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#407271 - 08/20/12 05:15 AM Pets and recovery
Lancer Offline

Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 901
Loc: Florida
I've put off posting this for a few days while I've gathered my thoughts because this is loaded for me (mods please note, if appropriate).

My pets have been incredibly important to me.

On one hand, I recall abusing them at the worst of my times. A lovely lab who didn't understand why I was kicking her (yep, following the abuse)...and I didn't understand either, except I knew I was mad as hell about something. Years later, at the worst of my depression, I kept my mixed shepherd locked in a basement which had its floor covered in feces, etc., because I couldn't deal with her enthusiasm and, yeah, unconditional love. I'll tell you guys, I've never been able to forgive myself for either...and it's hard for me to even write about it.

Switched to cats 25 years ago and have had nearly a dozen over the years. Perhaps I'm simply better suited to them. I particularly like that they're not so...well...codependent! But in my experience, you know damn well when they've adopted you.

(Don't get me wrong, dogs sense something about me and usually take to me immediately).

Since cats are smaller and, with humans, remain childlike and absolutely dependent on me, I know I have to be gentle and particularly nurturing with them.

One thing I never expected is that their companionship would save my life. I bring it up because feelings of suicide occasionally come up in the threads. I was seriously considering suicide ten years ago as my world was collapsing around me...loss of my business, foreclosure, bankruptcy. The main reason I didn't - strange as it sounds - is because I felt my "kids" would suffer the most: loss of "Dad", confusion, perhaps being separated from each other, etc. It was particularly true of my oldest, who passed peacefully 18 months later, I believe, having fulfilled his purpose in life, which was to save me.

Last year I was overwhelmed with my birthmother in the hospital twice in as many months, more work than I could handle and multiple hearings on a restraining order I was seeking (and got). Though not as devistating as my other experience, the suicidal thoughts were back again. I'd only one remaining cat (who, though elderly, is doing fine today but would never tolerate a new cat). Especially because I'm all he's got in the world, even the slightest thought of abandoning him like that was more than I could bear.

In both cases my thought was that, even if I didn't feel could stick around for myself, I absolutely must stick around for them.

The thoughts passed, btw. Having the "kids" around convinced me to stick it out just long enough - sometimes an hour at a time - to call the suicide hotline, in tears, in the middle of the night a couple of times. And they helped me stuck around long enough to hear a phrase which has resonated with me since about "a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

#407276 - 08/20/12 09:54 AM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
traveler Online   confused

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4221
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Lancer -

i don't minimize your feelings or experience at all. i am thankful that your "kids" kept you with us!

and i hope no one will be offended by my comparing my experience and feelings to yours. the last and most serious time that i considered suicide, it was the thought of my human kids that kept me from going through with it. i couldn't stand the thought of them growing up without a father - or heaven forbid - a step-father like mine.

and i don't want to hijack this either - just saying that i believe that pets can be every bit as important to people as literal kids.

thanks for telling this part of your story,
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#407323 - 08/20/12 08:23 PM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
Country Offline

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 654
Loc: Alabama
I have never really had sympathy for dogs or animals. Maybe my childhood hardened that in me. I have a dog and it is a good dog. After I faced recovery it is a little different now

Edited by Country (08/20/12 10:42 PM)
Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

#407324 - 08/20/12 08:35 PM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
bodyguard8367 Offline

Registered: 05/16/12
Posts: 1159
Loc: ""

Edited by bodyguard8367 (02/27/14 12:59 AM)
Edit Reason: SILENCED

#407338 - 08/21/12 12:05 AM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
Lancer Offline

Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 901
Loc: Florida
Nice sentiment Lee. Thank you.

#407376 - 08/21/12 06:25 AM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
learning2luvme Offline

Registered: 06/12/12
Posts: 50
Animals have always been apart of my life. One of my closest friends was a rabbit named Isabel that my friend Vannie gave me because he found him in a park and his Mom wouldn't let him keep it.

He was a dwarf bunny, all black with a white nose. After he grew up I realized he was a boy...but I still called him Isabel. That damn animal was so important to me. He had the personality of a cat...would sleep in my bed, he was potty trained and went in and out of the doggy door.

