Animal Case Study: Maize; From Panic Stricken to Confident and Competent


Maize is a 2 ½ year old bi-black Shetland Sheepdog. Her father is a top show dog and her mother was also a show dog. She is owned by her breeder, and has lived in a kennel for much of her life. She received human contact and attention daily from the breeder and her family members while living in the kennel. Maize was on a relatively decent quality dry dog food while living with the breeder. After she was with us for a couple of months, I switched her diet over to a balanced home made raw diet. As the breeder does not believe in over-vaccinating her dogs, Maize received the required rabies vaccine and the minimum number of other necessary vaccines. She was also on a year-round heartworm prevention. Aside from needing a bath, she was in good condition and has a nice healthy coat, good skin, and has no known health problems.

Panic-stricken behaviors and search for safety
Family life
Emotional challenges: overcoming fear and fostering confidence and trust
Confidence begins to emerge
Improvement in posture
More social and more comfortable in her surroundings
Increased physical contact with family
New-found composure
Showing more confidence, trust and affection
Regression when overwhelmed or over-stimulated
Emerging trust and playful with others
Initiating contact with others
Breeding Maize
Nurturing more joyful qualities
Physical and behavioral signs of confidence
Labor and birthing process
Competent mothering and playfulness




Mary Szczurek



Panic-stricken behaviors and search for safety

Although she was in good physical condition and was well cared for, Maize was afraid of everything and everyone when her owners brought her to me. She scurried around furiously and her posture was so poor that her legs were barely visible under her body. Her tail was always tucked underneath her. Maize wouldn’t walk on a leash and was frightened of everything and everyone. At our first meeting, at the breeders home, Maize was in a panic trying to find a place to hide and get away from this uncomfortable situation.

Upon arriving at my home, Maize continued her panic stricken behavior… frantically scurrying around trying to find a place to hide. She found the safest places to be were behind the sofa or in the laundry room behind the door, behind the boots. There she would stay until she was literally dragged out to eat or go outside. She would have slept in those “safe places,” but we put her in the bedroom of my 8 year old daughter (who would be Maize’s caregiver for the duration of her stay). Maize would sleep curled up in the corner of my daughter's bed, pressed against the walls. When we would let her out in the fenced yard to go to the bathroom, she was in a panic, never stopping…just running around as if she was afraid of the open space. It was VERY difficult to get her to come back in the house.

Maize was a slow but good eater. She was used to being alone in her kennel, not needing to worry about another dog eating her food.

Another unusual thing was that in a house with three other dogs, Maize NEVER barked. She appeared to want to be invisible.

I was told by the breeder that when Maize was a young puppy the breeder was involved in a serious car accident which prohibited her from socializing Maize as she normally does with all her puppies. As a result, Maize was quite unsocialized and very nervous at all times.

Family life

Maize came to live with us so my 8 year-old daughter could take care of her and show her in the 4-H Dog Project Dog Show. She would be Maize’s primary caretaker (with a little help from the rest of the family) for the duration of her stay. As Grace is home schooled, she would be with Maize almost 100% of the time. Maize started out having access to the entire house, but needed to be crated overnight at times, as we found out that she was not completely house-broken. Our home is quite dog friendly, with three other adult dogs. It is mostly a positive environment, but with three children being home schooled, it can be a little tense at times!

Emotional challenges: overcoming fear and fostering confidence and trust

The emotional challenges with Maize were many. I needed to figure out why she was so afraid and seemed to lack trust. She seemed “emotionally flat” and appeared to lack any joy in her life. The challenge was to try to figure out why and how to bring back some life into her soul.

My short term goal with Maize was to improve her confidence and trust in us so that my daughter would be able to take her to the 4-H dog show two months after she came to us. My long term goal was to assist Maize in overcoming her fears and desire to be alone. When I returned her to the breeder, I wanted Maize to be ready to be shown in the conformation ring, as the breeder had planned on doing.
February 2

I began Maize’s course of flower essence therapy:

Aspen was chosen to remedy unknown fear, hiding behind furniture, scurrying back and forth and fearful appearance

Five-Flower Formula was chosen for stress and to restore calm

Larch was chosen for much needed confidence and poor posture

Mimulus for her apparent fear of anything new and fear of people and other dogs

Water Violet was chosen to remedy her lack of socialization during her puppyhood, and her preference to be alone

