Friday, March 11th was my husband’s birthday so I got up so excited to celebrate the life of the man I’ve loved for so many years. Then I received a text telling me that my long time friend, colleague, former podcast co-host and business partner, Dr. Jeannie Thomason had passed away on Wednesday, March 9th. My mind didn’t want to believe it, but since it came from a trusted friend and sister in Christ I knew it was true. Jeannie had been ill since about December 2020 from what she told me. Before I share what happened, let me first share a little bit of our journey together…
Jeannie and I met online in an essential oils email group because there was no social media back then in 2004. In fact it was in the spring of 2004 – nearly 18 years ago now. I wasn’t even using essential oils yet. I was in the group to learn why I may want to use them. She was sharing some advice in the group (she was so good at doing that) – sharing her vast knowledge and wisdom alongside her extensive hands-on experience in natural health for both animals and people. Since we could have our websites linked in our email signature line (which she did), I went to her then website to check her out. I read every article and page on her site – back then we had a LOT less information to share since no one was blogging YET but that changed that summer.
I reached out to Jeannie to connect with her. We kept on chatting via email at first. We realized we were so like-minded that we actually just became friends rather quickly. It’s all a blur now as it feels as if I’ve always known her. It’s so funny how things just started happening once we aligned. I got her into blogging and back then we “blogrolled” (linked to) those we liked so others could continue reading similar content from other bloggers. So of course she and I blogrolled each other. Then we got involved in an online community (Co-op World) with webinar capability that had affiliate marketing attached to it as well. Keep in mind, there were no webinars in the way they’re conducted now. The creator (Rob) was a genius and WAY ahead of his time – which is why funding was extremely difficult for him. Had he been able to stick it out, he’d be at the top of the webinar, online expos, social media platforms today. Once a week (I think I just don’t remember lol) in the morning Jeannie would sit in a “pet chat” webinar room waiting for community members to stop in to ask questions. I did likewise in the afternoon. Sometimes we’d stop in on the other’s chat so we could answer questions together – always finishing each other’s sentences in the text chat which was so uncanny AND cool. Hardly anyone came in but we never missed. In order to do the audio portion, we had to wear headphones with a mic to be able to chat and it was done in walkie talkie type fashion holding down the control key. Most visitors simply texted to avoid that and we’d voice the responses to them. The webinar room had recording capability as well – now that’s all so “normal” for us but it was novel back then.
We built our blogs, worked in this pet chat, then we segued into a weekly recorded chat which Jeannie named “All God’s Creatures“. We also had a dog trainer friend in Co-op World who would join us often. In fact, in October of 2005 (after I’d tried a solo pre-recorded podcast for a few episodes) I asked Jeannie to join me in recording together as by that time we’d dropped the weekly All God’s Creatures chat. Animal Talk Naturally (ATN) was born. A new friend who had a streaming podcast station created a free logo for us, then we began “podcasting” weekly. Before long we were having guests and streaming on a couple of online radio stations too – we made such great friends in the podcasting community! We even had a monthly guest for just over a year in 2006, a veterinarian who went by the handle DOGtorJ – yes Jeannie had known him prior as she had most of our earliest guests.
In the fall of 2006 we even conducted a three-day Online Dog Expo using Co-op World with their tech team supporting us through it. We had back-to-back guests since we weren’t scheduling geniuses haha! We didn’t know of anyone who was doing anything like that back then either so it was crazy AND fun! We continued to use Co-op World as our platform (Jeannie and I had to train each new guest how to login and use our walkie talkie recording service lol) until 2007. Live audience were always welcome as well. We eventually moved to BlogTalk Radio in 2007 and used their service for many years. Every Wednesday at 12:30 PM MT we recorded this show. We often did 1-2 bonus shows per week as well from 2008 until we began our online school in animal naturopathy as we had many guests wanting to come on the show by then.
Jeannie had so many connections to those in the natural animal health community so we grew as people learned of our “online radio show” – people didn’t understand the term “podcast” back then lol. We are still friends with many of these same pioneers today. We went through SO many changes with the podcast, the logo, even the music. One constant remained – Jeannie and I together. We had the good fortune of having some of the most known contributors in natural animal health on our podcast. We also ventured into doing two, then three podcasts for a short while. We became animal naturopaths in the midst of all of this (distance learning school). I honestly don’t know how we did it but then we were younger and things were actually much simpler back then as well. People truly collaborated and helped each other in our online communities (podcasting, blogging, health, animals – you name it we collaborated rather than competed). It was a great and fun time! We had all the difficulties too that can happen with new technology which was the NOT fun part, but it goes with the territory. All the while Jeannie was helping me learn, as well as guiding me and helping me with my amazing Teacher Dog, Shadrach the Neo Mastiff – who did all my blogging for me until he passed in April of 2011.
This was our work together until we founded the American Council of Animal Naturopathy (ACAN) in 2011 – online distance learning in animal naturopathy. During this time Jeannie was naturally rearing Boston Terriers and attending/participating in dog shows as well as running and growing her ever popular The Whole Dog website. In addition she’d also founded the Natural Rearing Breeders Association! Later she switched to naturally rearing Standard Poodles. She’d naturally reared other breeds prior to the Bostons as well. She was always willing to help others learn natural rearing methods for which we’re all glad that she left a chunk of her knowledge, expertise and experience in her book, Natural Dog Rearing!