He thought our Irish setter, Hollie was his mate. When he wasn't sleeping in my bed, licking the tears from my face after having been abused by my perp, he would be laying next to the Irish Setter. It's like he knew...he knew I needed the comfort.

I had him for almost 14 years...even into college. The night he passed away from old age, my Mom called my then girlfriend and told her I would be pretty emotional. She loving came over to try and cheer me up but realized that night that she was in love with me because I cried when he passed away in my arms.

Now 23 years later...I don't have the rabbit, but I do have the most amazing spouse a guy could ask for.

Today I have a parrot named Lucy (who is a male)...go figure, my favorite cat named Simon who's old and majestic....and two weenie dogs.

I'm grateful for animals. I cannot begin to count how many times the cold nose of an animal helped to calm my fears, help me take a couple more steps, etc.

I wouldn't be here were it not for the unconditional love of my furry friends.

Thanks guys.

#407495 - 08/22/12 03:31 AM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
Lancer Offline

Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 901
Loc: Florida
Love the wet nose thing L2LM. I'll sometimes be roused from sleep by a wet nose buried in my hand. Had a Momma kitty years ago who'd sleep on my back and bury her nose in my ear, purring away. (Of course there was another who'd simply contentedly drool uncontrollably instead of purring...THAT was wet).

Sounds weird, but that's powerful emotional stuff for me. Thanks for the memory.

#407574 - 08/22/12 08:52 PM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
kpntreal Offline

Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 11
Loc: USA
To those of you who are pet savvy,
My English Springer has started something new. During our usual round the block walks, he now stops about 2/3 of the the way and simply sits down and ignores any invitation to continue on.
There is no panting or limping leading up to this, and he is in good health.I have to pick him up and carry him the rest of the way home.
This is the third time in the past 2 weeks that this has happened.

He has been a faithful rescue dog for the past 12 years and a great listener.

Does anyone have any ideas?

#407599 - 08/23/12 01:51 AM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: Lancer]
G5 Offline

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 204
Loc: New Jersey
Had my best friend Odie, a cat for 20 years. He was there through all of the deep, deep depression and suicidal times. I sometimes took my pain out on him with yelling or a push with the foot. But I cared for him always and did my best to make up for my short comings. He was a dear friend and companion and when I put him down after his long life with me, I cried like I never had before. I had had him for half of my life at the time.

I celebrated his life by adopting two new cats a short time after...Sam and Lilly are my new loves and they will be experiencing all the new joy that I wasn't able to express before in my past.

Pets help ground me. If Odie wasn't there for me, I might be dead...he was that important to me. I can't imagine not having a pet to love...

WoR Kirkridge '08
WoR Alta Advanced '09
International Conference '10, '12, '14
Oprah 200, and "Silence Buster" Contibuter
NYC Support Group
WoR Alta Advanced '12

#407664 - 08/23/12 06:18 PM * [Re: Lancer]
Smalltown80sBoy Offline

Registered: 03/26/12
Posts: 2217

Edited by Smalltown80sBoy (04/29/13 03:58 PM)

#407667 - 08/23/12 06:46 PM Re: Pets and recovery [Re: kpntreal]
scottyg Offline

Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 289
Loc: Seattle
Has the routine changed in any way? Clearly the dog does not want to come in a d you need to find out why... Could he simply want more time outdoors than he's getting? Is there some routine that occurs once home that's got him feeling threatened?

Are you home more or less than you were in the past? He may equate a morning walk with the lonlines of you leaving for the day. You don't mention when this occurs so I'll assume you take an am and a pm walk. When does it occur and what are the circumstances that follow?

#408687 - 09/02/12 07:00 AM Re: Pets and recovery [TRIGGER] [Re: Lancer]
Lancer Offline

Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 901
Loc: Florida
As I posted on F&F had a little insight on why I've bonded with cats instead of dogs. I identify with them...and, yeah, I'm making generalizations.

A lot of times, in a roomful of people, IF the cat is even socially inclined to begin with, it will go to the person who ignores him. In kittythink, the ones who make the fuss over the cat are the ones most likely to want to pick it up, restrict its movements, etc.

Cats prefer relationships on THEIR terms. Cats adopt their humans, not the other way around (though they might sometimes let you believe you're in charge).

