For over 40 years, Dr. Bill “Doc“ Wagner has cared for animals, from large and small farms near Manistee in the early ‘60s, to his small animal practice that began in Beulah in 1968, to his Crystal Lake Veterinary Clinic in Benzonia where hes been since 75. What makes Doc different from other veterinarians is that hes also been treating them using alternative health methods, sometimes with amazing results.
In 1975, Doc was part of a group of veterinarians from around the U.S. who came together to learn more about the ancient art of acupuncture. They pooled their money to bring doctors from China, Germany and Austria to give instruction in the art of human acupuncture, since the practice on animals was unheard of in those countries. As they learned to transpose human acupuncture points to the corresponding points on the animal bodies, they found the animals responded well. They went on to form the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, where Dr. Wagner is both a charter member and past president.
As his experience grew, Doc became interested in a French innovation of acupuncture called auricular therapy, focusing on the acupuncture points in the ear. Again, the instruction had to be translated from humans to animals as this therapy had never been tried on animals. Doc and few others have been given the recognition for creating the ear charts so they and other veterinarians can today treat pets with this type of healing.
Seeing him work with the animals is like watching someone with a “sixth sense“ about what is going on inside them. When doing diagnosis and in treatments, he works with an assistant, holding her pulse with one hand while he holds different color shields over the animals body. He feels the changes in his assistants pulse to find energy points on the animals and then refers to a chart to locate energy blocks.
“Its like a road map to the body as if it was a circuit,“ Doc explains. “We try to flip the circuit breaker, so to speak. If the energy isnt moving, then the energy is not available for healing.“
“They are talking to me all the time,“ he continues, “I watch their reactions, how and when they turn and look. The colors make their muscles flinch, its like an alarm, the color intensifies the alarm and helps me to figure out where the problem is.“ He admits its by no means a magic wand, but another tool in his ability to help animals.
“People get frustrated with me because they want all the answers at once and it doesnt work that way, you have to go one step at a time,“ he said. “Animals have to do their own healing, just like us, no matter what is wrong.“
Often he sees animals that have been referred by other veterinarians who have exhausted other avenues of treatment and are looking for help. He often explains to the owners that he will do what he can to see if healing can occur, and most often than not, improvement is seen after one or more treatments.
Docs approach combines traditional medicine with alternative treatments that include acupuncture, kineseology, energy sensing, and herbs, minerals and diet supplements. “Alternative treatments are an add-on to traditional medicine,“ he explained. “We try everything else and then add this. Often, we see positive results.“
One of many success stories is Traverse City pet owner Sharon Dean and her beloved dachshund Maggie, who were referred to Dr Wagner when traditional treatments failed to help Maggies chronic and possibly genetic back problems that eventually left her paralyzed.
Dean came to Doc in February, Maggie couldnt stand or walk and she was considering a trip to MSU for surgery, which isnt always successful. After the second treatment, Maggie showed improvement. Gradually, over the next five months, with weekly, then bi-weekly, then monthly treatments, Maggie appears to have completely recovered as she bounds in to the clinic for her regular check up. “I am so thrilled about her back and so grateful to Dr. Wagner,“ Dean said. “I want to keep coming back for preventative measures, and Im considering acupuncture for my own health needs.“
As a deterrent to illness, Auricular Therapy can be helpful, he says. If alarm spots in the ears are treated as soon as they are found, some diseases can be kept at bay. In trauma situations, this therapy can be helpful in treating shock and slowing edema that occurs because of severe injury.
Doc strongly recommends regular veterinary care to all his patients, including annual check ups, vaccinations, traditional medications and spaying or neutering. He feels his ability to “look into“ the animals he treats helps him to deliver the best care he knows how. And his patients and their owners appear thankful he chose the path he did so many years ago.