Gayle Nastasi, animal consultant and author
In the United States, and other parts of the globe, what we refer to as Daylight Savings Time has ended. This means that we who live in the northern hemisphere face darkness before evening even arrives. By 5:30 PM, when many people haven’t even had their supper yet, it’s already night in my little section of the Universe. The horses are in the barn, the wild birds have tucked themselves into the trees, and the beings who hunt at dawn and dusk are beginning to prowl.
The dark months of the year affect many humans in various ways. For some, a desire to hibernate takes hold. They hunker down in their cozy homes with a good book, a warm cuppa, and hang out a sign that says, “Be Back In April.” For others, the “safety in numbers” instinct that helped our ancestors survive the frigid winters causes them to seek social contact and companionship. Some people become very sad as the lack of daylight alters chemicals and hormones that affect the brain. Other people love the dark time, and experience it as a time for family warmth, togetherness, revisiting pleasant memories, and (of course) the holiday spirit.
The increase in darkness affects our animals, as well. It’s not uncommon to notice that our dogs and cats are sleeping more, and playing less. Their appetites are sometimes affected and some may actually appear to feel sad. I have been contacted, many times, by pet owners who are concerned that an animal is ill, but aren’t seeing specific symptoms. Of course, I always encourage a good vet checkup, but in the winter months it’s not uncommon for them to show me that they are simply experiencing a lower energy level that they appear to feel is normal.
It’s only natural that some pets are affected more than others and that our animal companions respond to the changing seasons in as wide a variety of ways as their humans do. How do your pets respond to the approaching winter? Do they grow quieter? Do your winter-loving dogs seek more time outdoors, waiting for the snow? Does your kitty follow the cycle of the furnace and park herself near the heat outlets whenever it clicks on?
Do the patterns of your animals match your own? Or are you a winter human living with a summertime pet?
I’ve always felt that we can learn a lot about ourselves by observing our animal family members. By watching how our dogs, cats, horses, and other pets respond to seasonal changes, we often become more aware of our own responses. Take time, as the days grow darker (or lighter, if you live in the southern hemisphere), to observe how your pets’ moods contrast or reflect your own. There are so many ways that our animals can help us to deal with our day to day challenges. Seeing them as our emotional partners through the ups and downs of the year can often help us to deal with those changes.
It’s that time of year again! On Black Friday (November 29th) at midnight US Eastern Time, my Holiday Special will begin. Existing clients will be able to purchase a 3-pack of prepaid sessions for a savings that totals $23 (when compared to purchasing half-hour sessions individually). If you are interested in participating in the special, feel free to send me an email.