Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Dogs as OCD Treatment

One of Tina's posts gave me something to think about.  She mentioned her pet cat as helping her  and I thot of how our new doggies have helped me not succumb to ocd as often.

I didn't want to get a pet until the contamination ocd had been pushed back to a dull roar because your supposed to be a kind pet owner, not a freak-out artist.  It was hard for me to let Katrina be a messy,  free child.  There were so many rooms/ items that were contaminated that i constantly had to watch out so she wouldn't accidently touch, fall over, knock down something that i didn't want touched.  So much so, that i enrolled her in day care 2ce a week starting when she was 14 or 15 months old.  She needed to learn that not everyone was afraid of the garbage can, the books, the car.

Not to mention that things became contaminated or uncontaminated too, so that what was bad yesterday was (thankfully) ok to touch today  but then a room or chair that she could touch with impunity yesterday was unclean today... Only problem was, there was no outward sign that anything had changed.  And she was a toddler!!  I could yell "no, don't touch"  and i MIGHT  have said it in time for her to stop.  Try that with a pet, tho!  Pets don't get that the garbage can is untouchable just because life is 'better' for me if they don't.  Tails just follow in the general path of the animal but they can swing or brush against  an item the animal itself didn't touch. Screaming at the animal doesn't get them to stop either! 

I needed to feel comfortable enough in my environment that i wouldn't give an animal cause to need therapy itself!

That finally happened this January!!  I was finished with therapy and didn't base my life anymore on what I couldn't do, but on what I was able to do again.

So 2 dogs came into our life- Mieka, a 1 yr old husky/collie with a lot of pep, bounce and energy.  Training not accompanied by a visible treat isn't worth doing.  Then came Zoe, a 7 yr old golden retriever who is cuddly, sweet and doesn't need to be running around all the time.

When Mieka brushes her tail against the garbage can I hold my breath and tell myself the outside of the can is CLEAN- I've cleaned it  at least a week ago!  Breathe, and let the dog go on.  Can't really explain it to her that I'd PREFER she keep her tail away from it.  Well, I guess I could but the time and effort that would take doesn't appeal to me!  (Sometimes being lazy is a good thing.)

One time I found Zoe laying under /beside the hanging laundry bags in a corner of our bedroom.  I grabbed her and got her off (NOBODY touches the laundry poles, bags etc. without washing afterwards.  Even tho laundry is not toxic-ly dirty.)  However, I was in no mood to bath the dog, so I just let her sleep on the floor and decided to worry about it the next day.  Even tho I didn't forget what she had done, again laziness helped me decide that cleaning the dog isn't as much fun as reading my book, so i just petted her on the bed and forgot about the series of contaminations- me, the bed, others who touch her etc.  

Not being physically able to explain myself to the dogs has helped me deal with the anxiety instead of just telling someone to wash up...pleease.

Just an update re Katrina.  Today I touched her on her back after eating a nectarine.  She started whimpering when i told her I had NOT washed my hands.  She wanted me to do that and then mentioned about her back needing to be cleaned.  Instead I distracted her.  I washed my hands so I could sit by her without a problem.  We looked at a toy catalogue. After a little while I mentioned that she didn't seem to have a problem with her back anymore- the bad feelings had gone away.  She said talking about it brought it all back to her but she never asked to have her back washed.  I wanted her to know that sitting with dread doesn't really hurt physically, but gets rid of it instead.  She insisted she doesn't have ocd!

They also make me get out to get some exercise.  Cuddling them and brushing them relaxes me.


  1. I'm so glad your dogs have helped you with your OCD. My kitty has definitely done that too. Her tail is always hitting "dirty" stuff. It's frustrating but I'm very lazy and don't bother to clean her so I just end up living with it.

    Good job helping Katrina work through her trigger with the fruit. Poor little sweetie. Sounds like you did a good job helping her sit with the anxiety.

  2. Karin, I'm sorry I didn't see this when you first posted. It sounds like the dogs are really helping. I can relate. You're right--we can't explain our OCD thoughts to them, so we have to find different ways to deal with their "contamination."

    What you did for Katrina was great! What a wonderful lesson to teach.

  3. People say with good reason that dogs are human's best friends.