Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fuzzy Beasts

Have you ever noticed how much stress animals can pull out of a situation?

Or, how you can get a person who refuses to exercise with a 10 min walk to keep moving for 40 min when you explain that the dog needs it.

They snuggle and love unconditionally.

That said, I find it an odd thing to watch youth with attachment disorders interacting with animals.

One said, "Oh, you have a cat; I love cats!" as the first words she said when visiting us. Then, she proceeded to chase off the cat and after moving in she'd shove him out of the way on a regular basis and was completely uncaring about the fact that she could hurt him by leaving small elastics everywhere. Interpretation: she wanted us to like her and she saw a cat, so, she figured she should tell us that she liked them. But, really, she didn't attach to anything enough to care about interacting with a cat.

B on the other hand seems to truly have compassion for animals. The only exercise he does is that forced by us by pointing out that the dog needs it. But, he really wants the dog to be happy, so, he does it. The same cat that didn't like the girl who claimed to love him, climbed into B's lap for a snuggle within 2 days of him being here. But, the pets from his previous placement "aren't his" anymore and he "doesn't care about them anymore". So, he attaches in a way while they are present, but, if he walks away he no longer cares. It's harder to interpret. Does he miss them and think that it's better to pretend that he doesn't? Or, does he really not care? His attachment issues are considered to be more serious, but, it's hard to figure out.


  1. Heh, I remember being really frustrated withh my daughter with RAD a couple of years ago. . .I asked her what?! does she like to do? She said pet the dog. She apparently liked the idea of petting the dog, but she would never even engage the dog, other than to kick it out of the way. Hmm. Somehow I think your son's behavior is healthier.

    I'm glad you're back. You are doing a great job.

  2. I would love it if we could have a cat or a dog but we live in a flat and I don't think it would be fair. We have usually fostered younger children and but current foster child is 12 and she has two hamsters (one she brought with her and the other was given to her by her mum because she said she wanted another hamster.. I'd already told her that one was enough but anyway... !). I know hamsters aren't as involving as dogs and cats but seriously, she loves those little critters so much and she takes them to her room and chats to them. I am convinced of the therapeutic role of animals and particularly as one of the hamsters entered 'foster care' at the same time as her! It is a shared experience of a kind..

  3. MomInTheTrench -- thanks for the nice thoughts. I'm not certain I'm doing a great job, but, I certainly am doing the best I can and I know that we have the ability to do this "job". It's a tough one though.

    cb -- Hamsters can make great pets. The bonding of having gone into foster care together is great too. We make a point telling the family stories of our animals and I think that does help B bond with them.

    I'm reasonably convinced that if you can bond with an animal you ought to be ABLE to bond with humans as well. I hope I'm right.