The flower essence formula was given to Maize by hand by my daughter, Grace. She would place three or four drops into her hand and let Maize lick them off her hand.  If Maize did not want to take them, Grace would rub the drops on Maize’s face or pads of her paws. The essences were given 3-4 times per day, including first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

February 14

Confidence begins to emerge

In less than two weeks of beginning her therapy, I noticed a significant change in Maize’s appearance and confidence. She didn’t “slink around” nearly as much as she had previously, and while leashed would allow people to pet her without trying to run away. In addition to continuing the use of her first blend, we continued to work with Maize by keeping her on a leash with us throughout the day.

At this time, I decided to keep Maize on the same blend, as it was continuing to have a positive effect.

March 2

Improvement in posture

Maize’s posture has GREATLY improved. She has become a little more social and we continue to see slight improvement in that area. She will come when called, although she will hurry off promply after she is praised.

Again, I kept Maize on the same blend, as it was continuing to have a positive effect.

March 7

More social and more comfortable in her surroundings

We took Maize along with our other three dogs (also Shelties) on a weekend trip to our cabin in Wisconsin. I was anxious to observe her behavior in the new surroundings. I was surprised that she seemed to be more social and very comfortable in a smaller space (the house is quite a bit smaller than our other house). As I was concerned about her reaction to her new space, and the amount of snow built up along the fence, we attached a long cable to her collar so Maize couldn’t climb over the fence to escape. She didn’t want to “potty” while attached to the cable, but did thoroughly enjoy taking walks in the snow with the other dogs.

Flower essence formula:

Aspen for unknown fear, hiding behind furniture, scurrying back and forth and fearful appearance

Cosmos for increased communication and bond between Maize and my daughter and myself (we both took Cosmos as well)

Larch for much needed confidence and poor posture

Mimulus for her apparent fear of anything new and people

Pink Monkeyflower for Maize to open up her soul and take a risk with us

March 15

Increased physical contact with the family

I noticed that Maize doesn’t sleep huddled in the corner of my daughter’s bed anymore. She feels comfortable enough to sleep in the middle of the bed. She has also started to take chicken from our hands, which she would NEVER have done previously. We have been taking her to dog training classes, where, to my surprise, she has been able to maintain her composure. She will also take treats at training.

March 22

New-found composure

Grace entered Maize in her first (for both of them) dog show through 4-H. I was completely astonished at Maize’s composure. She didn’t seem frightened at all and had very good posture! When we arrived home, however, she did have a bout of diarrhea, indicating to me that she was quite stressed, in spite of her good “performance.”

I elected to keep Maize on the same formula as I was continuing to see improvement.

April 20

Showing more confidence, trust and affection

Maize has continued to show great improvement and began to give kisses! She has also become more social with other people and dogs at training!

We took Maize to Wisconsin again for a short trip. She loves it there and does not look for places to hide. She has been sitting in the kitchen while I am preparing meals and will follow me around the kitchen. At times she will poke me with her nose, asking to be petted. She has also been hanging around the table, actually begging for food. (Although our other dogs do not beg for food at the table, we have enjoyed Maize’s newfound confidence [Larch], and are not discouraging this behavior at this time.) One time, she actually put her feet on my oldest daughter's chair and lifted herself to get her nose on the table. She is demonstrating so much more confidence now! I feel that the Pink Monkeyflower has made such an improvement in Maize. I feel that she is taking the risk and opening her heart and soul to us. I think she is really beginning to trust us.

Because of the continued improvement in Maize, I decided to keep the same blend at this time.

May 22

Regression when overwhelmed or over-stimulated

Maize continued to do well, both at home and at training. However, she still would prefer to retreat to an upstairs bedroom if given the chance. Although she tolerates the other dogs in the household well, she doesn’t play with them or initiate any activity. Maize gets overwhelmed with increased activity. She has a tendency to regress somewhat when she becomes over-stimulated or when there is a lot going on at one time (i.e., too much noise at the same time as too much activity). I would really like to see her wag her tail.
Flower essence formula:

Larch for continued improvement in her confidence

Mimulus for her fear of sudden movements and loud noises (like pans banging, etc.)

