Monday, May 28, 2012
Separation Anxiety - Mine!
You always see articles about pet separation anxiety (usually about dogs--why always dogs!?) and how owners must deal with animals who get slightly neurotic, to put it mildly, when their humans must go about their business and go to work. What do I never see? Articles for the human companions who get separation anxiety when they get called away or must for sanity's sake take an actual vacation. And let's face it. We all get it, especially when the animals are new in our lives and we are not certain how they will react when the day arrives and their usual human isn't there or they are whisked off to a kennel or a rescue who boards animals for fundraising purposes. I used to fear that my rabbits would think they were being abandoned the first few times I left them with a rescue group. Over time, though, I realized, that with each trip, each return, the rabbits themselves recognized that they were returning to their usual routine and all was right with the world. Still, that first trip for the new pet leaves me anxious. This is in part due to the fact I hate--absolutely HATE--having to leave them, even if the trip is necessary or even if it is a vacation. I miss them dearly when I go away though I confess I do like the break from the cleaning, grooming, etc. I confess too that I anthromorphize in assuming that my rabbits really give a damn if I am away or not. I assume that they are pining for me when I am in Boston or elsewhere--in truth, they are probably more upset that the bunnysitter isn't as well trained as I am and he or she is not giving them the treats at the proper time. I will be facing a trip sooner than the one I originally had planned for July. My mother's sister is in failing health and it is very touch and go at the moment. Indeed, I may get that dreaded phone call at any time. Whenever this happens, this will be the first time I go away and leave my sweetie pie bunny Benjamin. (Cinnamon, of course, is an old pro--in her eight years, she has become quite used to the comings and goings of her human keeper). I am so grateful I was able to hire a pet sitter who does in-home care, as I was at a loss how I could get my rabbits to a rescue. Still, I will travel wondering what Benjamin is thinking. Will he feel abandoned, wonder where his human mama left? And of course there are the usual worries--what if they get sick or something goes wrong? In the film, Peter's Friends, there is a funny yet sad scene in which Emma Thompson's character is giving instructions to her cat sitter before embarking on her trip to visit old friends. Around her flat she has posted Polaroid pictures of herself to make her cat feel as if somehow she is still there and won't miss her as much. Michael the cat leaps off her lap to go elsewhere, and Emma's character laments, "poor darling. Putting on a brave face..." I have NOT reached this point just yet (in any case, my rabbits would just chew the photos anyway.) But it would be nice to get some assurance to allay my separation anxiety before I leave for the airport.