I am absolutely amazed and awed by the animal kingdom. Many a night I prefer to watch National Geographic Wild than any other shows. Over the last few years I have learned so much about how animals interact and how much smarter and compassionate they are. Therefore, I am increasingly appalled by how a percentage of humans still consider animals to not have any mental reactions when they are held captive or physically abused. Studies in animal behavior are showing more and more that psychological damage suffered by dogs living in puppy mills is profound and exists long after they’ve been rescued. Even when placed in loving homes with individuals who take great care to handle them with love and tenderness, many still have elevated levels of fears and phobias, and an inability to respond to affection. Anecdotal evidence has long shown that the dogs, lacking normal human contact and living predominately in cages often suffer from post-traumatic depression. When I took Psychology 101 in college they discussed something called Hospitalism which was a diagnosis used in the 1930s to describe infants who wasted away while in hospitals from lack of human contact. The symptoms could include retarded physical and mental development, and disruption of perceptual-motor skills and language. Many soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. The sounds and images of war and the actual involvement in being in a constant state of “fight or flight” leaves the brain more vulnerable and often unable to integrate into their former lives counseling and the love and understanding of friends and family. Many of the articles I have read about war and the toll it takes on mind/body and spirit seem so obvious. How could you not be influenced by being the witness to death and destruction? All of the above whether it involves animals, babies, children or adults continues to show us that our brains hold on to memories long after they have passed. We cannot simply erase them for they become who we are. I often wish I could remove thoughts that seem to have minds of their own. Round and round they go and they create feelings that can be positive or negative. Perhaps the day will come when there will be a global epiphany that realizes that kindness, respect, and compassion towards each other and our animal friends is the only way to live.
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