Missing the Goat?
By Abe Lerner
Animal Depression in the Spotlight
Tears welling in our eyes, we read the report coming out of California, a heartbreaking story of neglected animals struggling to survive. A goat & a donkey living in squalor, bonding together as a coping mechanism. Well meaning California Animal Welfare officials removed all of the animals living on a ranch, when it became apparent that their owner had abandoned them. Efforts were made to find them new homes, where their needs would be tended to. Going unnoticed though, was the camaraderie that had developed over a 10 year period between Mr. G, a goat & Jellybeans, a donkey. Mr. G & Jellybeans were farmed out to different locations. Lost in the shuffle however, was the separation of two long time friends.
Caregivers at Animal Place, an animal sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA, noticed that their new resident, Mr. G, was enduring some form of pain. Lying prone in a lonely corner of his stall, he refused to eat for days, even when bribed with goat favorites, such as apples & sweet grains. A medical checkup at the vet issued a clean bill of health, yet Mr. G remained in his self imposed solitary confinement, in conjunction with a lingering hunger strike.
The caregivers concluded that Mr. G was depressed, as a lack of appetite and seclusion are classic symptoms of depression. The prevailing thought was that perhaps the breakup of his friendship with Jellybeans was linked to his despondency. Could it possibly be that Mr. G was grieving over the loss of Jellybeans? One exceptional individual, Jeff McCracken, believed this to be the case, & drove 14 hours round trip to reunite the two, in an effort to relieve Mr. G from his emotional pain.
The rest as they say is history. Mr. McCracken returned from the facility housing Jellybeans with his prized guest. Immediately upon entering Animal Place, Mr. G sensed his arrival, & greeted his long time buddy. He emerged from his stall, & began interacting with Jellybeans. He started eating as well, as the two shared the same feeding bowl. Animal Place has a video of this emotional encounter on their website (www.animalplace.org) which is so moving, that you can’t help but to cry.
This particular story has a happy ending, due to Mr. McCracken’s Herculean efforts. Sadly though, many animals endure bouts of depression throughout their lives, without ever receiving any proper treatment. This is not to infer that pet parents aren’t sympathetic to their animals. It merely brings animal depression to the forefront, as a condition that needs to be diagnosed & treated.
As mentioned earlier, there are telltale signs of depression that all pet owners should be advised of, as public awareness is key. More importantly, we all need to take a step back & reflect on our pet’s sensitivities. As with humans, pets too have emotions; they can be cheerful & sad, jovial & dejected. Focusing on regarding animals as our peers with respect to their feelings, would go a long way in affording them the proper care that they deserve. If our children were to display symptoms of depression, wouldn’t it be front & center on our agenda, to provide them with the necessary tools to treat their disorder? Our pets rely on us for all of their material needs-shouldn’t they be able to count on us for their emotional needs as well?
There are crucial lessons to be learned from Mr. G & Jellybeans. This incident should serve as a catalyst for action, & not simply be dismissed as a feel-good story. Depression should be recognized for what it is, a condition that doesn’t discriminate between humans & animals. We should take the initiative & pledge to carefully observe our pet’s demeanor, in an effort to zero in on combating depression in animals. As our pet’s advocates, we can surely get them the help that they need. Otherwise, wouldn’t we be missing the goat?
Abe Lerner is a member of the pack at NutralifePet, a division of Nutralife Health Products, Inc., which has been selling high quality dietary supplements since 1996. NutralifePet, the manufacturer of Ultra Joint & Liver Support with SAM-e for dogs and cats, caters to the individual needs of each pet. NutralifePet…caring about animals, one pet at a time…