At the dog park.

The weather was pretty today (the first true springlike day we’ve had) and  my daughter wanted to take my ex’s dog, Dexter, to the dog park.

As you can see, we’ve had lots and lots of rain.    The dog park was basically a mud pit, but it seemed like every dog in town was there, and they were having the time of their lives, especially this hilarious guy digging in a mud puddle and barking at it.

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If your pet could text.

This is SO true!

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Credit: N/A

Throwback Thursday: Psychopaths, narcissists, and pets.

Originally posted on November 16, 2014

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There’s been a lot written about the devastating effect psychopaths have on other people, but what about their pets? Do psychopaths even have enough empathy to keep pets?

Unfortunately, yes they do. But for them, pets are a means to an end, a creature that can be exploited in various ways that serve the psychopath, rather than a friend and companion. A pet can be a way to “keep up with the Joneses” (if most of their neighbors and relatives have pets). They have no genuine love for the animals under their care, and often treat them badly or even abuse them. Here is an article I just read last night where the blogger calls out his MN sister about the callous way she puts her cat to sleep because she’s moving, even though there’s nothing wrong with the cat. Later the blogger describes the cruel manner in which the woman’s two beautiful dogs are left outside on a chain even in the searing heat or freezing cold, and are never played with or paid attention to. Eventually, this cold woman tells her brother she will be having her depressed but otherwise healthy golden retriever put down “because he’s old.”

I remember when we lived in a trailer park for about a year, some of our neighbors treated their animals very badly. I don’t know if it was just ignorance (most of the people living in the trailer park were not too well educated) or if we had a surplus of psychopaths living around us, but I remember one poor dog in particular. In fact, this dog was a black lab/Doxie mix who was the sister of my dog, Dexter (who we acquired from a family who lived in another trailer in that park).

Rain or shine, snow or sleet, or on the hottest days of summer, that poor dog was left outside attached to a clanking metal chain in the driveway. The few times I saw anyone interacting with that dog was when the owner, a raging drunk whose wife had called the police on a number of occasions for abusing her, would kick the dog or yell at him. I would have called the police, but was afraid of the repercussions, and also the dog had become so aggressive I knew no one would adopt her and she would have been put down. Maybe that would have been the best thing for her though, but I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time, being embroiled in my own mess with my own psychopath. I did try to interact with the poor dog occasionally, but she would just bare her teeth and growl. I would look at my Dexter, with his sweet, affectionate personality, and think of what his poor sister could have been had she been cared for by loving owners. I have no doubt that owner was a psychopath. Anyone acting that cruel toward his pet is someone without much or any empathy. A person who just dislikes animals would not have a pet at all, not keep one around just to abuse it. The owner probably kept the dog for “protection.” Why else have one?

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Is this dog’s owner a psychopath?

In fact, you see that a lot. There are many people who keep a dog, usually an “aggressive” breed such as a Rottweiler or Pitt Bull, as a method of security. No one will try to break into a house or trespass if there is a barking, aggressive dog present. People who keep dogs as a form of security aren’t necessarily psychopathic though. A normal person who keeps a dog for such a reason will still play with the animal and be affectionate toward it when it’s not “on duty.” But if the animal is ignored, or left outside all the time, that’s a different story. Whenever you read or hear a heartbreaking story about a vulnerable animal being neglected or abused, you can bet it’s owner was a psychopath. In fact, pets, being helpless and trusting, often serve the same purpose as a child or vulnerable person: as a scapegoat.

There are other psychopaths who like to brag about how aggressive their dog is. The dog is an extension of themselves, and they take pride in training it to attack or act aggressively toward others, not as a form of security, but as a way to intimidate other people through their dog. Training a dog to be aggressive just to be aggressive is also a form of animal abuse.

