Rescue Journal

one trick ponies

Carol  ·  Jan. 7, 2014 folks who like hanging out with animals...groomers, vets, shelter workers, rescuers, trainers et special words and labels to define and categorize problem animals.

fear aggressive, dominate, territorial, resource guarder..if you can define the animal by it's behavior then it is a simple matter of looking in a book or following some tried and true techniques and you can fix almost any problem.

the thing is...problems and issues in animals are symptoms of dysfunctional internal things...could be physical, could be mental, emotional or spiritual, could be several combinations of things but something(s) inside is not working properly.

so lets say I suffer from the answer as simple as taking a pill, going for a long walk everyday and attending a group yoga class to keep my mind and body and social skills in good shape?

or what if I suffered from an extreme fear of being alone..would the answer be to get me used to being confined in a very safe box or closet until my family came home?

as parents do we focus on the behavior or do we focus on the child as a whole?

almost every negative behavior is based on an internal self belief...I am in danger, I am going to be hurt, I am going to lose again, and sometimes when these beliefs become written in blood in their souls because they did become a reality so very many times, eventually they become helpless to a self image inside that says I am a victim, I am a loser, I am not worth anything better and they expect these unhappy things to happen to them in their lives.

how do you treat that with a pill, a crate and an obedience class?

two things are interesting about humans and problem dogs...we either miss the glaringly obvious (this food aggressive dog is hungry inside) and get pretty complicated while fixing it or we jump at the simple and obvious (this biting dog does not like kids) and the simple solution is find a home without kids.

if we miss the mark on the "why" it doesn't matter what we do or try..the animal is going to stay damaged inside.

rosie is not suffering from a broken heart, she is suffering from a mental and emotional breakdown. she doesn't give a shit about her family right now..all she cares about is her predictable world has fallen apart and turned upside down and she is in DANGER. and what do animals in danger do? they run, they hide, they lash out, they give up..fight, flight or freeze and sometimes they do all three.

healing rosie is not as simple as putting her in a new and better is too dangerous to move her while she is in the midst of such great and overwhelming suffering. and healing that sticks has to come from inside not externally from me. I can't train her suffering job is to help her change her belief.

animals are not pieces in a game of chess..if I do this, then they will do that..if I make all of the right moves by the book, I will win the game in the end. most likely not...not unless you can read your opponent and decipher his thoughts.

if behaviours are a symptom and I have an occasional headache, I take a Tylenol and it works. but if my headache stems from an underlying issue....high blood pressure, a sinus infection, low or high blood sugar...gawd forbid a brain tumor...a pill may mask the pain but it did not help it to go away.

we need to look closely at the animals themselves instead of just the behaviors they display. and we need to know how to pull the information we gather from them together because somethings have grown from one single seed, somethings have grown from many different seeds and we need to figure this out.

when we get sick, we don't always get sick just from one thing..oh shit man, I have the flu. maybe we got the flu because our immune system was down, maybe we have heart disease, diabetes and cancer inside too. or maybe we just have one thing, like the flu. its pretty important to know thing or a combination of things or else how can we possibly get better.

animals are sentient beings, not one trick ponies..they are not just a behavior for us to tinker with til we get some positive results..they are so much more than that...kind of like us.



I love this post, Carol. It's so true that many people try to find the easiest solution to a problem without trying to figure out what the issue actually is when it comes to behaviour problems in animals. One of my dogs from the SPCA has some fear issues and we focus on keeping him feeling safe, whatever that takes. He dislikes strange dogs, people, and anything that seems threatening (today he wouldn't walk past a metal post on the trail without me by his side). We don't have to know WHY the dog has the issues to begin with (we never will!) but learning how to help him cope with daily life is key to helping him be the best dog he can be. Not feeding into his fears is important, but so is recognizing that he genuinely feels nervous. We wouldn't ignore a child's fears, so why a dog's?


" while she is in the midst of such great and overwhelming suffering."

These words just break my heart, I hope that her healing comes quickly & she is able to accept the love that is waiting for her at SAINTS .