Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Animal hoarders have never met an animal they didn’t like, and place us (our society in general) in quite a predicament. We’ve seen photos of the squalor taken by the local media — pictures of soiled carpets and piles of garbage — and we can easily guess what will ultimately happen to most of those ailing cats, dogs, birds and reptiles. But for all the neglect and mistreatment we see, we also seem to find the hoarders’ dysfunction quirky, and in some cases even funny. Rarely do we consider the mental condition that causes this behavior as serious as, say, schizophrenia. We believe these people to be ill, but only to the point of being eccentric.
Researchers at the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University argue that animal hoarding represents a vastly misunderstood problem, one that goes far deeper than a few animal cruelty charges allow us to imagine. Despite the attention they get from the mainstream media, animal hoarders have been the focus of very little psychological research. For years it has been perceived as an animal welfare issue, and left for the shelters to handle by themselves. The human side of the problem has been largely ignored.
A group at Tufts’ Center for Animals and Public Policy, the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), coined the phrase “animal hoarding” in 1997. It was a watershed moment: There had always been cat ladies, and newspaper stories about them began to appear routinely a decade and a half ago, but they were referred to, rather benignly, as “collectors.”
At the time of this writing there is no clinical diagnosis for animal hoarding despite a correlation with known pathologies such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and some would like to study it more. Is it a syndrome in and of itself? Most doubt that’s the case. But some day it might be included as a warning sign in psychological evaluations.
Perhaps the most prominent psychological feature of these individuals is that pets (and other possessions) become central to the hoarder’s core identity. The hoarder develops a strong need for control, and just the thought of losing an animal can produce an intense grief-like reaction. Preliminary HARC interviews have also suggested that hoarders grew up in chaotic households, with inconsistent parenting, in which animals may have been the only stable feature.
Formal hoarding research generally confirms what has long been suspected: Nearly three-quarters of all hoarders live alone, according to a Health and Human Services report; and three-quarters are women. Almost half are 60 or older, and cats barely edge out dogs as the animal of choice. In 80% of the cases studied authorities found either dead or severely ill animals in hoarders’ homes. It’s not uncommon for cruelty-related arrests to be followed by court-ordered psychiatric treatment, but by many accounts, the counseling is not specific enough, and does little to curb the high levels of recidivism among those convicted.
How do we predict whether obsessive animal love will evolve into something unhealthy? There was the case of the poor, ailing blind man who loved animals so much he figured he’d teach them about Jesus. Reports say he surrounded himself with all manner of critters; he rescued bunnies from snares and removed worms from busy roads. “Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God,” he’s said to have once told a flock of birds that clustered around him until formally dismissed. This was St. Francis of Assisi, and his boundless animal love earned him not jail time but sanctity before God.
One woman who faced charges for mistreating over 150 pets and barnyard animals, recalled, “Since I was a kid, I was scooping ants out of puddles.”
As she tells it, her collection represented a lifetime of devotion to animals — she ran something of a refuge, and did everything she could to give her wards good lives. Authorities, however, painted a picture of broken limbs, infections, dental abominations and helpless creatures that ultimately had to be put down in some cases.
“I got crucified … I just hope every animal went to a good home. That’s how I console myself,” the woman says. “Afterwards, I had death threats. I’ve been told to come back [to town] in a disguise.”
In reality, hoarding might not even have much to do with animals at all. It may, in fact, reflect human needs. Experts are now looking into the idea that animal neglect could be a sentinel for human neglect. A significant minority do have a dependent family member present. There is speculation that hoarders may adopt a parental role with respect to their animals. This then results in a reluctance to remove any animals, even when adequate homes are available. Many of the collectors emphasize that their animals give them unquestioning and uncritical love. They tend to personalize and anthropomorphize their pets and view themselves as rescuers of suffering or unloved animals.
The question ultimately remains: Are they criminals to be punished by our black and white judicial system or are they mentally ill and in need of intervention and treatment? There really seems to be little doubt that mental illness is the cause, and treatment would be the solution, if help were to be accepted. It is unlikely that a fine or jail time will stop the behavior for very long. Perhaps our system should look into treatment as a solution for the hoarder and the many animals she has yet to “love.”