Then there are those who, like my MN mother, keep a dog or other animal as a status symbol. They always choose a purebred animal, often a type that is trendy or expensive and makes them appear to be wealthy to others. My mother has a purebred Bichon Freze, a very cute dog, but it’s an extension of herself rather than a companion. She takes it in to a groomer monthly to have its nails done and puts bows on its head. I’m sure if this dog develops health problems, no matter how minor, she will have the dog put to sleep. Several years earlier, she had a purebred toy poodle, and when she got old, callously had her put to sleep, even though she had no health problems other than a little trouble walking due to arthritis. When I questioned her about why she took such drastic action, she just shrugged and told me she didn’t have the time to deal with an ailing animal. I don’t recall her even shedding a tear.

There are purebred animals that have been inbred so much they have health problems. I think anyone who breeds a dog or cat for a certain “look” at the expense of its health is lacking a conscience or empathy, at least toward animals. These people are breeding animals to have a deformity! Imagine breeding humans to have a condition such as Spina Bifida. How is it any different? Persian cats are a perfect example of a cat breed that has been bred to have a pushed in, flat (and in my opinion, ugly) face and as a result they have breathing and other health problems. Some dog and cat breeds, such as the “munchkin” cat or Bassett hound have serious spinal issues or have trouble walking due to their excessively short legs.

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Persian and munchkin cats.

Some psychopaths use pets as a way to torment or control their children. They will purchase or acquire an animal for a child, and then if the child misbehaves, hold the threat “I’ll have Fido or Fluffy put to sleep if you do that again” over the kids’ heads. This is mental torture. My N-ex’s mother was a narcissist herself and used this tactic to manipulate him. When Michael was five, his father brought home a white puppy. He loved that dog and spent all his free time with him (he may not have been a narcissist yet, it’s hard to say). One day when he was five, he was coloring with crayons on the hardwood floor, sitting in a patch of sun that came in through the living room window. Buster, the puppy, was sitting next to him watching. There was also a pair of child’s plastic scissors on the floor. As children will do, he left to do something else without putting the crayons and scissors away. But before he came back, Michael’s mother discovered the crayons had melted all over the wooden floor. Surely she couldn’t have really thought the melted red and purple crayons were blood, but when Michael returned to coloring, she pointed to the waxy, melted mess and the scissors and accused him of “cutting the dog.” Buster did have a little red crayon on his fur but was not cut and wasn’t hurt in any way. To punish Michael, his mother announced she was having the puppy put to sleep, in order to “teach him a lesson.” And so she did. So psychopaths will use animals to manipulate, control and torment their children.

Some psychopaths and narcissists will acquire a pet to control other people. My ex, Michael (the grown up version of the little boy in the last paragraph) did this. Now he actually was an animal lover (and always said he preferred animals to people), but he also used them as a way to say “fuck off” to me. I’m an animal lover and have always had pets, but I remember when in 2011, he adopted a dog without asking me how I felt about it. At the time, I already had three cats and Dexter, my dog. The house I live in is small, and there wasn’t room for another dog. For several weeks he had been combing Craigslist looking at puppies. He wasn’t working and was basically freeloading while I paid all the bills. Not only was there not room for another dog, I couldn’t afford one. I begged him to not get any ideas. Michael assured me he was “just looking” and to stop worrying.

Well, lo and behold, one day I came home from work to find a puppy in his arms on the couch. I was angry and told him there was no way I could take care of another pet, and he would have to take it back. He said he wouldn’t. “Too bad, he’s here to stay,” he said.

The puppy was a Jack Russell/Beagle mix and the loudest, most undisciplined, and hyper dog I ever met. Michael refused to train him and a year later this dog was still pooping and peeing in the house. He also tore up everything, and I’d regularly come home from work to find the house in a shambles. Michael never bothered to pick up the mess. He’d just make excuses for his pet, whining “but he’s just a puppy!” even though the dog was a year old. If me or my daughter tried to discipline him, Michael accused us of being cruel. Talk about gaslighting!

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The dog (who he named Barnaby) also barked constantly and ran away at least 3 times a week. We’d hear Barnaby barking and howling somewhere in the neighborhood but he wouldn’t return for hours, no matter how much we called him. He was a neighborhood nuisance, and three times neighbors called animal control. Still, Michael refused to discipline or train him. That job fell to me and my daughter, but of course we were “cruel” or “hated animals.”