To give you a view into all she had learned and done in her life here is just a sampling: Jeannie had an African Grey parrot named Nick (all of his life to date) and another one named Koko for a short while (both parrots are still alive and well). She also raised koi fish in her backyard pond. Plus she was an avid gardener – growing both beautiful flowering plants (roses, succulents, etc.) and FOOD. She was always doing something and yet always downplayed all she was actually doing. She was a very calm as well as a quiet person. In the animal world – the pack/herd/etc., leader uses the least amount of expended energy to conserve for when truly needed. She managed her home as well as all of this at all times. She grew up in a military home so she lived all over the world, and she also had a wide variety of animals once they settled down – rats, birds, cats, dogs, fish and she was a horsewoman as well. She was well-versed in a variety of animals and was ever pursuing their natural, whole health care. The animals she had when I knew her included a barn kitty, the parrots, koi fish, and her ever present dogs. ALL were reared naturally and fed according to their species needs. Her knowledge and experience was vast! I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor OR friend!!
Prior to starting her online career, she worked as a licensed veterinary technician for years including in an equine facility as well. She left that after an injury to her neck, which I believe may have in part contributed to her final illness.
We kept the podcast up regularly for a while until our school began to grow, then we had to lessen that. A whole lot of other things happened during all of this time – our own health challenges that helped us learn and grow, loss of animals, friends and family, on and on. The glue at the center of our friendship and work was always God.
We thought we’d always work together and that ATN & ACAN would go down when we did. Sadly that didn’t happen. In 2018 we made the decision to end our joint alliance of 14 years and go solo. What I’ve told a few of the mutual friends we have who loved her and were shocked by her passing, is I used the metaphor of a rock band (lol that would make her laugh) to explain what happened to us. I said sometimes bands do such amazing things together and then one or more of them want to go solo and rarely are they as good as a soloist as they were a united band. My husband said she and I were a “dynamic duo“. As a soloist after her, that was true for me but nothing stopped Jeannie from continuing on helping as many as she could through online groups, consults, by phone, in person – whatever she could do.
After she passed I can’t begin to tell you how many people contacted me this past week to tell me how she helped them with their dog, dogs, themselves, etc. Those stories have poured in. I hope one day each of them shares how she helped them! This segues into a question that may be on some minds: How could such a champion and pioneer for both natural animal and human health exit this world so soon? She was only 67. How could it be that someone who taught and helped others with a natural, whole health lifestyle become ill and pass away so young?
Remember when I told you she had a neck injury, that resulted in a neck surgery? That she was a military daughter so that meant lots of jabs over the years? Ponder that for a moment and as she always encouraged everyone “do your own research outside of conventional sources” to learn the truth. Also, I invite you to look into the role of the vagus nerve. Remember what she taught each of us on the conventional medical harm to our animals, plus what she’d endured as well. Remember what we taught on our podcast and in our school – to those who listened and/or attended.
After we closed our school we remained in minimal contact only via email (sadly) for two years. However, in April 2021 we spoke on the phone as I had gotten this “feeling” (as she’d tell you that was a God thing) that something wasn’t right so I reached out to her and told her so and asked if she were okay. She said no, she’d been sick since December 2020. Not with the “thing” that took over the world either. It was (I believe as does her husband) related to the things I mentioned previously. Jeannie and I stayed in touch until late July (I was going through so many losses and trying to deal with that as well as the loss of “us” still). Whenever I made a suggestion for her health, she would simply say she would consider it. She wasn’t shining me on, rather she was pressing in for divine healing which we BOTH believe in and I have definitely experienced. She was not interested in receiving a diagnosis that could settle into her thoughts knowing that facts and truth don’t always coincide. A doctor’s report can be fact but what God says is THE Truth. So I stood in agreement with her.
In her last days, due to all the messages I’ve received, I know she let her own business stand aside so she could focus on helping others. Her husband told me she was very thin and not doing well but she would not be swayed to go against her decision. It reminded me of something I heard David Wolfe teach about a friend of his who had received a diagnosis of cancer that he would not recover from. Well, that guy went on to enjoy his life to its fullest until he passed. He didn’t receive any of the conventional treatments by choice. Jeannie didn’t have a diagnosis on purpose and didn’t want to hear anything that didn’t line up with her convictions or God’s Word. She passed simply at home on March 9, 2022 with her husband and now small animal family (two dogs and a parrot) which is what she wanted.
I found out on March 11th as I said at the beginning of this post. I’ve had so many memories come flooding back. I have missed her daily since because I know I can’t pick up the phone and just have one of our LONG talks. In hindsight everything is crystal clear. I was beyond blessed to have her as my friend, colleague, mentor, business partner, podcast co-host, and especially my sister in Jesus (because I KNOW I’ll be seeing her again!).
Many of us in the natural animal health community are shocked and very sad at her passing. We definitely want to continue her legacy and so we shall – in each of us who she helped and taught. In her own work as things are worked out in that so that she is commemorated. Whatever I do will be dedicated to her memory. I know many of us want to move forward together as a community. The God-sized dream that has come as a result of our loss is to see natural rearing become the norm rather than the exception. I know this will be done as a joint-effort as a “BAND” not a “SOLOIST“! I don’t know what that all looks like yet, and I know that it will take time for her various websites, etc. to be sorted out. However, I do know that the natural rearing and animal naturopathy communities who loved her and now miss her will continue the work. She WILL be honored and God glorified in the process.
I love you always and forever Jeannie girl, until we meet again my dear sister friend! Here are two audios with her – the one above is from a few years ago with our friend, veterinarian Dr. Hugh Bassham. The one below is my tribute to her that was released March 31, 2022.
Until next time…
Have a PAWSitively, tail waggin’, NATUROPATHICALLY healthy day!