Oregon Grape for trust. Although Maize isn’t hostile, I still felt that she may benefit from Oregon Grape. With her background of lack of socialization during her puppyhood, and living in a kennel, I felt that she lacked the ability to completely trust us and accept love from us. I think that deep down she expects that she will be abandoned (as I think she may have felt when her breeder/owner was unable to spend time with her at a crucial juncture in her life). I believe that she is protecting herself from disappointment and doesn’t expect permanent unconditional love from humans.

Indian Pink for being able to maintain her composure during times of increased activity

June 28

Emerging trust and playful with others

Maize continues to show improvement with her confidence. There is a definite improvement in her reaction to activity in the house. Although she is still alarmed with very loud noises, she is much better with everyday noises and activities such as drawers and cabinets closing, plates clanking, etc. She will acknowledge the noise, but doesn’t panic as she did before. She continues to appear social when around other people at home and away. When she is on a leash, she appears to be completely “normal” when on walks and at training. She has started to come when called, which I attribute to the Oregon Grape. Maize is more interested in treats than ever before, and she is much more trusting in allowing people to pet her. She will also now approach people and is not frightened as she was prior. She can be a little timid at times, but that has also improved. She continues to approach us to ask for treats and to be petted.  

The most significant improvement, however, is that Maize has initiated play with the other dogs! She assumes play position and jumps on the other dogs in a playful fashion and runs around the yard with them. For the first time since her arrival her tail is not tucked under her body and she has wagged her tail four times! She is holding her ears high on her head, which shows me that she is much more confident.

I would like to see her wag her tail more.

Flower essence formula:

Mallow was given to help with her social insecurities

Indian Pink was used again to help her cope with intense activity going on around her

Larkspur was given to generate confidence and charisma

August 1

Initiating contact with others

Within a few weeks, I noticed improvements including Maize’s interest in staying around us more than usual. A few weeks after that, Maize no longer laid in the laundry room or under Grace’s bed. She has ventured out into Nicole’s bedroom, where she enjoys her company and felt comfortable enough to sleep under her desk. On another occasion, she came into my room and laid on the floor next to my bed. Apparently she felt quite at ease, as she promptly jumped right on the bed and waited for me to lay next to her! She seemed to WANT to be around us more often. She has been following me around. When I took her for her first “real” walk, she did fabulously! The breeder offered Grace the opportunity to keep Maize, and co-own her with the breeder! Of course, Grace said yes. We are thrilled that Maize will be with us for the rest of her life!

No changes in the flower essence formula were made at this time.

September 8

Breeding Maize

At the beginning of September, Maize came into season and was returned to the breeder on September 8th for breeding. The breeder noted Maize’s demeanor and said that she did very well at her house. The essences were not used while at the breeder’s home.

When Maize returned to our home, I decided to keep her on the same formula with the addition of Larkspur for her pregnancy to promote the Larkspur characteristics in her puppies.

October 17

Nurturing more joyful qualities

Maize continues to do well at home and at training. She still enjoys being around us, and tolerates the typical household noise fairly well. I think that she could still enjoy life more…I would like to see her wag her tail more!

Flower essence formula:

Cherry to bring out the “puppy” in her! I would like to see her have more fun and experience the “puppyhood” that she seemed to have missed or forgotten.

Larkspur for confidence and to pass along those qualities to the puppies

Zinnia for joy. I would like to see Maize wag her tail more and be more joyful.

October 23, 2008

Physical and behavioral signs of confidence

We took another weekend trip to Wisconsin. Again, she felt very comfortable there. She spent very little time in her crate and would come up to us OFTEN asking to be petted. She started wagging her tail frequently and with more vigor. She also started carrying her tail higher on a regular basis.  There is also a notable improvement again in her reaction to noises. Her ears are carried higher on her head, and she has a sparkle in her eye.

Shortly after that, Maize started coming when called on a regular basis. She asks to be petted more frequently than previously. She is wagging her tail more and is very excited to see us when we come in the door. Most notably, however, is the fact that she has started to bark with the other dogs when the doorbell rings or someone comes in the house.

On November 4th, I added Walnut to her formula to aid in the transition to motherhood. I kept Larkspur and Zinnia in the formula.

