Psychological Problems In Animals
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Someone shared an email with me full of cute pictures of dogs who had gotten into trouble. The above picture was one of them, and it got me to thinking about how animals often exhibit many of the same or very similar psychological problems that humans exhibit.
I am sure many dog owners have gone through the heartache of dealing with a dog who has separation anxiety. It can be very frustrating and in some cases heartbreaking. When the owner goes away, the dog has the equivalent of a panic attack. This usually occurs in dogs that are closely bonded to their owner. Sometimes the dog will go so far as to tear a hole in the door or break out windows in their effort to find their owner. They tear up carpet, rip furniture to shred and tear trash from one end of the house to the other and sometimes go to the bathroom in the house even though they might be house trained. They are frightened and frustrated. I had a dog like this one time and I would take her to work with me to keep her from tearing my home up. As long as she was alone in the car she was fine, she seemed to know I was close. Yet if I left her home alone I was sure to return to a trashed house. Then I was told to lock her in my bedroom, as my scent was strongest in that room. Since I worked at night and slept in the day I had heave blankets on the windows to keep the room dark. When I would go to work I would lock her in and leave the radio going and leave the cats in there as well for company. She never tore that room up...not even a little.
I have a kitten right now that is about a one and a half years old. This kitten has been raised by me since she and her mother and siblings came into my care when they were 4 weeks old. We think she is, well, to put it politely, mentally challenged. She knows she has nothing to fear from anyone in this house, yet I call her freaky kitty, because every little thing scares her...and not just scares but really freaks her out. I am the only one she trusts totally without reservation...but then, I am mommy. We can't even bring ourselves to scold or get after her because we hate to scare her. And she is so innocent. In a way she knows she is not allowed on the counters...yet in chasing a fly she forgets herself and goes flying up there. Today she went after a fly and got distracted by some straws...oh how she loves straws.
That dog in the picture isn't the first time I have heard of a pet that hoarded. Think about what things make a human become a hoarder. My step dad is one. Especially when it comes to tools. He could care less if they are old and rusty or even broken, he lovingly goes through his collection every so often, gently sanding them clean. NO ONE is allowed to throw even the most wretched looking tool away. He also has issues with food. He panics when he thinks our food supply is getting to low. And what is to low to him is still more than enough for anyone else. He has brain damage from an accident he was in, and dementia as well. You have to know a person who hoards is not in their right mind. Normal, reasoning people understand the difference between enough and to much. But for a hoarder, they don't have that stop light to tell them when to stop. Usually such issues stem from something traumatic that happened to them. Child abuse, neglect, starvation, abuse by peers as a child...anything that feeds their insecurities making them worse and making them blow up out of proportion. As an adult they do not realize what they are doing is wrong until someone points it out to them. Even then they may deny it.
So what kind of trauma or insecurities would make a pet turn into a hoarder. Now, I do realize not all such instances are due to hoarding...some animals are born collectors...ravens are notorious for it as are raccoons and pack rats. For those cases that are due to hoarding...perhaps they are related to the separation anxiety. It is something to think about, in any case.