Feeling Down? Get UP!

 

I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.

― Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Hocus Pocus patiently waiting while I take her pic during our afternoon walk

Note: This blog post is available as a podcast. You can 🎙 listen to it here. 🎙


That’s my girl.  My sunshine.  My Smile.  My whole heaping heart.

When I am down, she lifts me. When I am frustrated she waits for me to become clear.  When I am sad she feels it.  When my boundaries are out of bounds, she reflects this back to me.  When I need space, she gives it.  When I grieve, she is near.  When I need a nudge to get out of my own way, she gently pushes. When I am stuck in the muck of my mind she pulls me out of it.

We walk.  We run. We explore. We laugh. We play.  We let go.

She is a light in the dark. She is a rock when I need rest.  She is unconditional love when I am forgetting to love. She is an angel disguised as a dog.

But most of all, she is my Joy.

I share this with you because we all need someone or something in our life who gives us these gifts.  We all need moments of levity, laughter, and love … 24/7.

Especially now. 

We need to remember there are beloveds by our side who are always holding space for our well-being.  These beloveds – if we let them – can help our mental, emotional, and physical health, especially during these trying times.

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The little conversation, well is over very soon
And I watch in admiration from my corner of the room
And they shine on you with starry eyes and they rain a friendly storm

“Little Conversations” by Concrete Blonde

Little Conversations and Invitations 

It’s time we pay closer attention.  If health concerns can be ruled out, there could be other conversations at hand. That persistent nudge; the constant chuffing; the incessant meowing; that annoying winning; the gentle tugging; those pleading soulful eyes …  are all an invitation.

We often dismiss these behaviors or label them as irritating, annoying or distracting, but what if these behaviors attempting to get your attention are more than what they appear to be?  What if sometimes they are an invitation to get up, move about, rethink, readjust, reevaluate, shift our energy, or get out of our own way?  What if these behaviors were reflecting back to you, what you need in that very moment?

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What do you think Hocus is asking me here, while I am working in my office?

Sure, it could just be a singular desire or need our animal family members are exhibiting:  Maybe he has to pee.  Maybe she’s bored.  Maybe he’s frustrated.  Maybe she’s hungry.  Maybe he wants the cake you left on the kitchen counter.  Of course, these are all perfectly logical explanations for various behaviors. And if you read this post, then you know that pain is a very common medical issue that can create or exacerbate behavior problems in our animal companions.

But what if sometimes, it’s also you, their guardian?

What if our furry, feathered, and scaly friends and family members are more in tune with us than we can possibly imagine?  What if they can read us like an open book?  What if our behavior, emotions, and energy are a beacon to them?  What if our sh*tty mood is a shout-out?  What if they instinctively and intuitively knew what we need in that moment?  What if they truly wanted the best for us always?

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Mr. Beaux at my desk … What do you think he’s asking me?

If you knew this was true, how would you respond?  What would you do?  Would your choices be influenced?  Would your behavior change? Would your emotions change?

It’s worth considering.

And it’s  worth questioning everything. –Every thought. Every belief. Every emotion.

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My Cherokee heritage teaches (much like some of the eastern philosophies) that nothing outside of us is separate from us.  They believe that the world which appears to be outside is merely a mirror, reflecting back to us.  It’s taken me years to even consider this as a possibility, but I am starting to see. I am questioning everything, and staying open with a curious mind. I invite you to stay open and stay curious too, especially when it comes to your critters. 😉

 

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
― Albert Einstein


New Perspective

All philosophy set aside, we have incredible beings by our side who are ready, willing, and able to pull us out of the swamps of sadness.  We have loved ones who may annoy the crap out of us sometimes, but there is a method in the madness.  The only thing we need to do is open the invitation we’ve been given.  Just being willing to look at something from a different perspective can change our worlds.  Our furry family members (and Mother Nature) have helped me to better recognize when I need to shift my mood, my mind, my thoughts, and my behavior.  Sometimes I have to get pulled hard by them, dragging and screaming, but eventually I see clearly.

