Kava, From Herder to Healer

Kava, From Herder to Healer

Posted by Marijke van de Water on 2018 Nov 26th

Let me tell you about Kava.

Christmas Day…

He arrived on Christmas Day 2001, wearing a big, shiny red bow around his neck. The most handsome Catahoula hound you ever did see, with his sleek black and white coat, a white tip on his tail, four white majestic paws and two different coloured eyes, one blue and one brown. As pleasantly surprised as we were, we were also completely unsure how we were going to manage this young, rambunctious one-year-old joining the growing pack; we already had two dogs, both seniors – a twelve-year-old golden spaniel and a fifteen-year-old saluki. We had no intentions of owning or needing a third dog. But Kava was determined.

One month prior to him moving in, I was asked to assess a couple of horses by a local dog groomer and trainer. When I picked her up at her shop with my truck, she asked if her dog – then named Gator – could come along.

“Sure,” I said.

I assumed that he would jump into the truck box like most farm dogs do, but no. The minute the cab doors were open, he leaped into the back seat behind me with his big muddy paws and sat right down. So off we went to the nearby pasture where he jumped out upon arrival and, true to the Catahoula lineage, promptly started to herd the running horses.

He Knew Before We Did

All went well, and when it was time to go home, we all piled back into the truck, and Gator claimed his already familiar spot in the back seat. I pulled into the yard, and my friend and I got out. She opened the back door to call Gator, and much to both our surprise, he didn’t come. In fact, he didn’t even move, he just stared ahead. She reached in to pull him out, and quick as a seventy-five-pound jack rabbit he jumped into the front seat behind the steering wheel and sucked himself up against the driver’s door. It was clear that he wasn’t going anywhere! At least not voluntarily. Long story short, Gator had to be physically removed from my truck that day. But never mind, he had already made up his mind.


And so, he arrived to our home soon after on that Christmas Day and started his life on Riva’s Ranch as a proud guardian over the land and the horses. He came to be known as Kava. He was so called not because kava is a herb used for stress and anxiety – in which case everyone could use a dog named Kava – but because Kava is a short version of a Portuguese word “kavorka” which means to have charisma and to attract others to you with your prowess and sense of success and abundance.

Kava not only had the charisma, but he also had an incredible sensitivity, intuition, and inherent wisdom on all matters that were important. He was a gentle soul although, if he perceived that another dog tried to threaten us, one of the horses, or even the chickens, he would grab them by the back of the neck and pin them to the ground until they apologized. He never once in his lifetime hurt another living being except for the occasional mouse.

From Herder to Healer


Kava became nothing less than a colleague as he shadowed my every career move in the healing and health industry. Over his lifetime, he sat in on every one of my thousands of healings and hundreds of classes with his incredible presence. He was, therefore, instrumental to the development of the Riva’s Remedies for Dogs and Cats product line in the fall of 2012. Kava may have begun his life as a herder, but he ended it as a healer.

The Rainbow Bridge

It was not until Kava passed over the rainbow bridge at the age of fifteen that I truly understood how much of a legacy he’d created. He wasn’t just a dog; he was a guardian, a greeter, a friend, a healer, a steward of the Earth, and a spirit guide. He opened the hearts of thousands of people who were touched by his healing energy during office appointments, distance healings, workshops, fire ceremonies, and retreats. He was calm, kind, respectful and very, very special. On Saturday May 16, 2015, at just after three in the afternoon, Kava made a beautifully sacred transition and passed into another dimension of consciousness – a place of peace, love and reverence.

Kava’s Healing Spirit

Kava’s healing spirit lives on to help thousands more dogs as he continues to grace our labels and approve of all our products. Kava never left the ranch or Riva’s Remedies and never will; his beautiful spirit flows everywhere – every tree, blade of grass, leaf, blossom and gentle breeze. He’s the dog that knew (and still knows) it all.

(Excerpt from Healing Dogs Their Way. Read more about Holistic Health, Animal Communication, and the Rainbow Bridge.)