Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21,  2018

                                                       The Human-Animal bond!

For the last 2 days Sam and I have had the amazing opportunity to speak at the YSU English Festival about the Human-Animal Bond.  While creating our Powerpoint presentation, I was able to reflect on so many stepping stones throughout my life where I have been able to strengthen and deepen my resolve with the Human-Animal bond.  I was 5 years old in the picture above.  My grandparents had a farm.  My friends were cows (This was Molly), chickens, and sometimes pigs.  My Grandfather mostly had guernseys (rather than the holstein above).  I named all of the guernseys "Sunshine".  And that is what they were to me.  A ray of a matter of fact the brightest ray of sunshine in my world.  It wouldn't be until a year later that I realized why we were "trading" the cows.

On my last day of Kindergarten I felt the world was coming to an end.  Not only was I losing my amazing Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Modarelli-I also lost my dog Charlie.  Charlie had always been with me since I was born.   Charlie was my oversized dachshund mix that meant a ton to my family.  My family pictures involved Charlie, including professionally done photos.  Charlie would ride on the double swing with me, have tea party after tea party with me, play dress up and dolls, and sit next to me while I learned to talk, and learned to read.  He was always there.  My world had changed forever.

The next year, while sitting in Mrs. Sox 1st grade classroom we were talking about the 4 food groups.  When it came to the "meat" group I had lots of questions.  Because I loved them so much I couldn't believe how nice they were to also give us food.  I vaguely remember Mrs. Sox face being a bit bewildered, and not certain how to answer the questions I was excitedly drilling at her.  The conversation that transpired upset me so much I can even remember what I was wearing.  A light blue dress with a red tulip on it and white tights.  When Mrs. Sox answered my question "You mean they give these things to us?" With, well, no, we are eating the actual animal, I was devastated.   I needed to make sure I understood because it truly wasn't making sense to me at one final question, "Doesn't that hurt them?"  Her reply about how they die for us made me put my head down, and start to cry, and then start to sob, and her consoling wasn't helping me and my head was racing because there were so many Sunshines.  I went to the nurse, and I went home that day.  Never to eat meat willingly again.  Certainly my Mom would have been able to trick me sometimes. I was, after all, 6.  But every year, I understood a little bit more.  animals were truly my friends.  At that age, really the only friends that I had outside of school.   As much as I loved that farm, it was never that amazing place again because I didn't have the power to keep them alive.  That theme of saving them, though, all animals, has been the one consistent thing in my life.  Truly it is my mantra.

This was Jebbe Boye. We lost him in August of 2017, after living with us for 8 years.  I would often say that it was love at first sight.  We rescued him from Happy Trails Farm Animal sanctuary.  Each animal that has come into my life have taught me something about the human animal bond.

It is truly more than just loving animals. The definition of the Human-Animal bond is:  The Human-Animal Bond is the dynamic relationship between people and animals in that each influences the psychological and physiological state of the other. Human-animal interaction has profound physiological consequences. People, in contact with animals experience a decrease in blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and a general feeling of well being. By observing the behavior of animals, children learn to be more nurturing and perhaps better parents to their own children. The therapeutic value of animals for socially isolated individuals in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, and prisons has been documented. People in the presence of animals are often perceived to be more happy and healthy.  

W      When I was 16 I started working at a local animal shelter/veterinary clinic/wildlife rehabilitation facility.  There were 7 veterinarians, 3 technicians, endless surgery staff and receptionist and humane investigators, it truly was an amazing place to be.  We sometimes saw the worst of the worst there.  I would go home almost every night crying.  At some point I had decided that I was going to figure this out and find a way to deal with this, or I needed a to get out of this profession because you can't live as sad as I always was.  It took about 3 days for me to decide that I would figure this out.  I would later decide to go to college to become a veterinary technician.  With that degree I would help endless animals.  Even as I packed my car to go to Columbus to college, I took some of my best friends.  Peppy and Hershey my dogs, a ferret named Chantilly Lace, My cockatiels Macbeth and Duncan and my lab rat, Templeton. 
Upon graduation I was lucky enough to work for many years at an absolutely amazing place in Howland, Ohio called Town and Country.  I learned so much.  This incredibly progressive practice allowed me to see so much.  I could see the Human-Animal bond on a daily basis.  This was a very large spring board to where I am today.  It was during this time that my parents adopted an amazing dog called Munchkin. 

Munchkin had been hit by a car and was left on the side of route 680.  A local shelter had picked her up.   She had a severed spine, and was paralyzed from the middle of her back down.  The workers at this shelter, and namely Peggy O'Hara, saved Munchkin.  She had such a zest for life!  She didn't care that she was paralyzed at all.  And she would take that attitude on the road. The shelter bought her a dog-wheelchair and they would take her to local nursing homes.  There were stories about people talking to Munchkin who hadn't spoken in years.  My parents adopted Munchkin and part of her adoption was that we would continue to take her to nursing homes.  As a veterinary technician, I loved the idea, but felt that people were really not able to accurately judge their animals.  I felt like there needed to be some checks and balances, so I started to look at national organizations that registered and insured therapy dogs.   From Munchkin, a group was formed.  K-9's for Compassion was born. 20+ years later, this is the oldest therapy group in our area, and I am proud of the fact that this group that me and my Dad started is still in existence!  (If you are in our area please consider giving of your time to enrich the lives of so many by joining us!)

My husband (A veterinarian) and I were married in 2005.   We combined a house hold of 10 dogs and 7 cats.  It was a crazy time.  It did force both of us to understand more about behavior, though. All of my continuing education hours were put into training and behavior.  I started to teach therapy animal classes at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and then proceeded to teach other obedience and behavior classes at other people's businesses until opening and co-owning The Learning Dog in Hubbard.   Throughout our 7 year run we found much success, and found even further proof of the human animal bond. I went on to get my Certified professional Dog Triner and  Fear Free professional-Certified, Certified IAABC member...and I continue on!  I truly believe in proving myself to the public through certifications and continuing education!

One of my dearest friends, Lorri Matey and I started a service animal group called The Together Journey.  We train service dogs by people who already have them as well as rescue dogs that we take into Mercer County prison.  There will be more blog posts on this in the future.  I will be sharing many stories throughout the future!  This has been an amazing eye opener, especially the prisoners bonds with these dogs.

In 2017 we opened The Canine Campus Training and Wellness Center.   Our mission statement is all about the Human-Animal bond.   It is to enhance and improve the Human-Animal bond through understanding.  Everything we do is with this goal in mind. We speak different languages, and through understanding that language we can communicate and add layers to our relationship.  This is my challenge to all of you.  There are always new things to learn and a way to further the understanding!   It is the most amazing relationship you will ever have.  My incredibly devoted team....all of our trainers and Liz....SUPER office manager...we are truly family.  Your dedication will inspire many posts.  THANK YOU ALL for being the awesome, dedicated people that you are!

Join us for our daily blogs....all about building the Human-Animal bond....and honoring the AMAZING animals in our lives!

"Let the beauty we love be what we do.   There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."                   Jalaluddin Rumi

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