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Atreyu doing all he can do pull Artax, his beloved horse, out of the Swamps of Sadness

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Other than the incredible colors of Autumn, like many people, I really dislike the time change.  As the days get shorter and the long, dark nights of late fall and winter settle in, many folks find their mood getting darker, too.  As someone who dealt with depression for two thirds of my life, I have incredible empathy for souls who get sad.  And at this time of year we see more of it.

Did you know ….?

  • Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide
  • It’s a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.
  • Over 16 million people in the U.S. (6.7 percent of the pop) experience more than one episode of major depression during a year.
  • A further 5 percent live with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression.
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my husband and I might have had this exact conservation

The symptoms of SAD are so similar to those of depression that it can sometimes be hard to distinguish between the two.  SAD, also known as winter blues, typically affects women. In fact, 4 in 5 people with the condition are women, and the reasons for this predisposition are likely to be genetic.  However, while some people are genetically prone to the condition, they resist the environmental factors that might trigger it.

SAD is defined as a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter.  Symptoms of the “Winter Pattern” of SAD include:

  • Low energy
  • Hypersomnia
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving for carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)

I laughed out loud when I read those symptoms, because who doesn’t feel like that in the winter?!?  Hell, I feel like that when the temp drops below 60! 😀  I mean, come on. Who wants to eat a carrot stick or bowl of broccoli when it’s cold and rainy?!  And who doesn’t love to hibernate in the winter?!

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Hocus Pocus hibernating in our bed on a cold morning

All creatures want comfort when we are cold.  We all want to feel good when we feel bad.  And everyone has various methods for curing their ailments.  The point is, it’s important to recognize when we are feeling down, and then do something about it. We gotta address the “down”.

daylight savings time meme


Don’t Stay Stuck!

Wildfires, geopolitical insanity, and the fear-mongering the media sells, are all testing our resilience.  But so can seasonal changes.  Whether or not you’re affected by the weather, many are.  So if we become aware of these seasonal challenges we can help others.  There are four medical types of treatment for SAD:

  • Medication
  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Vitamin D

Those are the medical treatments, but there are other tools, too!  I used to take meds (which helped), but I weaned myself off of it many years ago.  Instead of the meds, I replaced big pharma by meditating twice a day, began to question my thoughts, went to Energy Medicine school,  got into acupuncture, discovered tools for Empaths, began taking Clearing Baths, practiced more self care, discovered why alcohol made my depression worse, increased my exercise, played more, created art, laughed more, became kinder to myself, and made sure my “tribe” was tight.

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Empaths feel things first, then think, which is the opposite of how most people function in our over-intellectualized society. – Dr. Judith Orloff

Even if you, your family member, coworkers, neighbors, or friends are not a HSP or an Empath, we all have emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental challenges. But we also have fabulously effective tools to Get Up and Get Out of our funk!  If each person began practicing just one of those tools I listed above we’d feel better.

I promise.

Here’s a helpful fact … Seasonal depression is caused by insufficient daylight, making the condition more widespread in countries that are farther from the Equator.  A new study in Copenhagen, Denmark,has discovered the power of daylight as a natural antidepressant. (You can read the details in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.)

 

Daylight is effectively a natural antidepressant. Like many drugs currently used against depression, more daylight prevents serotonin from being removed from the brain.

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soaking up the sun with my best girl pal

So what does that research quote tell you?  To me, it says that one of the most powerful (free) tools/resources we have to feel better, stay healthy, and increase our mental and emotional health is something we have access to every day … the sun.  We all need to be outside more. We all need to play more. We all need to soak up the sun’s healing rays.

I wish we all would.  Everyone.  Every day.

