When Cindy Meehl brought her ailing dog to Smith Ridge Veterinary Center nearly 30 years ago, she saw firsthand how Dr. Marty Goldstein’s treatment not only helped 6-year-old CoCo recover but also to start “behaving like a puppy again.”
In the 2019 documentary “The Dog Doc,” producer-director Meehl gives everyone a chance to experience Dr. Goldstein’s longtime commitment to wellness through nutrition and alternative therapies and how the cutting-edge veterinary clinic in South Salem, New York, has put those practices to use.
“My game plan was to try to introduce people to a different way of looking at health for their animals, but I knew that subliminally so much of this applies to people,” said Meehl.
“The film focuses not so much on the alternative to conventional medicine; it’s about integrative medicine,” added Dr. Goldstein. “I’ve always walked the line between both.”
Smith Ridge Veterinary Center, he added, “is doing the best of both worlds — the highest level of conventional medicine, plus the addition of alternatives, so it’s about integrating a whole new field into the realm of medicine, which is so needed.”
In filming 300 hours of footage over 2-plus years for the documentary, Meehl came away “fanatically impressed” by what a support staff does at a veterinary office.
“I suppose that I naively thought that the doctor was doing everything, but you realize that the technicians — these people that you might overlook who come in and take your dog — are very hands-on,” she said. “They’re the ones drawing blood; they’re the ones back there doing the teeth cleaning. … It’s one thing to put on a good show for a day [in the presence of a film crew], but we were there constantly. You might fool people a little bit, but you’re not going to fool them all the time, so to see this group of people be better than I ever expected was exciting.”
Along the way, Meehl says there were “a lot of moments where I was crying behind the camera.” One involved the turnaround of a dog named Waffles, while another showed Dr. Goldstein speaking at Cornell University, his alma mater, and “seeing these young students and their enthusiasm over what Marty was talking about,” she says.
“That’s what it’s going to take: the universities getting behind alternative medicine,” she added. “People need to understand that this is really very viable medicine, and it’s so much less evasive.”
While technically retired from clinical practice, Dr. Goldstein is still associated with Smith Ridge “because I love it so much,” he says, and overall he finds himself “working more than ever right now.”
He recently finished the manuscript for his second book, “The Spirit of Animal Healing,” which is scheduled to be published in February by St. Martin’s Press.
“It’s about the spirit in which the body heals, and also the spiritual connection between the human race and the animal race on the level of disease and healing,” Dr. Goldstein said.
He’s happy to point out that the senior editor of his book — “very conservative by her own admittance” — came to the New York premiere of “The Dog Doc” on March 13, “and she was so moved that she held the book back for me to rewrite the ending to go in alignment with the message of the film. And she became so less conservative in her viewpoint after watching the film.”
With much of America still shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Goldstein has a few ideas for pet owners with time on their hands.
“I would have them become educated on health care for their companion animals as they are indoors with them,” said Dr. Goldstein. “I always educate people to learn about what true health care is and apply it and focus on it, and don’t be under the fear of COVID or cancer. Just focus on health.
“It’s a perfect time to see the film,” he added. “I’ve had veterinarians see some of the premieres and screenings, and I’ve gotten 100 percent thumbs-up from them. This is not wacko holistic medicine: This is real, honest, integrative medicine, and the film really captures it, so this is a great time for society and the profession to watch this film.”
“The Good Doc” is available on demand through Apple TV and other services. You can also watch virtual screenings via select theaters from around the country, and by doing so, you’ll support a small business and a worthy cause: For every theater screening the film, Meehl’s Cedar Creek Productions will donate $100 to the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, a sanctuary for older dogs in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.