To read this article in the original form, please go to www.PawPrintstheMagazine.com.
*Articles published on PetSense.com represent diverse views and opinions.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
They Came Two by Two
As I surrendered to the idea of another cat, I worried about her being “single.” I usually acquire dogs and cats in pairs much like Noah. To go from no cats to two was a lot to ponder. After all, the kitten had Hana and
Being plagued by my Noah mentality, I began wondering if either of the gray kittens was available, but I felt it best left to the Universe. I’d see what happened when I went to get Smudge.
Well, the Universe wasn’t content to wait. I received an email from my friend asking if I’d be willing to take another kitten. Are you ready? One of the gray kittens remained homeless. It must be somebody, since I was thinking gray and that’s who needs a home.
So, I asked, “Is this someone I know.” Of course it is!
The following summer, he reincarnated into my mare, Squiggles’, first colt. When I asked what the foal wanted to be called, I heard, “Dash,” and knew instantly who was back. Dash was the title of a heartfelt poem that I’d received the day Merlin died. Really; you can’t make this stuff up.
Dash lived for three years. He had an accident as a yearling that injured his right hip. After two years and two major surgeries, he continued to have trouble with it. I simply couldn’t put him through another surgery, so I made the decision to send him back to spirit. I was crushed by his loss. I pray this kitten plans to stay longer.
Once I accepted that I was destined to have two, names starting buzzing around my head. The kitten and I have chosen Sage, which is appropriate because Sage is used when smudging to cleanse negative energies.
Two more days of peace & quiet….
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
have very little or no influence in altering the course of our lives.” - Carlos Casteneda
A divine awakening led me to transition from my old way of being to incorporate more of the spirit world into my daily living, where my ever-evolving worldview now includes dreams, guidance, visions and encounters with nature and animal spirit and animal companions, in addition to others for whom I have no category other than "spirit messenger."
I had no intention of exploring shamanic realms, and yet, that is where I found myself. And the revelations blossomed.
It is wonderful to connect with kindred spirits who are also walking that intuitive led path. Rose De Dan shares and blogs her shamanic experiences. Creator of Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing, she has seen firsthand the profound healing impact of the work on the lives of others.
A Reiki Master Teacher, mesa carrier in the Peruvian Q’ero tradition, and animal communicator, she teaches classes, workshops and teleclasses for those interested in learning more about energy medicine.
Rose has graciously agreed to let me post some of her information from time to time here on PetSense.com. As an introduction, I'll be interviewing her on Conscious Living. The show date is July 28th. It airs live on Talkshoe.com and is then uploaded to Empower Radio. I hope you will enjoy this new addition.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
When I lost my last barn cat at the end of May 2009, I swore that I was done with cats. No barn; no need of anymore cats.
Crystal had been my little healer cat. Even though an outdoor barn cat, she slept with me every night for the first year after my Ex left me. Her purr calmed and soothed me. Those penetrating eyes opened my heart to the possibility of another cat. After all, she’d gone to a lot of trouble to incarnate again. I couldn’t ignore that.
It turned out that kitten had been spoken for. My friend would ask her friend if she would relinquish her. I knew the Universe was behind all this, and the kitten would find her way back to my home. I heard two days ago that this gracious woman wouldn’t stand between two old friends.
While I was waiting for confirmation, names kept swirling around in my head, but none seemed appropriate. As I gazed at my desktop, I heard, “Smudge.” I loved it. She looks like she’d been smudged with paint. But more appropriately, I thought of smudging with Sage to cleanse and purify negative energies.
I’m not sure whether the name came from the kitten, my guides & teachers or my soul, but it is perfect. Smudge is a combination of browns and black, which color-coordinates her with Hana and Saba. In 48 hours, I’ve gone from saying never to being excited about welcoming an old friend back into the family. Never, say never!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Two weeks ago, I was weed-whacking around the house I thought I’d be living in for the rest of my life. I’ve been responsible for the property since my Ex left six years ago. Its care has provided me with quite a lesson in patience.
