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November 2009      First Things First Taking Care of Yourself
September 2009     Changes In Routine
April 2009              Animals & Stress

November 2009 
First Things First – Taking care of yourself                                     
What once was a known in your life, may now be an unknown.  This theme has repeated itself over and over in too many lives in too many ways over the past year.  Where once there was the constant of employment, home, food on the table, retirement savings and health insurance, now is loss and uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring.  Even if you haven't been affected by the devastation of these losses, chances are you know someone who is.  You may live in fear that your job is next.  Those of us lucky enough to keep our job are feeling the effects of needing to do more with less, as coworkers are laid off.  One can't drive around town today without noticing the glaring effects of the poor economy in "For Lease" signs replacing the welcoming signage of a store or restaurant. I don't think I need to go on.  Just writing and reading this can cause stress.  Stress is unavoidable in today's world.  We are surrounded by it at our jobs and in our homes.  Every time we pick up a paper, turn on the TV or read this newsletter, our physiological "stress handlers" kick in.  Our bodies are revved up for survival in the same way they prepare for our fight or flight.  As we talked about in our first newsletter, this can lead to physical illness. Not only is this stress affecting us, but it is also affecting our furry companions.  Animals are extremely perceptive and sensitive to what is going on around them emotionally, either spoken or unspoken.  They pick up our moods, fears and stress energetically even before we begin to express it, even before we are aware of it ourselves.  Many animals, who share our homes, take on the "job" of being our companion, friend and comforter, providing us unconditionally with love, no matter what mood we are in.  Being so "in tune" with us, they frequently pick up our stress and incorporate it into themselves.  They are there for us in times of good and bad.  They share our burdens and unfortunately our stress with its effects. This stress can manifest in behavioral and/or physical issues in our furry companions.  
Sept 2009 
Changes in Routine                                      
Animals are such creatures of habit and they find comfort in routines.  They prefer to sleep, eat and eliminate at the same time each day.  As a result, changes to an animal's routine can bring them out of their comfort zone and evoke stress and anxiety, similar to those experienced by humans.  Stress and anxiety in animals can often develop into destructive behaviors and health issues. When changes are made to an animal's routine, it is important to observe both their physical and psychosocial needs.  For example when children are home for the summer, returning to school or relatives are visiting, your animals may need additional time to rest.  If family members are gone more frequently, animals may become sad, withdrawn, and/or exhibit destructive behaviors so they may need more toys or mental stimulation.  Vacations can also be a time of great anxiety for animals if they're not going with you, as animals often feel abandoned and wonder if their family will ever return. It is extremely important to prepare your animals for upcoming changes, just like you would a young child, in order to reduce their stress level when the change occurs.  Think of it like this, wouldn't you want to be notified ahead of time when you're going on vacation, visiting relatives or having company visit?  Keep in mind that animals also want to be prepared as the unknown can be very scary for them. To prepare an animal for upcoming changes, simply follow the steps below: 1.  Clear your mind of extraneous thoughts.2.  Choose a method to communicate with them, either verbally or by picturing the change in your mind.  (If you are wondering whether animals can understand language, the answer is yes!  It is very similar to how a young child understands the meaning of different words even before they learn to speak).3.  Let animals know when the change will take place and/or the time.  Let them know how many days and nights will be involved.  If you're not sure of the details, give them the information you do have and update them once more details become available.4.  Remind them when the time approaches for the upcoming changes.  Similar to people, animals need   
April 2009
Animals and Stress                                                           
All of us experience stress regularly.  Increasingly, the medical community is acknowledging the negative effects of stress on us as humans.  These effects include the obvious of heart disease and ulcers to suppression of the immune system, which make us susceptible to diseases beyond the recognized infections.  Lately, more diseases are being discovered that link to a compromised immune system.  An analogy of stress in today's world is described as having one foot on the gas peddle of the car and the other foot on the brake, at the same time!  Our sympathetic nervous system is always revved up, ready to go into our flight or fight mode.  We are living on a high level of adrenaline, which adds to the physical symptoms of stress.  So why are we talking about stress in a newsletter focused on animals?  We are talking about human stress, because like human stress, animals are being affected in similar ways. Stress affects both humans and animals physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  All of these end up affecting our health, self and relationships.  Many animals experience stress in much the same way people do so they can become impatient, frustrated, annoyed and tense.  Other animals become more susceptible to infections and disease.  Some of an animal's stress is caused by the same things that are stressful to us as humans, while other causes are unique to the species or breed.  Positive and negative experiences can both be stressful.  All of us feel the damaging effects of stress if we don't know how to identify it and work to minimize its effect.  It is no different for our animals than it is with us. Stress is such a big topic that we are going to dedicate our upcoming newsletters to different aspects of stress and how animals are affected.  Dawn and Deb will address it from their experience and perspectives.  So make the commitment to learn more about your animal and yourself by learning more about stress and how to counteract it.  

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