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photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, March 15, 2010

Take Your Pill, Johnny- Mommy's Taking Fluffy to the Therapist...

I've had animals all my life. I love them, feed them, care for them, and consider them valuable members of my family. Not HUMAN members, but family all the same.

And lately I've noticed the huge influx of TV shows, books, all-around experts out there giving advice on how to relate to our animal friends. From the Horse Whisperer to pet psychics to Caesar the dog therapist, we're told that there are No Bad Dogs, No Bad Horses, No Bad Animals of any kind.

If an animal misbehaves, WE need to figure out if what we are asking it to do or conform to is appropriate for that species. If it is, WE need to change the environment or our way of communication with that animal so the behavior is changed without force or coercion. If we are expecting something from that creature that it's not mentally or physically equipped to do, then WE need to change/lower our standards of what to expect from our owner/pet relationship with that critter.

If anyone suggested that we use chemical intervention to get the animal to behave the way we'd like them to, there would be screams of Animal Cruelty and we'd be accused of treating another living soul as mere property and decoration to be bent and formed according to our own narrow desires.

However

We currently have entire school populations of children who line up at the nurses' office every day to take their Ritalin.

I'm not saying there aren't children who really need what Ritalin's got. There are.

I contend, though, that the great majority of children we currently medicate into intellectual submission could be better served if we looked at the same things the Horse Whisperer does.

Are their lives arranged to give them plenty of free time?- and that's NOT time in front of a screen of some sort. Children, like puppies, need alot of time to just run their little legs off, dig holes and smell the earth, feel the sun on their fur, stuff that has nothing to to with organized sports or staying clean.

Are they challenged at school?- or are they tossed in the mix and told to sit still and wait their turn all day long? On the one hand, our TV culture has given us children who flat can't concentrate longer than one commercial break to the next. On the other hand, 1 teacher to 20 students cannot possibly give the luxury of alot of one on one time, or time to delve into any subject too deeply. Is that a natural, fulfilling environment for our children? or are they so fragmented by the many other pupils and the school schedule that they're simultaneously bored silly and distracted beyond concentration?


What kind of a Society do we have when we take our pets' mental health more seriously than our children's?

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