After spending three hours getting the house area in order, I started thinking about the work waiting around the large steel building below the house. This job requires two visits to complete. My body simply can’t handle doing it all at once.
I think my disappointment that it hasn’t sold along with being another year older made the job overwhelming. I started to consider a lawn mower even though less than 50% of the job can handle a mower. As I drove the half hour back to my log house, I struggled with the decision. If I’m going to spend the money, I want a self-propelled mower, which might cost $300. I hadn’t considered one previously, because I hadn’t expect to be caring for the property for so long.
I waffled back and forth between the financial investment and the physical drain on my body and psyche. Just having to deal with this situation rekindled resentment for the person who left me in this predicament; resentment I thought I’d let go of.
As I came around the last curve before home, three deer stood in the middle of the road. They just stared at me. I smiled broadly and said, “Thanks.” I received their message, “Be gentle with yourself,” loud and clear. Three deer reflects an exclamation point at the end!
My decision was made with Nature’s gentle nudge. I searched Sears online, who was having a sale for one more day. I called my Sears store, who had one mower left of the type I wanted; coincidental? I finished the job in less time with less strain on my body.
Help comes in many ways; from our minds, hearts, friends, families, and yes, even from Nature. Are you taking advantage of the help being offered to you?
*Note from Wendy - today's column is later than I usually upload but the editor won't allow me to post the photo and I had hoped by waiting that whatever issue would be resolved. I will add the photo when I can. Nancy has an absolutely beautiful place and the picture is worth seeing. - Changed the browser and it worked!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
US rock star Lou Reed and his artist wife Laurie Anderson said they have experience making music for at least one dog - their rat terrier, Lollabelle.
"She likes things with a lot of smoothness but with beats in them,'' Ms Anderson told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Inspiration for the performance at the Vivid Live festival in Sydney came while she was backstage at an event and thought: "Wouldn't it be great, if you were playing a concert and you look out and you see all dogs?"
The show, created by Ms Anderson, will last for 20 minutes as she says "dogs don't have a giant concentration span".]
This isn't the first attempt to woo the canine crowd for Lou, according to DJ legend and longtime music fan/now internet radio guru Randy Raley, (re: Lou Reed). Randy says
"he did it for a whole album with "metal machine music" it was music only dogs
could hear." Wanna hear it? Here now, -- wincing is optional.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
My BFFs Turn Four
Four years ago Memorial Day was on May 28th. I was on a spiritual adventure to Mt Shasta, which was the culmination of the healing journey that comprises my book, Letting Go.
I received a message that the Lab pups I’d been anticipating had been born, which makes last Friday their 4th birthday.
It was perfect timing for me and Licorice, my last remaining Lab. Despite contradictory information from a channeled session, Licorice chose to transition two weeks before the pups arrived home. My heart kept telling me Licorice wouldn’t wait for the pups, but who was I to question an Archangel? Licorice’s parting lesson was to trust myself.
My new partners, Hana & Saba, picked up right where Licorice and Shadow left off. Albeit pups, they began teaching right away and haven’t stopped. Still vulnerable from two years of intense personal trauma, I needed these two desperately. The pups quickly taught me that I could love again and that I deserved to be loved; powerful lessons both. Their unconditional love has returned me to the strong, happy woman who left her beautiful farm in New Jersey six years ago.
The yellow fellow, Hana, is in his fourth lifetime with me. His soul has been teaching, supporting and loving me since 1977. There are no words to express the appreciation I feel for his presence in my life. His black brother, Saba, is in this life for the first time. However, I was told that we’d spent many, many lifetimes together. Given the depth of love that developed so quickly, it must be true.
Their personalities complement each other perfectly. While Hana is mischievous and always challenging me, Saba is sensitive, sweet and very nurturing. They remind me to embrace my child-like sense of play and not work so hard. They are a constant source of joy, which keeps me smiling.
It’s hard to imagine that they’ve been caring for me for four years. While I’m doing quite well without a husband, I simply wouldn’t survive without my horse, Stormy, and these constant companions, my BFFs, Saba & Hana. “Boys, I am forever in your debt!”
Are your pets your BFFs?
Photo Credit: Nancy Kaiser
~ Samuel Butler