Posted by admin on Nov 5, 2011
By C.M Barrett, excerpted from Animals Have Feelings, Too: Bach Flower Remedies for Cats and Dogs, Copyright © 2011
Some people think that dogs and cats, because they were long ago wild animals, can simply be dumped and thrive in the outdoor world. This is a dangerous misconception. Over the eons of their association with humans, both dogs and cats have lost many of the traits that enabled them to survive as wild animals. Some of this is due to the selective breeding of pedigreed animals. Some of it comes from the reality that those puppies and kittens that seem friendly and docile are more likely to be adopted and thus have a better chance of surviving. Whatever part of their temperament is genetically based will be passed on.
The bottom line is that domesticated cats and dogs aren’t wild animals. Experts on feral cats say that their life expectancy is about two years. Dogs may live longer because of their tendency to form packs, but their way of life threatens their well-being and often that of humans. Rescued animals have a better chance of survival, but they need extra understanding and care.
Abandoned animals may have special issues about food. Cats or dogs born to a mother who was malnourished during her pregnancy will also be malnourished. They will need extra and high-quality nutrition, and they may at first act frantic about food.
In many cases the same remedy recommendations work for abandonment as work with abuse, and animals often have a history of both issues. They may be highly traumatized. The survival strategies that animals develop to cope with their situations can include aggression, withdrawal, fear, and other negative emotions and behaviors.
Star of Bethlehem. This is the most important Remedy for abused and abandoned animals. All animals (including humans) have the primary goal of surviving and avoiding pain. On this basic level, abused and abandoned animals have experienced severe difficulties in achieving this goal.
Every animal, again including humans, has what is called the primitive or reptilian brain. This brain knows three basic responses: flight, fight, or freeze. Fight and flight are self-explanatory, but the freeze response is more complex and is usually the origin of trauma. In the wild, this doesn’t often occur.
Domesticated animals (and humans) don’t always have access to this life-giving relief. When a chained dog with a natural tendency to obey its master is beaten by that same master, it may neither flee nor fight. Instead it will freeze. The freezing literally imprints the agonizing memory of the beating—and sadly, it may experience more than one—into its awareness. Anything that reminds the dog of that experience will throw it into the same helpless, suffering state.
Star of Bethlehem can help to heal traumatic memories. If you even suspect that these conditions may be part of an animal’s history, recommend it or administer it.
Holly. An animal traumatized by abuse can naturally learn to defend itself with an aggressive front. Animals that display extreme forms of aggression are not considered eligible for adoption.
This Remedy can help mild to moderate cases of aggressive behavior, especially if it is combined with one of the two primary remedies for fear. Holly can also be very valuable for animals that are aggressive in protecting their food supplies.
Mimulus. As you gain experience, you’ll find that close questioning about and observation of the particulars of an animal’s current behavior can
lead you to draw accurate conclusions about the source of its fear. Even if you don’t have specific information, though, the animal knows what frightens
it, and Mimulus, the Remedy for known fears, can be very effective.
Among the emotions abandoned animals may experience, the fear that they will be abandoned again predominates. Their human companions need to consistently give them affection and attention. The humans will also benefit from understanding some of the behavior patterns a previously abandoned animal acts out. These can include a high level of dependence and possessiveness. The animal may never want the new human out of its sight and may be particularly fearful when it senses that a human is going away, whether it’s for a few hours or a vacation. Once the animal’s fear has been addressed, the secondary behavior patterns often dissipate.
Aspen. This Remedy is for unknown fears. An abandoned animal remembers that life became uncertain and frightening once it was forced to be on its own. Abandonment also means a loss of a known environment. This particularly affects cats in terms of a familiar space, as felines are very territorial. A dog might be more affected by the loss of pack members, whether animal or human.
If you notice that an animal is generally fearful, but you can’t connect the fear to anything specific, Aspen is a good Remedy choice. In addition, since Remedies don’t have negative effects when not needed, it does no harm to give an animal both Mimulus and Aspen.
Overall, it’s important for the human companion to have realistic expectations about an abused and/or abandoned animal. Consistency and lots of affection can ease many of an animal’s fears, and essences can do a lot to help. All rescued animals have good chances to become approachable and affectionate pets.
The human, however, needs to realize that the animal may not turn into a tail-wagging or purring creature that loves every human in sight. It’s important for the human companion to accept the animal at each stage of its development in socialization. If the human is disappointed in the animal’s progress, the animal will realize this and may have self-esteem issues.
The best general advice for anyone who takes in a rescued animal is that any animal placed in a loving household is likely to improve considerably. Patience and loving understanding will help the animal grow in trust.
Fortunately, those who knowingly take on a cat or dog with a history of abuse are also those usually have the commitment and compassion to appreciate the courage and devotion of an animal that, regardless of its degree of socialization, has triumphed over great adversity.
Remedies for Humans Who Have Adopted an Abandoned or Abused Animal
The Remedies below are generally helpful when you have an animal whose behavioral/emotional issues may frustrate you.
- Impatiens. This teaches acceptance of the animal as it is and appreciation of its rate of progress, regardless of the length of time it may take.
- Beech. This Remedy helps to release any judgment one may feel about an abused or abandoned animal’s behavior.
- Pine. This Remedy can help if you are feeling guilty about either impatience of judgment. It also helps to remind yourself that you’re only human.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C. M. (Connie) Barrett has been a flower essence practitioner, teacher, and writer since 1990. She is a regular contributor to this ezine, and her articles have been printed in print and online journals around the world. She teaches four courses by email including Bach Flower Remedies: A User-Friendly Guide. She is also the author of the fantasy novel: Big Dragons Don’t Cry, Book I of A Dragon’s Guide to Destiny, and Book 2: Dance with Clouds. See her writing online at EFT Consultations.