Monday, December 5, 2011

Nice Doggie, Good Boy

If you've got OWN, and only watch one show on the network (which, granted, is one more OWN show than a lot of people watch), the ratings are saying it's most likely Our America with Lisa Ling. Despite the fact that it's Oprah's name in the title of the network, Lisa appears to have what's turning out to be the network's flagship show.

Lisa being a friend, I have absolutely no problem with that.

In the season just wrapped up- well, kinda sorta; the season, originally slated for six episodes and an update show, has had eight episodes added to it- Lisa has said that the most important of the batch- and "one of the most important things I've ever done"- is the episode on post-traumatic stress disorder, titled "Invisible Wounds of War". I- or rather, Lisa- touched on that episode in this article, which after seeing it I really rather regret writing at this point because the cases of PTSD she profiled were just so far beyond what it was that I was imagining that my article really comes off as callous to me now.

I'd post a video of the episode, but it's not available online, so you'll pretty much just have to keep an eye on OWN's broadcast schedule for the next airing. Or maybe see if Our America gets onto DVD at some point. Haven't asked Lisa about it. It should, though.

In any case, the reason I bring this all up is this article from James Dao of the New York Times, showing that PTSD affects not only humans, but dogs as well, to the tune of about 1 out of every 20 dogs currently deployed by American forces to find enemy soldiers, clear buildings and sniff out mines.

And the dogs are a lot harder to treat. They can't tell you what's wrong, and if they're shell-shocked out in the field, and can't say anything about it while on a mission, that not only puts the dogs at further risk, but the humans relying on the dog as well. Even after you've made the diagnosis, you can't really tell when, or if, the dog has been healed. About half the dogs with PTSD have to be retired. PTSD can, outside of the military, also affect normal household pets given certain triggers. Trauma doesn't just mean war. It can also mean a car crash, or certain levels of abuse by the owner, or natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Cats can get it too.

Which may on some level explain the behavior of our new cat, Mooch. After we got her in late August, it turned out that she had been languishing in a shelter since January. Not only that, but one day my mom noticed a pair of little scars on the back of Mooch's ears, which may indicate some abuse by the previous owner. It's December now, and Mooch has only slowly, very very slowly, been learning to venture out of little corners of rooms, particularly during the day, and if I make anything beyond the slightest, gentlest of moves towards her, she will still instantly take off running and hide somewhere.

I don't know what exactly went on, I can't know, and Mooch can't tell me, but whatever happened, it's still eating at her pretty strongly. But if nothing else, there's a pet waiting for her any time she wants it.

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