Thankfully, our beloved Hocus Pocus and Mr. Beaux don’t let a single day go by without going outside. -Even when it’s the last thing I want to do :/  But after I do go outside and have an adventure with them (even when it’s cold-as-all-get-out), I am so damn happy that I did.  I am so unbelievably grateful they pulled me away from work, or out of my comfort zone to get outside and play.  My energy and mood shifts completely.

And because We Are One, so does theirs 😉

Below is a video I was inspired to create after I had been in a heavy funk.  Hocus, as always, (and unlike no other) once again, pulled me out of the muck of my mind with her puppy-like persuasive ways and means …

 

All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day
And all I ever knew
Only you

-Yaz


From Suffering to Joy

We all have natural healing tools available around the world.  It’s quite true that “Nature Heals”.  Our animal friends know this.  Our bodies and brains crave daylight; this energy not only allows the body to release the “feel-good hormone”, serotonin, but walking outside during the day (even when it’s cold) will give you vital sun exposure.

And on an energetic level, it’s important to recognize that nature exists in a constant state of nonresistance.  Mother Nature feels like home to many of us because her vibration is pure. 🌊 Our energy is most aligned to its highest and pure essence when we are immersed in nature. We are most grounded in nature.  So are our animal friends.

They know this. They feel it, too.

But have you noticed that we also feel this way when we are in the presence of our animal companions?  They are the embodiment of Unconditional Love!

Joy is our true state of being; all else is an illusion we’ve bought into. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with this illusion, but is it how we really want to feel?  Do we want to live life feeling down every day or do we want to be free?

I choose freedom.

I choose to remember that my beloveds want this for me, too.  The ones we often take for granted are doing their best to help us.  We can wake up from our funk when we start to realize that feeling joy, gratitude, and love, and being playful is our inherent nature. We can choose a new way of being every moment of the day.

We can get up and get outside.  Right Now 😉

Be well.  Be Kind.  And be Good to each other.  Stay open to miracles in the mind and remember to laugh and play, friends!

 

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” 
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Exploring the Redwood National and State Park with Hocus

 

“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” Alan Wilson Watts


Recommended Reading:


Autumn Colors_fall Leaves_Khalil Quotes_Conscious Companion_dog life.jpg

Explore More At Our Website!


And in the infamous words of George Michael …

What’s there to think about, baby? … Gotta get up to get down

Animal Emotions and That Icky Sticky Fear

animal emotions

 “Lacking a shared language, emotions are perhaps our most effective means of cross-species communication. We can share our emotions, we can understand the language of feelings, and that’s why we form deep and enduring social bonds with many other beings. Emotions are the glue that binds.” ― Bekoff

 

Ants teach.  Earthworms make decisions.  Rats are ticklish.  Chimps grieve.  Horses understand and react to human facial expression.  Some dogs have a thousand-word vocabulary.  Birds practice songs in their sleep.  Mice and rats show empathy.  Crows use tools.  Jays plan ahead.  Moths remember being caterpillars.  Cats are worlds wiser than your iPad.

What else will we learn about animals today?

 


In my last post I discussed how our personal and collective fears affect progress, success, and peace with our pets and within ourselves.  This follow up post is intended to help you to become aware of the range of emotions that animals can experience.  When we begin to see our pets as conscious beings who can experience deep and profound emotions we are better equipped with the knowledge and empathy to help them, when life challenges arise.  My hope is that you learn something here so you and your animal companions can live a more fulfilling and peaceful life together, no matter what comes your way.


Emotional Beings

Most people believe that animals have some emotions.  But there is a lot more happening within animals than most realize. Did you know that some animals, when faced with stressors, often respond in body and mind the way humans do? It’s really amazing.

Let’s take a look at what emotions are.

From the scientific perspective, emotions are the internal changes in the body (hormones, adrenal glands, etc.) that cause changes in expression (the animal’s external behavior), and the thoughts and feelings that accompany them.  From the layman’s perspective, they are feelings one experiences in the mind that affect one’s mood and body.

