Friday, February 12, 2010

Parks, Pools and Animals

(Picture Left: Flocks of ducks and Canadian Geese surviving on water and ice of Reservoir.)

If I naively believed that being "incommunicado and unplugged" for at least a week would somehow spare one the stresses and disappointments normally associated with animal rescue, I was wrong.

It was of course, necessary to make emergency arrangements for limited Internet and phone access while my own services were down. As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, my friend, Elizabeth has been kind enough to lend me use of her cell phone and periodic access to the Internet and emails.

As also alluded to earlier, one of our foster people recently ran into a "separation anxiety" issue with his rescued dog, Brownie. (This was discovered when checking emails.)

I was hoping that the barking problem with Brownie would respond to some emergecy training techniques or at least wait until I had "earthly connections" once again to fully address.

But, the neighbors in Adam's (the foster person's) apartment building turned out not to be so "patient" as I am being forced to be with corporate Verizon's unbelievable shoddy and incompetent telephone "repair" (non) services.

There is almost no doubt that the problem with Brownie (who is otherwise a very loving, well behaved and wonderful dog) would alleviate and solve itself with just a little time. The dog is obviously insecure and lacking confidence in a new situation. Unfortunately, this kind of problem does not usually respond to the normal "training techniques" that work with dogs in long-time homes or who are showing "dominance" with their owners.

A rescued dog barking when alone in a new home is not a matter of "disobedience" or "dominance," but, on the contrary, a sign of insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

The cure is time itself (usually about a month) and whatever the human caregiver can do to help the dog quickly gain a sense of confidence, belonging, home and "pack" (or group).

Unfortunately, we can't explain these things to complaining neighbors or landlord and even if we could, they would probably still demand to "immediately get rid of the dog."

Any human psychologist will say that problems of an emotional nature are not solved within a day or week. Nor, are they solved with "corrections" or punishment. If anything, negative actions usually beget negative results, particularly where human or animal emotions are involved.

Dogs are not human, of course. But, dogs (and other animals) nevertheless share many of the emotional needs of humans such as sense of security, home/territory, belonging to a group or "pack" and steady companionship. Its hard to immediately impart that to a dog (or cat) in a new home and situation. Many rescued (and particularly timid) dogs will bark out of fear of abandonment or simple uncertainty when in new homes and circumstances.

While it is therefore not surprising to run into this problem with Brownie, it is nevertheless disappointing and frustrating that there is so little human understanding or "patience" with it. I had no choice yesterday other than to request Adam bring Brownie back to boarding at our vet.

This of course reinforces the dog's sense of insecurity and "abandonment" (although it is NOT the foster person's fault in this case.) and will most likely result in even worse "adjustment" problems for Brownie if and when she finally goes to another home.

Personally, as one who is being forced right now to be "patient" with the incompetence of corporate America (even at serious inconvenience and loss to myself and the organization), I find it ironic that others can't show a little patience with a dog, who, through no fault of her own is having some difficulty feeling secure and simply needs a little time.

I am not disappointed or frustrated with Adam, the foster person. But, even when one has found excellent and caring foster people, that is not enough. One also has to worry about neighbors, landlords -- and telephone repair.

Last night, I took my dogs, Tina and Chance for their daily walk around the Reservoir in Central Park.

I stood for a long time watching the geese and ducks along the icy waters.

The sky above was a light, creamy color for that time of the evening -- a sure sign of the soon-arriving snow.

Suddenly, as if in signal to each other, the Canadian Geese started squawking loudly, sounding remarkably similar to barking dogs. Then, in groups of about 15 or more, they suddenly took to the skies in perfectly organized, "V" formation for destinations unknown.

How nice to see animals in perfect communication with each other and so well organized in terms of group cooperation, survival and belonging.

The birds boldly took to the skies, confident in where they've been, who they belong with and where they are going.

They neither need humans to survive nor need they learn anything from us.

On the contrary, humans could learn some things from the geese (and other animals.).

For a few brief moments, I envied the geese and wished I could have joined their flock heading for wherever.

I am reminded that the only things I truly love about New York City are its parks, pools and most of all, its animals. -- PCA


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