The house is empty, the kids have gone back to school after the summer break. Call it a sort of empty-nest syndrome, except that the remaining occupant of the home is busy chewing the remote control and the couch.
It’s not an uncommon scenario as dogs across the country are “abandoned” by their best human friends come any back-to-school season. “You’ve got to think of it from the dog’s point of view. One day everybody’s there, and then the next, everybody’s gone and it happens that fast,” said Judi Halliburton, a companion animal behaviorist and author of the book Raising Rover: Breed-By-Breed Training from Afghans to Yorkies. “Then people start coming home from school, from work and finding the living room all torn up.”
Your first thought will probably be that the dog is angry. But, according to Halliburton, your pet’s not mad — it’s a case of separation anxiety.“For all they know, these humans got sucked up into a black hole,” she said. “They have no idea what happened to them.”
“Back to school can cause separation anxiety in some dogs,” agreed Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk program for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). “They’re used to playing all day with their best friend, then they’re alone for six to eight hours a day. It can be hard for some dogs.”
“It can manifest as barking, whining, scratching at the door, chewing inappropriate items, or more medical symptoms such as lethargy or not eating well,” he added. “And it can happen to any breed.”
Now then , does “any breed” include Homo Sapiens? I rather think so. Lethargy, whining and chewing inappropriate items certainly covers the range of my behaviour when my wife’s away.
But maybe there’s a spiritual aspect too. You know that old tag about a “God-shaped hole” in the heart? Maybe a lot of the whining, bitching and barking we see in contemporary life is just a form of seperation anxiety. We’re missing our master and can’t put our finger on what precisely is wrong. Every society in every age has manifested a spirituality of yearning, of reaching out.
Maybe we’re all just scratching at the door?
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