Emotions have evolved as animal adaptations in many species.  Emotions serve as a “social glue” to bond animals together.  Emotions also regulate a wide range of social encounters among both friends and competitors.  Emotions allow animals to protect themselves by using numerous behavior patterns in a wide variety of settings.

To assume that animals are incapable of experiencing the same kinds of fears and stresses that we as humans experience is a common pitfall and misconception of pet parents.  Animals are very capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions!  Like us, many companion animals can and do experience a range of basic emotions such as happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, grief, and surprise.

“Common sense and intuition feed into and support science sense, and the obvious conclusion is that at least mammals experience rich and deep emotional lives, feeling passions ranging from pure and contagious joy shared so widely among others during play that it is almost epidemic, to deep grief and pain. There also are recent data that show that birds and fish also are sentient and experience pain and suffering.”


love hormone_animal emotions_conscious Companion


Sentient Beings

We are hearing more often these days that animals are “sentient beings”, but what is sentience? What does this mean?

“Sentient animals may be aware of a range of sensations and emotions, of feeling pain and suffering, and of experiencing a state of well being. Sentient animals may be aware of their surroundings and of what happens to them.”

-CIWF

Sentience is the ability to feel or perceive the world around you and as a result have subjective experiences (i.e. good, bad or neutral experiences). In its most basic sense, sentience is the ability to have sensations and as a result have experiences which then may be used to guide future actions and reactions.

Animal Emotions_fear


Similar Brain Structures

Thanks to research with imaging studies we now know that some animals have many of the same brain structures, hormones, and neurotransmitters that humans do. Just like humans, animals have temporal, occipital, frontal and parietal lobes of their cerebral cortex. Each region is connected in the same way. We’ve also learned that emotions are centered in the limbic system, (known as the mammalian brain). We also know that emotions such as fear, frustration, and anger drive a lot of unwanted behaviors in animals (just like in people!)

Neuroscientific research has even shown, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, that elephants have a huge hippocampus. This is a brain structure in the limbic system that’s important in processing emotions. We now know that elephants suffer from psychological flashbacks and likely experience the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder.


Animals’ Advanced Abilities 

Most people believe that a human’s ability to communicate is far more complex and evolved than that of other species, but cetaceans have us beat. Cetaceans have several sound producing organs. They are capable of conveying and receiving 20 times the amount of information as we can with our ability to process sounds!  This surpasses the amount of information we can perceive based on vision (a human’s primary sense).

Research with cetaceans has even discovered that the frontal and temporal lobes (which are connected by their function in speech production and language processing) are capable of astounding abilities.  Communication is so spectacular in cetaceans that scientists believe there is a strong possibility that this species is able to project an “auditory image.” via sonar messages they receive.  The researches at MSU claim, “A dolphin wishing to convey the image of a fish to another dolphin can literally send the image of a fish to the other animal. The equivalent of this in humans would be the ability to create instantaneous holographic pictures to convey images to other people.”

Yeah.  So that’s happening in the ocean and in captivity.  Just let that sink in for a moment.

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Pets, People, and the Mind’s Landscape

Could our pet’s mental map be similar to ours? According to researchers at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, the physical structure of our brain and that of felines are very similar.  Cats have the same lobes as we do in the cerebral cortex (the “seat” of intelligence).  And our brains function the same way, by conveying data via identical neurotransmitters.

In the region of the brain which controls emotion, they are similar as well.  Cats have a temporal, occipital, frontal and parietal lobe in their brains, just as we do.  Additionally, cat brains also contain gray and white matter and the connections within their brains seem to mirror those of humans.

We also know that cats’ brains release neurotransmitters in a similar pattern to that of humans when confronted with information from their five senses.  Cats also have a short-term and long-term memory, and are able to easily recall information from up to 16 hours in the past.  Researchers are even studying cats’ Brain structures and neurotransmitters that regulate aggression to learn more about the implications for human aggression.

