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How The Hen House Turns: Sharing Ailments

on September 14, 2017 - 7:30am
Courtesy photo
 
How the Hen House Turns
By CARY NEEPER
Formerly of Los Alamos
 
Sharing Ailments - Zoobiquity
 
During our 40 plus years with the Hen House domestic birds and dogs, I’ve found eight out of 11 diseases or characteristics we’ve shared, similar to those that the authors describe in their book Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing.
 
Barbara Matterson-Horowitz and Kathrytn Bowers conclude their delightful book of observations and animal stories by saying that we humans are not alone in how we suffer and how our ailments should be treated.
 
Their contributing partners to the book came from both veterinary and medical professions. Each chapter is loaded with stories of ailments we share in different categories.
 
Fainting and the vagal reaction: Both of our large dogs suffered arthritis of the hip in their last fourteenth year. There was no doubt that they felt pain. They probably did not experience a vagal reaction, but when turkey suddenly died, the birds erupted with unusual sounds when I arrived on the scene and found them with the dog DeeDee, surrounding her silent body lying at the Hen House door.
 
Diseases/Cancer: I thought our skunk, 11-year- old Streak, had injured herself, but when the sore on her back refused to heal, even after weeks of her reluctantly swallowing some leftover antibiotic, I realized it was cancer. She died in my arms, her chosen spot in her last days.
 
Sexuality: Lucy Goose’s adopted daughter became the dominant mounter upon reaching adulthood. The lesbian relationship didn’t seem to bother either of them. A variety of relations exists widely in the animal kingdon.
 
Emotion: Our dogs occasionally showed very clear emotion-- a combination of anxiety and fear-- if I erupted with frustration while painting a difficult picture. The birds were no different. Lucy’s daughter Bobbi responded with shocked silence when my husband Don once hollered at her from inside the house to “Shut up!”
 
Heart attacks can be caused by fear in many animals, but I didn’t observe that in the Hen House gang, unless it was the cause of Turkey Two’s sudden death.
 
Obesity, Self-injury or Eating disorders: both dogs would have eaten too much if I hadn’t measured their meals. They must have starved when they were lost for a week as puppies before being brought to the shelter. I tried once to see how much they would eat. After eight cups each, they started to heave, so I stopped the experiment and put them on a measured diet each day.
 
Adolescence: As an adolescent, Lucy’s young daughter goose would have nothing to do with the infatuated duck Mr.Campbell. She let him know it with loud protests, until she erratically explored her advancing adulthood.
 
Our frog once became enamored with our plecostamos when the fish had grown to be one foot long. The frog made overtures by wiggling his front feet on either side of the fish’s head. No objection from the fish.
 
The dogs were wonderful to watch as they tested their growing bodies by leaping recklessly through the pine forest from log to log.
 
Infectious agents and pain: Lucy was limping one day, and the limp got more pronounced over the next day, so I took a look. She hated being held, but settled down when she realized that I was trying to help with her foot problem (a marble-sized abscess). I easily removed and treated it. The tell-tale yellow color suggested Staphylococcus bacteria, a common cause of human infections.
 
Our list of experiences with the Hen House gang reflects the chapters in the valuable book mentioned above, where one can learn how we share many medical concerns with our fellow beings.

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