November 8-9

Labor and birthing process

Maize whelped five puppies on November 8th and 9th. During her labor, I gave her Five-Flower Formula to help reduce stress (as it was her first litter). This was extremely helpful! No drugs were used during the whelping process, only Five-Flower Formula and the homeopathic remedy Caulophyllum to get the contractions going, if they stopped. The first puppy was born at 11:45 on November 8th. She was a great mother! She did everything that she was supposed to do during the whelping process.


Flower essence formula:

Mariposa Lily for mothering

Mugwort for nursing

Walnut for the adjustment to motherhood

I administered the formula in my hand and offered it to her to lick. On November 13, I started giving her the formula in her water. Anytime Maize seemed to lose interest in caring for her puppies, I would administer a dose of her formula, which helped very quickly.

November 14

Competent mothering and playfulness

The puppies were taken to the vet to have their dew claws removed. I left Red Clover with my family for Maize in case she was upset over her puppies being taken away. It was not needed, as she seemed to enjoy the break from the warmth of the heating pads.

I was very pleased with Maize’s ability to cope with and care for her puppies. I kept Maize on the previously mentioned formula for approximately 4 weeks. At that time, I put her back on the previous formula of Cherry, Larkspur and Zinnia. She has had even better results on this formula the second time. In the evenings, she plays and acts just like a puppy, romping around on the bed! She even encourages the other dogs to play. Her favorite thing to do is run around in the yard, full speed, with Apollo, another 2-½ year old Sheltie in our home.

Although Maize is an ongoing flower essence project, I am very satisfied with the results she has obtained so far. She is a completely different dog and appears to be much happier than ever. With continued work, I know she will continue to improve as time goes on.



Weak nursing and stress
No activity, no nursing
Trip to the vet for dew claw removal and check up
The weakest and smallest puppy
The weaning process
Stress after eating

Separation from litter mates

Getting out in the world
Going to a new home


Maize whelped a litter of five puppies on November 8th – 9th. In preparation for the event, I had several spray bottles prepared with a very small amount of brandy and filtered water with stock bottles ready to put a formula together.

Puppy #1 – 11/8/09 11:45 PM (4 ½ oz)
Puppy #2 – 11/9/09 12:50 AM (4 ¼ oz)
Puppy #3 – 11/9/09 2:12 AM   (4 oz)
Puppy #4 – 11/9/09 2:43 AM   (5 oz)
Puppy #5 – 11/9/09 3:20 AM   (3 ½ oz)

Within about 15 minutes of #3 being born, I noticed that he was smaller and weaker than the other two puppies. He did not begin nursing as the other two puppies did.

I prepared the following formula:

Almond for failure to thrive syndrome

Centaury for the nursing puppy who will not fight for the mother’s milk, often the runt

Oak for animals fighting to survive

Olive for animals fragile from birth that can’t cope with strain

Self-Heal “to stimulate inner healing forces” and “to awaken vitality and the will to live”

Within about 13 minutes of lightly spraying the formula on the puppy, he became very active and began nursing. He was doing very well. (After administering the flower essence formula, I also gave him a homeopathic remedy called Fading Puppy Drops.)

At 4:35 AM, I noticed Puppy #1 seemed to be stretched out and shaking, so I sprayed him with the same formula. He improved quickly.

It became clear that #3 was the weakest puppy and would need the most attention and care.

Following are some of the situations addressed and the flower essences used for the first weeks of the puppies’ lives—

Weak nursing and stress

Throughout the next few days, in addition to the Fading Puppy Drops, I gave Puppy #3 Five-Flower Formula (on the pads of his feet) when he seemed stressed and the previously mentioned formula when he just didn’t seem to be nursing and thriving. Each time his nursing promptly improved.

No activity, no nursing

Almond, Self-Heal, Oak, Olive and Centaury
Puppy #5 started nursing almost immediately…and gained ¼ oz!  I also administered the Fading Puppy Drops after the flower essence formula.

Trip to the vet for dew claw removal and check up

To help with the stress and healing of the procedure, I sprayed the following formula on the entire litter several times before and after the procedure:

Arnica to prevent swelling and bruising from the dew claw removal

Self-Heal to encourage the inner healing energy

Star of Bethlehem for trauma and transporting to a new place

Penstemon to provide inner strength during the trauma of the dew claw removal

Red Clover to keep the puppies calm during travel and the new experience of going to the vet
I was not present in the room during the procedure, but the vet said that they did GREAT!! (He also stated that they were very healthy and that he did not see anything wrong with Puppy #3, or why he would be smaller.)