Recently through MRI research doctors have discovered that dogs and humans both house impulse control in the same area of the brain. Both human and dog brains by the prefrontal lobes, but in dogs this area is much smaller relative to brain size.  There is an actual link between the level of self-control a dog has and the behavior they display. Dogs who have more brain activity in their frontal lobes, tend to have more self-control and are better able to control their behaviors, reactions, and responses to stimuli in their environment.

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Brain region in dog prefrontal cortex for impulse control.


The Workings of the Inner Clockwork

All mammals (including humans) share neuroanatomical structures: The amygdala and hippocampus and neurochemical pathways in the limbic system that are important for feelings.  Let’s look at two areas of the brain to better understand the commonalities of the inner clockwork:

  • The Amygdala: The “Emotion Processing Center”:  There are two almond-shaped areas in the human brain that control emotional responses. The most common function of the amygdalae involves synthesizing fear responses from the environment. Animals also have amygdalae that initiate emotional responses such as fear.

 

  • The Hippocampus:  Where Memories Trigger Emotions: The hippocampus is the area in the brain where long-term memories are stored.  The hippocampus feeds directly to the amygdala.  Scientists believe that this is why a flood of strong emotions often follows after we recall a vivid memory.

Our companion animals also have a hippocampus.  If your pet had a fearful experience before, and the sight of something reminds her of that situation, the information from her sensory cortex triggers the memory in her hippocampus, which communicates with her amygdala, which then floods her with fear.princess Amidala_fear_cats_dogs_pet brains

They have found that with dogs who are experiencing the emotion of anger, the amygdala and hippocampus play key roles. When these systems become overactive, they cause the amygdala pathway to bypass the cortex entirely.  This results in an animal who will literally react without thinking.  Ahem, Hocus Pocus and King Albert can both attest to this.  And I know of a cockatoo who lives in this state during the peak hormonal months!

But don’t we all have the ability to react this way at some point in our lives?  I find it fascinating that our animal companions have this hard-wiring as well. 

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Primary amygdalar nuclei and basic circuit connections across species.

 


Emotions and the Autonomic Nervous System At Work

When an animal looks at the world, he or she is confronted with an overwhelming amount of sensory information—sights, sounds, smells, and so on.  After being processed in the brain’s sensory areas, the information is relayed to the amygdala, which acts as a portal to the emotion-regulating limbic system.  Using input from the individual’s stored knowledge, the amygdala determines how they should respond emotionally—for example, with fear (at the sight of a predator or stranger), in affection or love (at the sight of their beloved person walking in the door) or indifference (when facing something trivial).

Messages cascade from the amygdala to the rest of the limbic system and eventually reach the autonomic nervous system, which prepares the body for action.  If the animal is confronting a threat, her heart rate will rise.  Her body might sweat in some areas to dissipate the heat from muscular exertion.  The autonomic arousal in turn, feeds back into the brain, amplifying the emotional response.  Over time, the amygdala creates a salience landscape, a map that details the emotional significance of everything in the individual’s environment.

This internal mind map is a reminder of how to stay safe and alive.

When a threat is perceived, the body’s brilliant sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear. The body then releases hormones that are responsible for either Fight or Flight. The hormones are adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. These hormones serve a very important purpose: They increase chances of survival.

“Fight or flight is a body’s primal response to anything one perceives a threat, hazard or danger; it is an immediate release of hormones to pump up our body to fight or run from a threat, whether that threat is perceived or real.”

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Fear Digs In Deep.

There are some fascinating facts when it comes to the subject of fear. We now know that negative experiences effect the brain more deeply than positive experiences.  Fear sinks in deep.  And it holds on tight.  Once a learner (us or an animal) learns that something is scary, should be avoided, or becomes a trigger, the negative effects can be long lasting and hard-wired in the brain.

