Coping With Trauma

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost Australian’s have pets; usually dogs or cats. Both these animals can become very attached to their owners, as we do to them. I did not expect that my dogs would force me to be coping with trauma after my return from hospital, while I was still weak and fragile. But it did happen….

I have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and a Rag Doll cat. One of the Cav’s (named Cameo) is a Blenheim (red and white) female aged thirteen and is now deaf. The other is a tricolor (black and white with red markings above the eyes and on the tail feathering) six year old male, named Cooper. Unfortunately Cooper has an anxiety problem and does not like me out of his site.

I have trained Cooper for TV work and photo shoots. He is marvelous to train as he loves it and will do anything to please me. The worry is though, that he gets quite distressed when I am away from him. But he has learned to cope when I do the shopping etc and am away for a couple of hours as he has always had my Mum at home to be with him.

When I had to go into hospital I was not too worried as Mum was still at home and Peter (my husband) was there of a morning (he visited me each afternoon). But one day I rang Pete and thought I could hear Cooper crying. “Is that Cooper I can hear” I asked?

Pete hesitated and then said “Yes; each day he sits at the back door for about an hour, looking out for you and crying.” That made me so sad – but there was nothing much I could do about it. They were so happy to see me when I came home. Both dogs and the cat hopped onto my lap and settled down (as shown in the photo)…it was quite a crush!

A couple of weeks into my recovery I had an awful experience where I thought I had killed Cameo! She got caught under my easy chair and I could not get her out. All the time she was screaming in fear and pain…..I think this shock was the greatest I experienced during the whole ordeal of me having to cope with the trauma of a stroke and the removal of a brain tumour. You can read the chapter in my book, ‘Thank God I Had a Stroke’ to see just what happened and how Cameo and I coped!

Hints and Tips

When an unexpected illness takes over your life, it is not only your human family that concerns you; it also your pets. You have to arrange for friends, family or a boarding kennel to take over the responsibility of looking after them. But you also have to remember that they are after all, animals and you must try not to fret too much. Animals are much better at coping with a change in circumstances than you are. Think of how great it will be when you are all back together again!

28 thoughts on “Coping With Trauma

  1. Debbie Boulier

    Pets can be a problem when your family is faced with a crisis and I often wonder and hope they’ve not been forgotten about. They are a blessing though when your home and recovering, and they are so devoted that I honestly think they really help with the mental and physical healing.

  2. Dan Reid

    My situation is a little bit different, when I started to battle my illness, I actually got a pet instead to keep me company, as well as to share my feelings with. I was single at that point and couldn’t really handle a relationsip at that stage. They were the reason I had to get up everyday up from my bed and be active. Thank god for those little furry creatures! Yet if something were to happen and I was unable to take care of them – I have contingency plans so I know they’ll continue to have happy lives 🙂

    1. Barbara Gabogrecan Post author

      Good on you Dan for getting a pet when you are suffering. I do hope that you have fully recovered and your pets will be lifelong friends, giving you more love and attention that you are able to give them, no doubt!

  3. Ana B.

    This is a touching post. I agree that it is important to make arrangements for your pets to be taken care of in the case of serious illness. Then you don’t have to worry and you know things will be even better when you’re reunited.

  4. Robbie

    Your article made me look at the world from my dogs point of view, I was recently in the hospital and I came home and was upset because my dogs wanted to be in my lap and I wasnt feeling well, now looking back I upset there life because they were used to me always being at home with them.

  5. Lisa Perkins

    I’m a true believer of the True Healing of pets and/or other animals….. We have such a connection with our animals, that it becomes too unthinkable to ever be without our furry little BEST FRIENDS!!!

  6. Kris H

    This is a great article. My dog is one of best friends, I always worry about what might happen to him if I get seriously ill. I’m gonna make sure to discuss with my family about taking my dog in case of illness.

  7. Marie L.

    Your post is heartwarming and your experience is cherishable. Pets are family as well so you have to know they are also being well taken care of.

  8. Wendy Mitchell

    I loved the fact your dogs were right there with you. It is stressful on all parties involved.

  9. Jaminique

    I agree, pets can give you motivation to overcome trauma, because when you’re sad, so are they. If your heart is broken, so are theirs. Happy pet, happy life!

  10. Jack

    Yes keeping a positive and an aware attitude when it comes to caring for you pets when going through trauma is a very good and almost have to attitude.

  11. MBW

    It’s sad. I didn’t think about how pets would be affected by an owner’s illness. I guess these are the things we all take advantage of.

  12. Nicky Evans

    What a touching post, sharing your experience with us! I think your tip to keep in mind, that our furry family members cope better with change than us humans, is a very valid one. We all too often transpose our human emotions and feelings onto them, forgetting, that they are essentially very very different yet very similar at the same time. I am very curious now to find out what happened to Cameo… i gather that the story ended well as you put up that lovely picture of you and your “gang” :).
    P.S. We also have a Cooper, he is a border collie and also loves to learn 🙂

    1. Barbara Gabogrecan Post author

      Cameo did survive Nicky. It took my husband and I (both of us weak from illness) to lift the large recliner and get her out. We had a technician look at the chair later and he showed us how metal rings close and open as the footrest goes up or down, None of us could believe that Cameo could fit her head and neck into the hole when it closed without strangling her or breaking her neck. I was more upset than she was after we got her out – I cried and shook for half an hour afterwards – I think I was letting out all the pent up emotions from suffering from my stroke and brain tumour. It took this incident to release my emotions.

  13. Jane

    I suffer from general anxiety and often find solace in my pet Dachshund. Helps me forget my concerns and is a great diversion.

  14. Lyn Collins

    I had suffered from severe anxiety and my friend gave me a puppy as a gift. I named him Logan and he has been with me through good times and bad, such an amazing companion.

  15. Jenny McArdle

    This is so true. Often pets can be forgotten so the way that you’ve considered them at every step of your journey is heart warming. Wishing you a healthy life.

  16. Sam Wallace

    This is a great article. it is very important to make sure any dependents you have, human or animal, are taken care of in a time of drastic change.

  17. Gary R

    I have been fortunate to own a few dogs in my lifetime, and I have to say that they can be the best companions that anyone can have. Especially in a time of illness or when you are experiencing some type of physical or mental instability.

  18. Samantha R.

    Pets tend to always provide the love and support we need even through the toughest of times and it’s heart warming to show how close they are to you when their affected by it as well.

  19. Jaime

    That tip is pretty helpful. It was something that I had to consider when dealing with between surgery and post-surgery treatments. I have two cats and it was a little more involved trying to figure out how to care for their well-being and my recovery.

  20. Jimmy Knowlend

    This is a lovely post, very touching and informative. My dog is my best friend and in times like these id hope he would be around.


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