The third time animal control showed up, I told them to please take the dog. I never wanted him in the first place, and I couldn’t control him. I didn’t want to pay a $75 fine to keep him, so away he went. I felt bad about the fact he would probably be put down, but there was nothing else I could do. Michael, of course, was livid, and said “I never realized how much you hated animals.” Of course only HIS needs mattered. He didn’t care that all the training and financial expense of the dog fell on me. He also didn’t care about Barnaby’s needs: he was wel aware that Jack Russells (and Beagles) are extremely active dogs that need to run. It’s in their genes. We were living in a small house with a tiny unfenced yard, and that’s not an appropriate setting for a dog like Barnaby. But like all narcissists, Michael was like a three year old: “I want a dog and I better have one and I don’t care what you think!” Now I love dogs, but in Barnaby’s case, I was never so happy to see the last of that animal. I hope someone with a large fenced yard and time to train him appropriately adopted him.

So yes, psychopaths do keep pets, but they are kept for all the wrong reasons–to control others, to serve as scapegoats or status symbols, to guard property, and generally to serve as extensions of the psychopath. And that’s about it. Psychopaths and narcissists have no genuine love for animals, just as they have none for other people.

What animals can teach us about mindfulness.

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I’ve always believed animals are our greatest teachers. As humans, we tend to dismiss animals, thinking of them as lesser creatures with limited (or no) intelligence. We think that just because they can’t read, don’t speak, don’t wear clothing, and don’t create art, music, or multi-national corporations, that they don’t have anything to teach us. If anything, we try to make animals conform to us, dressing up lapdogs in cute outfits or teaching them tricks to impress our friends.

Animals have much to teach us, and in many ways, if we acted more like them, as a species we humans might be better off — and a lot happier too. Mindfulness is a skill that helps many of us cope with daily life and eases the symptoms of depression, trauma, and many mental disorders — and there is no person more mindful than a cat, dog, or other animal. Even the Buddha was never as mindful as that Labrador retriever who looks at you with such soulful eyes, or that cat that sits peacefully in your window purring his little heart out.

If you have pets, watch them closely. They don’t worry about the future or fret over things that happened in the past. They don’t obsess over themselves or what others are going to think of them. They don’t beat themselves up over past transgressions or worry that they might not be acceptable. They live completely in the moment, reacting only to what they need to in order to survive and be happy. When they are given food, they happily nosh down on it, thinking about nothing except how good it tastes and how nice a newly-full stomach feels. If you ask your dog if he wants to go out for a walk, he doesn’t sit around sulking because he thought your tone was condescending; he happily jumps up and starts to dance around, sometimes even smiling (I am certain dogs can smile). If you scritch your cat under the chin, she will turn her face up to you, squint her eyes so they are almost closed, and begin to purr. She doesn’t worry that you might think she has bad breath.  She doesn’t care!  Watch a group of otters at play. They are like happy children, enjoying the water and the bliss of splashing around and swimming in it, and the joy of being together as a group.

Humans are the only creatures who unfairly judge their own kind, are cruel and unjust for no good reason except to boost their own egos, and seem to look for things to be miserable about, even when things are going well.

Many people think we make ourselves miserable due to our higher intelligence that makes us think about everything way too much, and that could be true. But what exactly is intelligence? How do we know that animals don’t have just as much of it as we do, even if they have a different kind of intelligence? Just because we can read words and earn a paycheck doesn’t mean we’re better or have a superior way of thinking. Case in point: have you ever witnessed some people with Down Syndrome? While their cognitive abilities may be impaired, they are some of the most joyful and affectionate people on earth. I remember one day standing on line at the supermarket. Ahead of me was a young man who clearly had Down Syndrome, and he was happily smiling and waving at everyone who looked his way. People smiled in reaction, not because they were being “polite,” and not because they were laughing at him, but because he was spreading joy. You couldn’t look at this man and not feel a little of his natural happiness. Studies have shown that people with very high IQ’s are more prone to mental illness and depression. People who aren’t as “smart” do seem to be happier. Sometimes I think too much in the way of cognitive intelligence actually gets in our way and keeps us from living in the moment and just enjoying life.  Children at play have a lot to teach us in that department too. We can learn from them.

