I believe our pets can be mirrors of ourselves.
They show us how we interact with the world. If we take the time to look in that mirror it can be quite eye opening. They can teach us about ourselves and challenge us to be better while loving us with all our faults.
I am fur-mom to three lovely rescued dogs (and some cats too). I have an ADHD brain (1). I was diagnosed at 52 but it’s been with me all my life. I also struggle with anxiety that comes up at the weirdest times. When I logically can see NO reason for it…when I know I can handle whatever is in front of me, anxiety can be an additional obstacle.
So back to the dogs…
I say Drama – my husky – Drama, is a reflection of me at my BEST. She’s very smart, pretty mellow, welcomes everyone in the house (cat, dog or human) with the hope that they’ll spend some time and have some fun. Maybe even play a game?
Then there’s Java – my terrier mix– Java has impulse issues. And excitability issues. And distractibility issues. She’s a goofball, a clown and she loves everyone UNTIL she’s stressed… then she’s ready for a fight. She’s very much my particular combo of ADHD traits.
And finally, there’s Chase, my little long haired something. (I’ll let you know when the DNA test gets done.) Chase is the anxiety kid. (Did you know anxieties often run hand in hand with ADHD? (2)) He’s my velcro guy, He goes with me everywhere he can. The kitchen, the bathroom and of course, to bed. In fact, he’s sitting on the back of the sofa right now snuggled against the back of my neck as I write this. He’s the one that seems to be on sensory overload – thunderstorms, fireworks all freak him out and he’s a shivering mess. Sensory sensitivities are also often co-morbid to ADHD.
I jokingly say ADHD is like a dog who is off his leash. Or maybe never learned to be on one. ooh SQUIRREL…. But just like such a dog, ADHDers can benefit from some training and structure. Not too much or we get “kennel crazy,” but too little and we are the troubled dog that is tearing up the house.
So, I learn from my dogs.
I work at training them, which at the same time trains me. I’m using positive reinforcement techniques for all of us (3, 4), course correction when needed, 2 steps forward 1 step back at times. I’m taking time to make a plan. And if you know and/or love someone with ADHD, you’ll have experience with how difficult that can be for an ADHD brain to do. But at the heart of it all, I love my dogs and I will challenge myself to be better. To make their lives better, and to give them the life they deserve.
This is where I will document the journey of Drama, Java, Chase, and me… as we train each other. This should be fun!
All accessed 7/2/2018
Henry Van Nostrand is one of the co-founders of Paws for Kids for Paws. Her dog Drama is also one of the board of dogrectors.
(Yes, a woman named Henry. NOT Henrietta or other things you might guess. Ask her about it sometime when you have time…)