THE author of a valuable guide to the rearing of dogs, 'Let's Have Healthy Dogs', used her gift for writing and her love of dogs as solace during the darkest period of her life.
Helen Cramer and her medical practitioner husband Erle, of Oyster Bay, have been breeders of rough-coated collies since 1957.
The demands and travelling involved in being an all-breeds dog judge prevent Mrs Cramer from showing her dogs as frequently as she once did but they have remained consistent winners in the ring.
Early in her career as a dog breeder Mrs Cramer became interested in the natural rearing of animals.
This means following as closely as possible the dog's natural diet of raw meat and vegetables, with the use of herbal extracts where necessary. Mrs Cramer's methods met with the approval of her medico husband.
"It was after I read books by Juliette de Bairacli Levy on humans and animals, but in particular 'The Complete Herbal Book For The Dog', that I changed my dogs' diet," Mrs Cramer said.
"At that time I had to send to England for herbal products, but I eventually purchased the right to have the formulae made in Australia.
"I began writing Let's Have Healthy Dogs more than 20 years ago, first as lecture notes and as a form of diary.
"Then our daughter, the youngest of our four children, died as the result of a car accident.
"While we sat at her bedside, all our adult dogs were stolen and a litter of eight-week old puppies was left with broken limbs. After that I lost interest in all dog activities and my book was placed in limbo."
The only way Mrs Cramer could find any comfort in her grief was by writing poetry which, with the urging of friends, was eventually published as 'Tomorrow's Dawn', a mother's walk through the first year of grief. Then she penned a sequel, 'Day By Day'.
"Gradually I began judging again and I finally bought another Collie pup," Mrs Cramer said.
I suppose writing had become a solace for my sorrow and after a few articles and a short story were published I rescued 'Let's Have Healthy Dogs', with a scanner and computer helping me to bring it to life again."
Mrs Cramer is glad she persevered because the book contains all the knowledge she has gained over 40 years. It should be very helpful to both breeders and pet owners.
'Let's Have Healthy Dogs', a beautiful hardcover volume, is available at pet shops, show vans and quality book stores or from author.