I’m not comparing the cognitively challenged with with animals and kids to be offensive, but I do think it’s important to point out that all of these groups seem to be more able to live in the moment, and living in the moment is what mindfulness is really all about. Mindfulness and staying in the present leads to joy. So who really is smarter?

Instant joy:

If you’re depressed or feeling bad, just go to Youtube and watch videos of cute, funny and happy animals (or babies, if you prefer).  There are thousands of them.  They are popular for a good reason: they make us feel better and can make us laugh and smile when we’re down.    It always works for me, at least a little.

How my ASPD/NPD control freak ex used a dog to gaslight me.

This makes me laugh now, but at the time I was doing anything but laughing.

Lucky Otters Haven

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In 2011, when my parasitic MN/ASPD ex was still living on my couch, he decided he wanted a dog.

We already had a dog, Dexter, who was an awesome black lab mix (he lives with my daughter and her fiance now). The house I live in (and lived in then) is tiny. At the time, we had Dexter and 5 cats. Far too many animals for a two bedroom house, but these were pets I cared about, so I wasn’t too bothered by the overpopulation problem in the house.

But oh no, a dog and five cats wasn’t enough for the Parasite (which is his new name as far as I’m concerned so that’s who he’ll be from now on). No, he had to have his OWN dog, one that HE picked. I told him we had no room for another pet, and it was already too expensive feeding and…

View original post 1,317 more words

Me and dogs.

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I’m acquainted with a woman who loves children. She loves them so much she’s chosen a career as a first-grade teacher. She gets together with her nieces and nephews on the weekends and takes them on outings–to parties, to movies, to the zoo. Sometimes she just hangs out with them, and listens to them regale her with their childish tales. She’s available for babysitting on many evenings–and is more than happy to do it too. But my friend is also childless. What surprises many, including me, is that she’s childless by choice. As she told me, she loves kids but was just never interested in taking on the responsibility of raising one. As she puts it, “I enjoy kids immensely, but I can always hand them back to their parents when they get cranky or I’ve had enough. I’m afraid if I had children of my own, I’d stop liking them as much as I do.” Child-free women have the reputation of being child-haters, but this isn’t always (or even usually) the case. Some, like my friend, are even huge fans of kids.

I’m the same way about dogs. I adore dogs. I think they’re cute, hilarious, sweet, loyal, and interesting. I always stop to pet dogs (if they are friendly), I watch videos of dogs, I read stories about dogs, and I have a job where I frequently encounter dogs and my interactions with them are one of the job’s high points. But I don’t have a dog and don’t want one either.

Although dogs are awesome, they are also a lot of work–work I don’t have the time or inclination to take on. They require attention–lots more than a cat, and they are expensive. If you acquire a puppy, you must have the time to train it. You can’t just leave it alone all day while you go to work or do other things. You have to take it out when you’d rather be sleeping or watching TV, and you have to devote time to socializing it. Even if you acquire an older dog who’s already housetrained and socialized, you have to give it attention and play with it so it doesn’t develop behavior problems. You have to walk it and take it to the vet. Like a child, you are stuck with that dog for life.

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Some people get a puppy and then callously drop it off at the pound when they realize how much work it’s going to be. I think that’s plain wrong. Like children, dogs need to feel securely attached to their people, and dogs that are abandoned or rejected often find it difficult to become attached to a new set of owners (if they aren’t euthanized first). I think if you agree to adopt a dog, it’s a lifetime commitment. Sure, there may be some situations where you can’t keep a dog (a particular dog may turn out to be a “bad fit” for a particular owner, or the dog has unforeseen behavioral problems that cannot be resolved), but in most cases, I think the decision to get a dog just wasn’t thought through ahead of time. Puppies are irresistible. People see a puppy and think, “I must have it!” without considering that puppy won’t always be a puppy and that they are making a 10+ year commitment to another living thing.

