(Plus George’s Remarkable Weight Loss Journey)
Tosia and Besia are 7-year-old sisters born in the beautiful city of Krakow, Poland. At 8 weeks old they found their forever family: Kasia and her husband Marek. For many years Tosia and Besia enjoyed a beautiful life in the Polish countryside 30 minutes outside of Krakow. Kasia worked full-time from home, which allowed their bond to grow and flourish.
Little did Tosia and Besia know, they were soon headed for an incredible journey from Poland to Charlotte, North Carolina. Learn more below in our Q&A with Kasia.
Q: Can you tell us about your journey to the United States?
Unfortunately, when the war started in Ukraine at the end of February, we had to make a very difficult decision to evacuate Tosia and Besia abroad. Krakow is only 2.5 hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border, which is a similar distance I drove from Charlotte to see Dr. Laurel at Sunvet. We saw military convoys, police, SWAT, NATO soldiers, etc. all driving through our hometown and going east to support the Polish/Ukrainian border. The Polish border is also NATO’s eastern border, so there were a lot of soldiers flying in from Fort Bragg, NC base to represent NATO’s military force stationed across Poland.
We had obtained Tosia’s and Besia’s passports many years earlier. However, we never actually used them because Poland is part of the European Union and you don’t have to show them while traveling by car from country to country. This time around, however, we decided to evacuate to another continent. We were advised that Tosia and Besia’s passports contained many errors and were not properly issued by our prior veterinarian. As such, we had to cancel them and obtain new ones. That was a very difficult thing to do, as there was a lot of chaos in our country because of the war. With a lot of Ukrainian families, including their pets, seeking refuge in Poland and then traveling across Europe, we couldn’t get new passports because veterinary clinics ran out of the actual documents. After a long wait, we were finally able to obtain them.
We decided to come over to Charlotte and stay with our family until the whole situation is a little bit more stable. We couldn’t, however, fly with Tosia and Besia directly out of Poland. No airline seemed to accept pets on board post-Covid. The only option for them to fly would be with our luggage, so that was obviously out of question. Only KLM airline accepted pets on board. So, we decided to drive from Krakow to Amsterdam, which is where KLM is headquartered. We packed our car, including Tosia and Besia of course, and drove for about 20 hours to check in for our flight from Amsterdam to Charlotte. The whole trip, door to door, took us nearly 40 hours. This would be the very first time Tosia and Besia were ever on a plane. We were very worried about how they would be able to handle a 9-hour flight, so we made a lot of stops on the journey to the airport to let them run. They were so tired by the time we got to the airport, that they slept through the entire flight. The pilot came over after we landed and commented on how extremely well behaved they were during our trip. Unfortunately, my husband had to stay behind to take care of our business and home. For now, our family is separated (for the very first time), so we can’t wait for the day we are all reunited.
We are also very thankful to our polish veterinarian, Dr. Margo Niziolek, who was able to issue Tosia and Besia’s new passports and help us obtain appropriate permissions prior to traveling. We would not be able to travel abroad if it wasn’t for her incredible support (she actually had a very serious back surgery but came back from sick leave to help us as well as many other Ukrainian families with pets. She also organized trips with medications to be transported back to pets who were left behind in Ukraine).
Q: What brought you to Sunvet?
First, we came to see Dr. Laurel with my sister’s dog, George. He was struggling with terrible allergies he’d had since he was a puppy. George is also 7 years old. He was on several very strong steroid medications and gained a lot of weight. There was no improvement though. I could tell he was feeling awful. Firstly, he hadn’t slept in years because his body was itching all over. He was chewing on his paws so much that they had deep open and bleeding wounds. George was our first priority.
Next, we came to see Dr. Laurel with Tosia and Besia. In Poland, veterinary integrative medicine doesn’t function as well as in the USA, so we really wanted to check with Dr. Laurel on the overall health status of our love muffins. Primarily, we came for a wellness exam with Tosia and Besia. Both girls also struggle with weight issues. In addition, Tosia struggles with joint pain, anxiety and fear.
I had access to integrative and homeopathic veterinary medicine mostly through books and the internet. A while ago, I found Dr. Laurel’s interview with Dr. Becker on YouTube and was super happy to learn that she was not too far away from Charlotte! I actually met Dr. Becker in person during one of her conferences in Warsaw, Poland about five years ago and immediately felt integrative and homeopathic medicine was absolutely what I was searching for in terms of care for our girls. Hence, our visit to Sunvet.
Q: How is George doing?
George is truly doing amazing. I can honestly say that for the very first time, he is genuinely enjoying his life. He is completely a new dog!
His coat is beautiful, all (I mean ALL) allergies are COMPLETELY gone. This is the first season in his life that he is not chewing on his paws (he would do it all day long…) and everything is totally healed. I’m not kidding. I knew he was going to be better, but I did not expect such a quick and full recovery!!! It’s AMAZING to watch him get better. It’s such a shame he was bouncing from vet to vet before we found Dr. Laurel and only kept getting worse, much worse. I genuinely feel Dr. Laurel saved his life because when I met George (I moved here just recently), he looked INCREDIBLY miserable and taking yet another steroid medication. Hence, my emergency visit at Dr. Laurel’s clinic.
Q: And Tosia and Besia? How are they getting along?
Tosia and Besia are also doing well. Tosia’s joint pain is much better. We have implemented Dr. Laurel’s recommendations and are working on resolving their weight issue (our visit at Sunvet took place very recently, so we haven’t had a chance to accomplish big results as of yet).
I was personally very relieved to learn that my girls are doing well. I was never quite sure whether traditional veterinary care alone would be able to catch/see whether things were genuinely going well or not. Dr. Laurel gave me such peace of mind. I can now enjoy being with Tosia and Besia so much more instead of always worrying about their health and well-being. I am so very thankful that Dr. Laurel helped me to feel much more comfortable and at ease. We can now truly enjoy being together.
Q: Can you tell us more about your experience with Dr. Laurel and the Sunvet team?
It was incredibly wonderful! Dr. Laurel was very calm and relaxed, super knowledgeable and truly respected our animals (i.e. sitting with them on the floor while performing her exam). She was very intuitive, trying to tap into our family’s dynamics and help Tosia and Besia in the best way possible.
Sunvet team was also incredibly helpful. They were very professional and on top of things. It was such a well-coordinated and organized visit. Everything went very smoothly and quickly. The whole team was very supportive and effective. They resolved all my questions and inquiries immediately. My medication was ready shortly after our visit. Very attentive. They made everything happen right away. Just really wonderful and caring team of professionals.
Q: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for others?
I feel it is very important to create an environment for our beloved pets where gentle and natural healing can take place. A critical part of the whole process is the integrative doctor such as Dr. Laurel who can help provide appropriate guidance. Always treat your furry family member with utmost respect and love. Lower their stress by providing plenty of opportunities to run outdoors, let them get back to nature, be themselves, and take them off leash as much as you can. Also, focus on natural healing treatments and protocols to support the body’s natural mechanisms.
Thank you, Kasia, for sharing your story!