Garden Photo of the Day

A Hunter in the garden

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Lynn Felici-Gallant

We finished off last week with Lynn Felici-Gallant’s container creations, and we’ll start this week with her dog, Hunter, in her garden. Hunter is Lynn’s gardening companion, and has quite a story.

Lynn says, “In February 2010, my dog, Hunter, a four-year-old Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with a very aggressive bone cancer. He was given four to six months to live unless he had surgery and radiation. There was some evidence from blood tests that the cancer had spread. The surgery would remove half of his bottom jawbone, and would cost upwards of $5,000. There was no guarantee they could eradicate the cancer.

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Lynn Felici-Gallant

My husband and I labored over our options for hours, and ultimately decided against surgery, preferring instead to give Hunter the best quality of life we could for as long as he had. I posted the situation on Facebook, and one reply changed the course of Hunter’s life—a friend suggested we see Dr. Hannah Wells, a holistic vet in the area. Hannah is student of Chinese herbal medicine. She read Hunter’s biopsy, examined his records, and studied his “chi.” She explained the theory of Chinese herbal medicine—that all foods are assigned a heat or cool index, and that treatment is prescribed according to the temperature of the ailment, the animal’s temperature, and foods that are known to counter the condition (at least that is how I understand it).

Hannah asked if—in addition to a regiment of herbal remedies that would cool the heat of Hunter’s tumor—we would cook for him. My husband agreed to do so, and Hunter was prescribed an all-organic, chemical-free diet that includes locally raised beef, and organic kale, mushrooms, barley, broccoli, red kidney beans, parsley, and chicken broth. I grow the kale, broccoli, and parsley amid ornamentals in my gardens, and did so last year in my client’s containers and gardens, as well. My husband cooks a vat of “Hunter’s stew” every two weeks.

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Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus, USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10)Silver sage (Salvia argentea, Zones 5-8)Bush violet (Browallia americana cv., annual)Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare, annual)
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Lynn Felici-Gallant



It has been sixteen months since Hunter was diagnosed with cancer, and his tumor has completely disappeared. He is at a perfect weight, and is very healthy (and spoiled). There is no evidence that he is sick in any way. We are convinced that his treatment is a testament to the power of alternative medicine, a healthful, chemical-free diet comprised primarily of organic vegetables, and a tremendous amount of love. The images of Hunter anticipating, and then running with the ball, were taken weeks after he was expected to pass on, and are proof in themselves that he isn’t going anywhere for a long while. Plus, we have a new season of kale, parsley, and broccoli growing for him in the garden; if he left us, we’d have to start eating as well as he does.”

Amazing, Lynn! The garden’s pretty spiffy, too. BTW, that spectacular container is one that Lynn designed for FG‘s Fire & Ice Container Design Challenge a couple of years ago, but she chickened out on submitting it at the last minute. Boo! Check out the caption for the plant IDs.

Speaking of the Container Design Challenge, have you designed your container for this year’s challenge? The theme is ACCESSORIZE! Check out all the details here.

The FG editors can often be found photographing a garden owner’s pets when on photo shoots. We just can’t resist! Tomorrow I’ll post a few of our favorites. Feel free to send in yours!

As a matter of fact, I’d love to start featuring more of your garden photos, now that the gardening season is in full swing. Get out there with a camera, and send me some pics!

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Welcome to the Fine Gardening GARDEN PHOTO OF THE DAY blog! Every weekday we post a new photo of a great garden, a spectacular plant, a stunning plant combination, or any number of other subjects. Think of it as your morning jolt of green.

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View Comments


  1. charlotteA 06/27/2011

    That's an incredible article. I believe that this can happen
    to human beings as well. But it takes discipline to eat
    healthy. Would we all be willing to do this.

  2. Vespasia 06/27/2011

    What am amazing story, we used to have a beautiful Golden Retriever, his name was Governor, they are lovely dogs. I'm so happy that Hunter is doing so well, as is your equally wonderful garden!

  3. rion 06/27/2011

    What an amazing story. I'm happy for the 3 of you and to say what an amazing vet you found! My dog has cushings disease and we were told it would run us about 1200.00 a month w/ test and meds every month. She will live up to another year. We can't afford this but I'm happy for you and wish I lived closer to see what your vet would do for my girl! :) I love your garden! You are an amazing designer.

  4. user-7006895 06/27/2011

    A great story, a great garden -- thanks for sharing!

  5. gardengal42 06/27/2011

    Thank you We see that God has given us good food (we must buy or better yet plant it) I agree with what they did. My Golden, DUSTY lived a long life for dogs. I gave her good home cooked food when I could. Oh, yes I like the garden also..what is the name of the purple plants?? TKS

  6. sheilaschultz 06/27/2011

    Hunter is one lucky pup. He not only gets to eat gourmet meals, but he can play and watch over 'Mom' in her stunning and very peaceful garden! Alternative medicine is such a valuable tool, hopefully more vets will add the holistic approach to their arsenal. As a side note, I adore your container and you really should have entered the challenge! What I'm wondering is how it can remain upright with a happy pup romping thru the yard? My German Shepherd Dog is mindful of my containers, but when she is on 'squirrel duty' all bets are off!

  7. bamboomary 06/27/2011

    Hard to beat a garden buddy like a great dog, and they are all great. I miss my old boy so much. That was a terrific story!

  8. arboretum 06/28/2011

    lynn, sometimes I wonder, when i hear a story like yours, if the cure is in the amount of LOVE that you generate towards Hunter (focusing a significant part of your days- on his well being) as much as it is in the exact details of the process. As you already know,giving so much love benefits you the giver as well, but I also think it benefits the greater world around you. Thanks so much for sharing the story so we can pass it along to people in like circumstances. Btw, you and other animal lovers might like to know about Dog Chapel in Vermont, an amazing place for celebrating the special animals in our lives, both during and after their time with us. We have visited there before and it is both a fun and touching experience.


  9. petuniababi 06/29/2011

    I am so happy to see that Hunter is going to be alright!!There is nothing better than having your pet as a gardening buddy.Also the garden is beautiful.I don't know the names of all of the plants,but it is a great sweeping,gorgeous combination.God bless the gardener and Hunter.

  10. LynnFG 07/29/2011

    Thank you to everyone who commented on Hunter's story, and to Michelle, especially, for featuring it. I agree with you, arboretum, love has much to do with his, and our, well-being. Thanks for pointing that out, and for the link to the chapel in Vermont. We visit Vermont frequently, and will make it a point to stop by one day. All love and discipline aside, Hunter would not be as healthy if it weren't for Dr. Wells; she is the true heroine of this story.

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