This is a sensitive issue. My dog Sookie is not always "OK."
I often describe her as mentally ill. I admit this is more a term of endearment than a diagnosis from a professional. I do not say it in jest or with any disrespect to humans suffering with mental illness. I use the term to encapsulate Sookieâ€™s behavioral challenges and people often giggle, but the popularity of "doggie Prozac," the emergence of pet behaviorists and even "psychologists," is evidence that pet mental health is a growing concern.
The question of weather a dog can actually be mentally ill is a controversial topic in veterinary medicine. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "Mental illness is a condition that impacts a personâ€™s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis." Sub the word "dog" for "person" and this describes my Sookieâ€™s inability to engage in what are considered "normal" daily activities like going on a peaceful walks or relating genially with other dogs.
Cohabitating with a mentally unstable 65-pound Boxer is not always easy, but it resulted from only the most loving intentions. We rescued Sookie from the SPCA in 2011. I was looking for a workout partner, a big dog to jog, hike and walk endlessly with. I wanted a buddy to provide some protection and "intimidation factor." I desired an animal to hang out with me in the house while I work, that I could take to the dog park and sit at pet friendly outdoor cafes with. I wanted to travel with the lucky canine we would adopt. I decided I would even let her sleep in our bed. I was ready for a new member of our family.
I spent hours on rescue organization web sites searching. Then, one night I saw a photo of Sookie pop up on the local SPCA website. I fell in love with her goofy face, her direct gaze into the camera, the markings that made her look like she was wearing terribly applied black eye liner and lipstick. I know. Looks are a totally ina…Read more...