Remember when that creep who wore a clown costume to your friend’s birthday party when you were a kid?  Or what about that roach that crawled on you once while you were sleeping as a child?  How do you feel about roaches and clowns today?  It just takes one negative experience and that fear sticks to our minds like super glue.

Animals are not unlike us when it comes to how fear can set in and grab a tight hold in their minds.


Fear from Watching

Did you know that both people and pets can learn to be fearful of something, someone, or somewhere just by watching another animal or person?  The amygdala plays a critical part in the physical expression of a fear response in humans as well as animals.  Scientists have shown that the amygdala responds when a person or animal exhibits fear through observing someone else experiencing a fearful experience. This means that the amygdala is involved in learning to fear something even without directly experiencing the aversive event. Animals can merely observe something fearful and learn to be afraid of that person, place, or event!

Knox In His Box


The Scent of Fear

You know that phrase, “I can smell fear a mile away!”, or “They can smell your fear.”?  Well, it turns out there is some truth to that.  Researches in 2014 discovered that young animals have the ability to learn fear in the first days of life. Just by smelling the odor of their distressed mother.  And this doesn’t pertain to just “natural” fears; If a mother experienced something before pregnancy that made her fear something specific, her offspring will quickly learn to fear it too. How? Through her odor when she feels fear.

When the odor of the frightened rat mother was piped in to a chamber where her offspring were located and the juvenile rats were exposed to peppermint smell, they developed a fear of the scent of peppermint. Their blood cortisol levels rose when they smelled it! I mean, come on! How incredible is that?!

“During the early days of an infant rat’s life, they are immune to learning information about environmental dangers. But if their mother is the source of threat information, we have shown they can learn from her and produce lasting memories,” says Jacek Debiec, M.D., Ph.D., the U-M psychiatrist and neuroscientist who led the research.

“Our research demonstrates that infants can learn from maternal expression of fear, very early in life,” he adds. “Before they can even make their own experiences, they basically acquire their mothers’ experiences. Most importantly, these maternally-transmitted memories are long-lived, whereas other types of infant learning, if not repeated, rapidly perish.”

fear learned

Credit: Image courtesy of University of Michigan Health System

But wait. There’s more.  The scientists exposed the rat pups of both groups of mothers to the peppermint smell, under many different conditions with and without their mothers present.  Fear still occurred.

Using special brain imaging, studies of genetic activity in individual brain cells, and cortisol in the rat’s blood, they focused on the lateral amygdala as the key location for learning fears. Note: Later in life this area is responsible for detecting and planning a response to threats; that’s why it would also be the “hub” for learning new fears.

“But the fact that these fears could be learned in a way that lasted during a time when the baby rat’s ability to learn any fears directly was naturally suppressed, is what makes the new findings so interesting”, says the lead scientist, Debiec.

Their research even showed that the newborns could learn their mothers’ fears even when the mothers weren’t present.  Merely the scent of their mother reacting to the peppermint odor she feared was enough to make them fear the same thing.


Fear In Pheromones

Fear can be passed through scent glands.  Not only can pheromones be used to scent mark, attract mates, claim territory, find prey, and identify other animals, but they can be used as alarms.  Our dogs and cats can smell when fear is present in these glands.  I refer to these as FEAR-amones When they smell fear, they instinctively know to Get The Heck Out of Dodge.

sniffing-butt
Butt Sniffing : Think of this behavior as “speaking with chemicals”. It’s how dogs learn about another dog’s diet, gender, and even their emotional state!


 

Our Similar Structures

In An Odyssey with Animals: A Veterinarian’s Reflections on the Animal Rights & Welfare Debate Adrian Morrison provides a great description of just how mammalian and animal-like we humans are. As Morrison explains, we share common brain structures with other mammals:

My cat, Buster, and I both flinch and yowl or curse at a sudden painful stimulus, and our legs both jerk in response to a tap on the patellar tendon of the knee. The spinal organization of the neurons responsible for these activities is the same in cats as it is in humans.

