had to discontinue treatments that were helping because of expense (such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy), so her symptoms have been exacerbated. It is likely that much of the neurological damage that has already occurred is permanent. Additionally, going forward following treatment, Jamie will need to seek ways to adapt her life to this new normal. One example is that she will need a modified car to make driving less painful, including an adjusted gas pedal and steering wheel. Another is that, since becoming ill, she has lost enough weight that she needed to buy all new clothes.
Jamie has always prided herself on her ability to persevere through these challenges and difficult times, and asking for help is never easy. We all thank you in advance for your kindness and support during this time.
- Jane Markley
- Ann R Sheets
- Madison Mahoney
Fundraising team (3)
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