I am absolutely amazed and awed by the animal kingdom. Most nights I watch the National Geographic Channel more than any others.


Over the past few years I have learned so much about how animals interact and how smart and compassionate they are.

I am absolutely amazed and awed by the animal kingdom. Most nights I watch the National Geographic Channel more than any others.

Over the past few years I have learned so much about how animals interact and how smart and compassionate they are.

Therefore, I am increasingly appalled by how a percentage of humans still considers animals not to have any mental reactions when they are held captive or physically abused. Studies in animal behavior are showing more and more that psychological damage suffered by dogs living in puppy mills is profound and exists long after they have been rescued.

Even when placed in loving homes with individuals who take great care to handle them with love and tenderness, many still have elevated levels of fears and phobias, and an inability to respond to affection.

Anecdotal evidence has long shown that the dogs, lacking normal human contact and living predominately in cages, often suffer from post-traumatic depression.

When I took Psychology 101 in college, they discussed something called “hospitalism,” which was a diagnosis used in the 1930s to describe infants who wasted away while in hospitals from a lack of human contact. The symptoms could include retarded physical and mental development, and disruption of perceptual-motor skills and language.

Many soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have returned with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of the articles I have read about war and the toll it takes on mind, body and spirit seem so obvious. How could you not be influenced by witnessing death and destruction and being in a constant “fight-or-flight” state?

Our memories of things, including traumatic ones, become who we are; we cannot simply erase them. I often wish I could remove thoughts that seem to have minds of their own. Round and round they go, and they create feelings that can be positive or negative.

Perhaps the day will come when there will be a global epiphany that being kind, respectful and compassionate toward each other and our animal friends is the only way to live.

Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360, send email to getalife@lorettalaroche.com, visit the website www.stressed.com or call toll-free 800-998-2324.