I’ve had several dogs in my life and I’ve loved them all. My last dog was a handsome lab mix named Dexter and he was as sweet and good and loyal as they come. Like most dogs, Dexter was very social. He required a lot of attention and would whine and whimper when he wasn’t getting it. When my daughter moved out last year, she wanted to take Dexter with her. I was a little sad to see him go, but I also knew she would pay more attention to him than I ever had, so I agreed to part with him. I can still see Dexter whenever I want, just by taking a short car ride. But I’m not responsible for him anymore and that’s fine with me.

Sometimes, especially after playing with or interacting with a particularly adorable dog, I’m tempted to go to the shelter and pick out a dog for myself. But I know I wouldn’t want the commitment. I love dogs but also like to be able to “hand them back to their person” when I’ve had my fill. I’ll stick with my cats for now. They’re all the “dog” I need.

Unless…someone gives me a Corgi puppy.   Then all bets are off.  OMG.  I would NOT be able to say “no” to a Corgi puppy.

 

Cute post of the day.

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Goodbye, Sammy :(

I just found out my son’s 16 year old Australian shepherd, Sammy, was put to sleep today. He said this morning, Sammy couldn’t even get up, wouldn’t eat, and there was a tumor he wasn’t aware of growing on his paw pad. I’m crying for real right now.
Here are the last pictures of Sammy, both taken today.

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RIP Sammy.

I think this day just needs to be put to sleep. I’m probably just going to go to bed early.

My son’s dogs.

My son posted these pictures of his doggies on Twitter.

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Sammy, the Australian Shepherd.

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Max, the longhaired Chihuahua.

Personality disordered dogs?

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While there aren’t official psychiatric diagnoses for dogs, I think dogs (and other pet animals) can and do develop psychiatric conditions, including the canine equivalent of the personality disorders. As in humans, “personality disorders” in dogs develop when a dog has been abused or neglected, usually in puppyhood. Neglecting a dog is just as bad as abusing it, because they are social creatures who need “mirroring” from their humans and regular social interaction. Without these things, a dog can become aggressive, aloof, or learn to fear everything and everyone. Since disturbed dogs do not make good pets, they are usually euthanized.

Because dogs and other pets aren’t capable of higher level reasoning, there’s no doggie equivalent of a “false self,” gaslighting, triangulation, or splitting, but we do find manipulative, attention-seeking, unpleasant behaviors.

Here’s an article about the behavioral problems dogs can develop. Next to each item, I’ve named the personality disorder that would be the human equivalent for that behavior.

http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis1/PD%20In%20Dogs%20And%20Humans.htm

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Problem dogs usually exhibit difficulties with:

Selfishness and Aggressiveness: Some dogs aggressively guard their food and possessions, and bite any dog or human foolish enough to challenge them. Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Impulsiveness: Some dogs are very impulsive. They impulsively run off chasing after something at the slightest provocation. Often this behavior either gets them lost or run over by a car. Antisocial or Borderline Personality Disorder

Dominance: Some dogs are very dominant and literally control their submissive owners. You will see these dogs pulling their owners around on a leash, or involved in some other power struggle with their owner. Antisocial or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Fear or Wariness: Some dogs are very fearful and wary of strangers. Some fearful, shy dogs eventually learn to trust their owner. However, other fearful dogs never learn to trust their owner and remain wary, aloof and distant. Schizoid, Avoidant, or Dependent Personality Disorder

Separation Anxiety: Some dogs become hysterical when their owner leaves them. They howl or tear up furniture in a fearful rage. Some dogs bloody themselves trying to paw through walls or smash through glass doors trying to reunite with their owners. Borderline Personality Disorder

Attention-Seeking: Some dogs constantly demand attention from their owner. Yet the more attention the owner gives these dogs, the more excited and attention-seeking they become. The end result is that these demanding dogs are always jumping up on their owners or otherwise pestering their owner for more attention. Borderline, Histrionic, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Lack Of Affection: Owners want an affectionate dog that loves them. Unfortunately, some dogs never warm up to their owner and remain aloof and cold. In addition, other dogs never learn to trust their owner, and remain suspicious and isolated. Paranoid, Schizoid or Avoidant Personality Disorder

Read more about animal psychological disorders:
http://mom.me/pets/19054-animal-psychological-disorders/