Pretty much describes me.

#408690 - 09/02/12 08:19 AM Re: Pets and recovery [TRIGGER] [Re: Lancer]
dark empathy Offline

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 2686
Loc: durham, north england
kpntreal, I also wonder if your dog is to an extent getting away with being carried instead of walking simply because he can, ---- yes, dogs will do that laugh.

Myself, I've always found animals easy to get on with, indeed animals of various kinds tend to like me. This is especially true for dogs sinse I've grown up with dogs, but the same thing has happened with cats, rats, sheep, a pig I once met on a farm, and even a gorilla, ---- yes gorilla! being hugged by a gorilla twice my weight was a surprisingly profound experience, particularly with how safe I felt.

I often find i can express a lot with animals through touch and closness that I can't express with humans, indeed during my abuse when I was 13, Jessy, my bull terrier puppy was about the only creature I'd let close to me. She was with me for 14 years ever sinse she was four weeks old and I was 13, right through my abuse and recovery, and I don't think I've ever been quite as close to an animal, ---- even when I went to university I could speak to her over the phone. jess was also very much a one person dog, and also extremely definite in what she did and wanted, (I indeed had to play a lot of pack leader games with her or otherwise she'd have ended up running my life instead of the other way around).

Jess died two years ago, and that was one of the worst experience I've had recently.

Last october, I got a guide dog, a black lab retreaver cross called reever. the month of training wasn't easy, ---- not because the actual training was hard, but because Reever, like most guide dogs, had been moved around from place to place and really! didn't want to be with me at all, indeed she spent the first week sitting by my front door weighting for the trainer to take her home, and walking away whenever I stroked her, ---- this as you can imagine was emotionally extremely! difficult, especially for me who usually gets on extremely well with animals.

This is also why i'd never describe dogs as co dependent, if a dog doesn't like you, it makes that pretty dam clear. With dogs, it's much more about a certain relationship betwene you and the dog, a pack relationship, which is in some ways quite formalized, albeit that it can still be incredibly close and fulfilling on both sides.

I've managed to establish this with reever, and we now are becoming extremely close, but it took quite a lot of work on both sides, nor are we yet quite as close as I was with jess, ---- sinse we've just not been together that long. Though I do really quite love reever now and things are getting better constantly, indeed I've noticed in recovery terms having a dog really helps with depression.

Myself, I would never describe an animal in human terms as a child, sinse for me the ways I interact with animals are just so different to the way i'd interact with a human. Indeed, one ironic thing is that while I don't get on well with kids, I absolutely love babies and very small children under the age of about 18 months, simply because I can! interact with them the same way I interact with animals, after all, a puppy and a baby aren't that dissimilar.

One thing that I have noticed, is something that I've always wanted to have with a human, but have only thus far had with a dog, which is a sort of physical closeness, ---- an ability to literally feel and be aware of the pressence of someone else and physically miss them when they're not there. This is something I very much got with Jess, and with my mum's dog zia (who for some reason really likes me specifically). I'm now getting it with reever, but again it takes time to establish. It's something I've wanted to have with a human, a form of entirely physical, but utterly none s/xual intimacy, just an intensive knolidge of the weight, mass, feel and presence of someone else's body and the emotional closeness that brings.

As I said, I think it's a mistake to considder animals similar to people, sinse the methods of interaction and behaviour are utterly different, ---- for instance, I'd never use force of personality to compell a person to do anything, (this isn't a threat, but a certain way of none verbal communication which I learnt with jess, a method of projecting force and pack leader vibes). Though it's still possible to become extremely close and have some wonderfull relationships with an animal, just slightly different ones to what you'd have with a person, though in a sense for me the differences are what makes relating to animals so much easier.

Edited by dark empathy (09/02/12 08:26 AM)

#415799 - 11/09/12 09:08 PM Re: Pets and recovery [TRIGGER] [Re: Lancer]
Lancer Offline

Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 901
Loc: Florida
A two-month-old thread, but ran across this article on PTSD and service animals. As my diagnosis is fairly recent, I'm just starting to examine and understand the personal implications. A lot of what the two veterans experienced really spoke to me:

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