- Mental Health
Our Pets Telling About Our Emotional Identity
No Pet Experience to Brag About
Well, I don't have a dog, a cat, a hamster, a bird, or a python - and that should suffice to disqualify me from writing on a topic of pets. But, I do fancy to know a couple of things about their human owners; so drop a pet or two into their life and there I go with my story.
Should any of you have a croc or a python basking on your balconies please don't mind my reducing the list of pets to those that bark and meow - while I am also delighted to admit how I have never bothered even coming near anything big that crawls around.
That would include their owners, of course, but such individuals probably have a soft side in their personalities for the pristine, wild nature - which is just my wild guess. (no pun intended)
Oliver and Cesar
It is not to help my resume even a bit, but for a short while we actually had a cat, Oliver, that my son's girlfriend brought to him. Did I just say to "him"? - because before we all knew it, he became everybody's nightmare. Nightmare is a proper word, as in the middle of the night - I guess, out of his being bored - he would keep bouncing off our bedroom door until we would let him in.
That must have been one of the least smelly reasons to give myself a solemn promise never to have a pet. Later on I may surprise you with my true feelings for animals, but for now, suffice it to say that both my wife and I enjoy regularly watching "Dog Whisperer" with Cesar Millan, and we never miss a documentary about the safari wildlife.
To me it turned out to be particularly educational, since it's more about retraining the owners than their pets. Fascinating stuff, indeed, when you think of domesticated animals being able to somehow perceive their masters' emotional energy. But more about it later on.
Owner's Inner Child Symbolized by Pet
After some casual observation of those pet owners that I had a chance to meet and hear in my life, it occurred to me as a possibility that on their unconscious level their pet represented a projection of their emotional self.
How we deal with our inner emotion child - do we correct it in a rough manner by suppressing its "tantrums"; or we tend to gently pamper it; or we insist on its proper training to make it acceptable to our precious ego - we are symbolically projecting it on our pet.
So, every time you are feeding, grooming, playing with, correcting, or otherwise interacting with your pet, simultaneously communicating with your inner child. It is your right brain hemisphere, intuitive and artistic, close to your heart that's embracing other living forms and the vibes you are sharing with them. Since that hemisphere is nonverbal, and deals with symbolisms, pictures, metaphors, the nakedness of your pet represents a deep need of your emotional self to "hang out" freely in its most genuine, naked form - no phony human cosmetics.
As your dog looks at you with that loyal devotion and love, your heart resonates with that same pure love, and there is that instant chemistry of total sincerity that's hard to match with a human. And that's why you love your dog.
Big Dog for Big, often Unexpressed Heart
Being a believer in human unique individuality I am not prone to generalizing about people, and won't start it now either. So, if you don't recognize yourself in the following matching of some pet owners and their pets, don't take it too seriously, those are merely some of my observations, not ambitious to be a science carved in stone.
A dog owner may have his own emotional signature revealing itself in the type of his dog. I noticed that many folks with huge and strong dogs usually need an inner empowerment, their emotionality needing a protection from intrusive advances of others into their lives.
They seek a stability, security, and more often than not they are sensitive folks with an outgoing, assertive front warding off unwanted closeness. They may also exhibit a competitive, stubborn nature, as they are trying to balance their hidden sensitivity with an outward strength.
Preferring Dogs with Ugly Faces
It's quite interesting to see so many dog lovers opting for those ugly dogs with smashed-in faces or some other features that are not of a classical dog's beauty of a German shepherd or golden retriever, those types with "normal" faces.
I could detect in their owners a need to give love to a part of their own nature that didn't feel lovable by either parents or by general social norms. People with a rebel trait in them, or those who carry an old hurt of a rejection are some of the candidates to buy an ugly faced dog, because they may find something therapeutic in that warm closeness to it.
Small Pets to Calm You Down
Small dogs, or cats for that matter, symbolize your need for love, appreciation, and a gentle treatment. Since most pet owners share some general characteristics, you are also of a sensitive nature, but unlike a big dog owner your particular individuality finds peace much easier in a purring of a cat than in a big dog stretched by your feet.