The weakest and smallest puppy

Puppy #3 is definitely the weakest, and now the smallest puppy in the litter and will need the most attention and assistance. He does not nurse as well as the other puppies, and when he gets pushed off a nipple by one of the other puppies, he stops nursing…he does not fight for the milk or seek another nipple.

Mariposa Lily to help with nursing

Centaury for a puppy that won’t fight for its mother’s milk

Five-Flower Formula for stress

Almond for failure to survive syndrome

This formula definitely helps with his will to nurse, but as Puppy #3 is so small, unlike his littermates, he needs to be held up to Maize’s nipple in order to nurse. He was monitored 24 hours a day for one week. I continued to use this formula with Puppy #3 throughout the following weeks as needed. As time went on, he needed to be held up to the nipple less and would fight for the milk!

The weaning process

A few days prior to weaning and several days after starting weaning, I sprayed the litter with the following formula:

Mariposa Lily to aid in the weaning process

Walnut to help with the transition to this new stage in their lives

The puppies started weaning at 4 ½ weeks on December 10th. In addition to their new raw diet, I used NR Tree Bark Gruel to soothe the stomach during the weaning process.  Puppy #3 became very stressed, was shaking, and became withdrawn after his first meal. I gave him Five-Flower Formula for stress and he calmed down IMMEDIATELY!!!

Stress after eating

Puppies #1 and #3 sometimes became very stressed after eating. They were withdrawn and started shaking.

I gave them Five-Flower Formula for stress and
they calmed down within a couple of minutes!


The puppies were de-wormed with Pyrantel on December 18, January 2, and January 16, 2008.

To aid in the removal of worms from the puppies' systems, I used this combination:

Crab Apple for cleansing

Five-Flower Formula to reduce the stress of being wormed and improve their general well-being

In addition to spraying the puppies directly for the benefit of cleansing, I sprayed the formula regularly near the puppy pen and in the family room where their pen was located.

It was remarkable! There was absolutely no “puppy odor” at all in the house! The puppies had no negative effects from the de-worming.


Puppy #1 was given a bath today for the first time. He was shaking out of fear and anxiety.

Fear-Less was administered during the bath, both orally and topically. He calmed down immediately.

Separation from litter mates

For the first time, Puppy #3 was separated from his litter at night. I placed him in a crate, next to my bed to sleep. He was whining and scratching on the door to get out. He was obviously experiencing stress from this new situation.

I sprayed Animal Relief Formula in his crate while he was in the crate for “calming & comforting for animals in transition or trauma” (FES website).

Puppy #3 calmed down and laid down in 30-45 seconds. Within 1 ½ minutes, he was asleep!

Getting out in the world

Three of the puppies were taken to a 4H club meeting, as my daughter was doing a presentation on raising puppies. Puppy #2 was very nervous and shaking in the new surroundings.
Fear-Less was used for fear and anxiety; her shaking stopped and she calmed down within 2 minutes.

Going to a new home

On February 7th, the first puppy was scheduled to go to his new home with a wonderful family. As part of the information and supplies I sent with him, I included a flower essence formula to help him break the ties with his old home, allowing him to bond with his new family.

Flower essence formula:

Walnut for coping with the transition in his life

Honeysuckle for homesickness and being able to adjust to his new home and family

I sprayed him with the formula prior to leaving our home, and recommended that his new family spray him a few times daily, especially at bedtime, in his crate, and upon waking.
His new family reported to us that he transitioned beautifully!


Mary Szczurek has been working with flower essences since 2001, and received her Flower Essence Practitioner certification from the Flower Essence Society in 2009. Besides her flower essence work, she is also trained in Reiki and has taken classes in aromatherapy. In addition to her human clients, Mary has successfully treated many animals including dogs, cats, horses, and birds. She enjoys organic gardening and is active in her community, serving on a local citizens committee and in her county and state 4H programs. In addition to homeschooling her children, Mary raises Shetland Sheepdogs using natural and holistic methods. Mary resides in Naperville, Illinois with her husband, three children and dogs. She can be reached through e-mail at:


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