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“The more I know about men, the more I admire dogs” Erik Satie
Every time I am training new dog trainers, and one of my trainees tells me that he chose to do this job because he prefers animals to humans, I systematically have the same thought in my head. I say to myself: “Let’s hope he can get over this idea”.
Chloé Fesch and her dog Lisboa
You will have understood, I do not agree with this idea of preferring animals to humans.
I have several arguments to explain this, but rather than stating them, I would like us to think about what makes some people think this way.
I have tried to analyze this, based on my own sensitivity and experience. I am not saying that I am right or wrong, I am not trying to prove to you that what I am saying is true.
I’m just trying to think and understand why we come to prefer our dogs to humans and how this can be blocking.
To begin with, there is an obvious implication in this preference that we don’t like humans.
Why wouldn’t we like other human beings? We are part of this species. Wouldn’t not loving humans be the same as not loving ourselves? And let’s go further, is it possible to love anyone (Human or Animal) if we don’t love ourselves?
And finally, the dog is a domesticated species, which lives with Man. This species would simply not exist without the presence of Man.
One cannot logically try to help a dog if one does not take into account the human being who accompanies it. To fail to appreciate the human being is to prevent oneself from helping the dogs that accompany them.
Chloé Fesch and her dog Lisboa
Finally, staying in judgment of the other does not work.
So I know, we all go through complicated moments with the people around us. Some people are unkind or even cruel to us or to those we love (like our pets).
This can lead us to think in ways that cause us to have negative emotions.
And little by little, we become more and more sensitive and finally we can end up not being able to bear this state, closing ourselves, and blaming all those people who triggered this in us.
And worse, we can generalize this learning to a group, a type of people or even to the whole human space.
Is this the solution? I don’t think so, honestly. Why not? Simply because we hurt ourselves by thinking this way, and blaming the other person means being dependent on the change of others to be well ourselves. All this seems to me a risky bet.
Moreover, the more we think negatively, the more we create stress and suffering within ourselves that grows.
The difference between us and our dogs is that the dog experiences stress when something concrete happens, whereas we are able, just by thinking, to experience that same stress.
Our dogs don’t have the ability to think, while we are quite capable of getting stressed in our bed, when no imminent danger is present. Simply because our thoughts can produce this stress and anxiety.
But what I want to tell you is that stress causes a physiological response to react to a threat.
When the threat is psychological it is much more complex for us to evacuate it.
When reacting to stress, the body produces several hormones, including cortisol, which is commonly called the stress hormone. It is important to know that this hormone is vital for us, and logically we should have a higher level of cortisol in the morning than in the evening in order to react to the demands of the day.
In other words, the level of this hormone must be variable, we must be able to lower this level of cortisol. The problem lies in the fact that sometimes we are so emotionally involved that we are not able to find a balance and we are caught in a vicious circle. Without recovery time, we will not be able to relax and regulate ourselves.
This point is very interesting to me. For our dogs it indicates that when they are experiencing a stressful episode, we should allow the cortisol level to decrease in order not to maintain the stressful episode. If we don’t allow for recovery time then the stress becomes chronic and that is dangerous in many ways.
It is the same for us. Learn to recover so as not to force our organism to enter into “depression”.
But let’s come back to our basic subject. To say that we don’t like humans is, in my opinion, a response to an inner malaise, which can be caused by different reasons, but which translates that the solution is not to be found in the will to change others, but starts by managing to relax ourselves.
By succeeding in doing this, we will succeed in opening ourselves to others. In other words, for me, someone who rejects others does so simply because they no longer have the capacity to accumulate more stress and pain within themselves.
It’s a moment of self-defense.
It’s an instinctive response. And as long as she remains stuck in this mode, she will not evolve.
I am not judging when I say this because I am, myself, a human being, sometimes stressed, very stressed even. It is precisely because I experience this that I can understand it.
It is literally a daily work, really effective.
And finally, if our ultimate goal is to help the animals around us, shouldn’t we start by helping ourselves.
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