You have more of a subtle nature corresponding to that one of a cat or a small, cuddly dog. Just like those little creatures you are ready to move at any moment and do whatever needs to be done, but then in a great need to unwind from it as fast as possible, and do as little as possible.
The gentle, dreamy nature of your cat is your constant inspiration, and if you happen to be a small dog owner, you like the fact that it lives with you in the house, follows you everywhere, and jumps on your lap at TV watching time. You are likely to baby-talk to your pet, probably not aware that you are baby-talking to your inner child to lull it into security and peace.
Tough Dog Owners
How you are treating your dog reveals quite a bit about how you are treating your inner child, or your emotional self. So some of dog owners are tough with their dogs, showing a tendency to intimidate and suppress their emotionality which doesn't seem to serve well their precious ego. They see much of their emotionality as a nuisance, also unconsciously scared that their true emotionality would be visible to others.
They like to think of themselves as "no-nonsense", down to earth personalities, and they don't seem to be particularly endowed with tactfulness, tolerance, and patience. They usually don't come up with a rosy disposition, tend to be poker-faced, which is a sign of their inhibited gentle nature.
There is that old saying in psychology: "When you try to kick your true nature through the door, it rushes back through the window" - hence their steady unpleasant mood and attitude.
Dog, a Family Member
There are those happy family dogs who accept everyone around for their "alpha", or a master. Such a dog doesn't discriminate between father and that ten year old kid, as they all feed it, play with it, give it a treat, take it for a walk, so it is obeying them all equally.
Such dog's purpose in that family is to externalize and symbolize their fam ily closeness. As they all care for that dog, they are equally caring for that emotional glue which keeps them on the same page of their family values.
By the way, I just noticed how I am using the pronoun "it", instead of "he", while talking about a dog, which obviously shows that I am not into pets. Namely, every time when I make a mistake of using "it" for one of my grownup son's six cats when we visit him, he corrects me with an offended voice, requesting that I use the cat's name or "she/he".
The same I notice with all pet's owners, who treat their pets as family members, not the way I see them as merely animals.
Nervous Owners - Nervous Dogs
What quickly becomes obvious from Cesar Millan's TV show "The Dog Whisperer" (now changed to "Cesar 101") - nervous and misbehaving dogs pick up their nervousness from their masters. As I was watching episode after episode, that gave me an idea that - just as dogs are "spying" on their masters' "alpha" energy expressed by their posture, so it could be true that our inner child is spying on those same indicators of the master's security. When that energy of inner power is low, our inner child exhibits some signals of nervous insecurity, which is also detectable to dogs, probably through a scent in our sweat.
Then, as soon as we assume a posture of confidence and assertiveness, calm and power, with a chin up, chest out and a straight back, breathing deeper and regularly, both our inner child and the dog calm down.
This idea got its support with another short You tube video, showing how only two minutes of such a confident posture and breathing significantly raise our blood reading of free testosterone, a hormone that affects our sense of personal power, confidence, and courage.
I Love other People's Pets
For an epilog to this article I'd like to submit that I love animals, but of course - selectively. Meaning that of all insects I like butterflies and I find lady-bugs cute. I can't stand the sights of snakes, crocks and turtles, while birds and bambies melt my heart, and more or less I like all other animals; and the older I am getting, the more I am campaigning in my mind to some day soon stop eating any of them.
As for dogs and cats, I love them too, as long as they belong to someone else. Namely, for some strange flaw in my nature I get fed up with them too fast, and then they become only an obligation and a chore - think of expense as well when they grow old and sick.
Our family in Los Angeles, between two generations, have six dogs, and as we are visiting now almost every year or two, I am always looking forward to play with little havanese, that purse-dog Lola. Also I like giving a hug to that monster of unclear mixed breed Kilo.
I find it flattering that Kilo remembers me every time, without showing any intention to bite off a chunk of me after my long absence. It's good to know that his nose can still recognize my scent, or is it my aftershave that he likes.
Anyhow, like I said at the beginning: no pets for me, which somehow reminds me of a scene from "Home Improvement" series, when Tim says to his wife after she announces her wish to have a dog: "No, honey, please, no pets. That's why we had kids, they last longer". Now, while that was not my motivation to have kids, I still like the line.