Moving forward into the lowest part of the brain, in both Buster and me the same neurons control basic bodily functions, such as regulation of breathing, heart rate, and vomiting. Farther forward reside the nerve cells that regulate the behaviors of sleep and wakefulness, which are identical in humans and other mammals, and where dysfunction results in similar problems, such as narcolepsy … and REM sleep behavior disorder. In this brain region in all mammals are found the neurons containing the neurotransmitter dopamine, which degenerate in Parkinson’s disease.

At the base of the cerebral hemispheres is the almond-shaped amygdala, where mechanisms leading to fear and anxiety in people and animals operate. Monkeys and rats have contributed much to our understanding of the amygdala. The overlying cerebral cortex is where all of us mammals analyze the sensations coming from the skin, muscles and joints via the spinal cord, or eyes and ears in the cases of vision and hearing.

Where we depart from our animal brethren is in the great development of the front part of our cerebral cortex, the frontal lobes, and the greater proportion of cerebral tissue, called association areas, which integrate the information obtained from the regions that directly receive sensory information. These latter regions are called the primary sensory and motor areas because they receive simple, pure sensations and direct the movement of the body. It is within the frontal lobes that we humans mull over the past, prepare for the future, and reflect on its implications. Animals do not have this last capability in particular, as far as we can discern. Animals prepare for the future in a limited, instinct-driven way: Think of squirrels gathering and burying nuts for the winter. …

His last three sentences get right to the point of why I am sharing with you:  If we have the ability to plan, predict, and prepare, and our pets are instinctively coping, adjusting, and surviving this rollercoaster (we put them on), then we have a lot of work to do as their guardians.

If fear is sticky and hard to remove, then as animal guardians we need to know how fear sets in, how we can minimize or prevent it, and how to effectively remove it.  We have serious business at hand if we want them to live in our human world with minimal stress and fear, and with a maximum sense of security and safety.  If we want them to thrive, rather than merely survive, then we need to get to work.


Emotions Matter. 

The willingness to recognize that animals have emotions is key.  Their feelings matter, their fear is real to them.  Animals are sentient beings who experience the lows and highs of their live with us. We must respect this.

To continue with the status quo, because that’s what as always been done isn’t enough anymore. Now that we know more, we do more. Now that we know better, we must do better. For them. For us. For all species.

All that we once believed about animals has changed, and so should our relationships with the animals we live with, care, for and are stewards for.  When it comes to what we can and cannot do for animals, it is their capacity to feel, experience complex emotions that can be a catalyst for how we change the way we view them, and how we act on their behalf.


“Emotions are the gifts of our ancestors. We have them, and so do other
animals. We must never forget that”. ― Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy – and Why They Matter




My next post in this “Fear Series” will address both the causes and effects of of emotional and environmental stress on our pets, so stay tuned!

And the last post in this Fear Series will be chocked full of fun tips and techniques that you can implement to help your pets reduce their fears and live a fearless life!

Until then, I am going to plan, prepare, and be proactive about our upcoming Big Move with our animal companions!

All my love to you and yours.

-Amy & The Critter Krewe

 

All Creatures Great and Small

Butterflies
“Guard the life of another creature as you would your own because it is your own.  On life’s scale of values, the smallest is no less precious to the creature who owns it than the largest.” ~ Lloyd Biggle Jr.

Yesterday, December 14, marked one year ago that the tragedy Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut occurred.  I’m not bringing this up to focus on the sadness or pain that it brought so many, but I wanted to share something beautiful that came from it. One of the students at that school believed in a very simple but powerful message.  This student’s name is Catherine Violet Hubbard.  Her message was one of love and kindness.

Rather than trying to explain Catherine’s entire message in my words, I’ll let the video below share her message:

Click here to learn more about Catherine’s dream.

animal quotes, catherine butterfly

True benevolence or compassion, extends itself through the whole of existence and sympathizes with the distress of every creature capable of sensation. – Joseph Addison