Bored Pets and Over-stimulated Human

The other day, while huffing and puffing on an elliptical machine, reading a TIME magazine, occasionally glancing at the TV overhead, and observing the activity in the gym, I had an epiphany. Two of the stories I was reading were oddly related.

The first story titled, “Dog Interrupted,” was about psychological problems experience by pets. It’s well-known that domesticated and wild animals can go bonkers when confined at amusement parks, zoos, and circuses, kept in stables, labs, cages, pens, or crates. What’s new is that pampered pets, primarily cloistered indoors, can also suffer from psychological problems.

Featured was Buddie, a 13-year old beagle-sheltie mix, which is feed daily doses of Xanax and Prozac to counteract his agitation and terror. Since age 10, he’s been taking Valium, Ativan, and a host of other calming medications.

The author reasons animals kept in captivity, rather than gallivanting in the wild, often succumb to psychological problems, including obsessively pacing, swaying, swimming, plucking or licking, and even becoming highly aggressive and dangerous. Consider the injury of Roy Horn, part of the magician team of Siegfried & Roy, who was horrifically injured by his beloved, tamed, and trained white tiger, Montecore.

Coddled cats and dogs are equally prone to psychological issues, including obsessive-compulsive licking, night terrors, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), separation anxiety, hoarding, phobias, continuous yelping or barking, and depression. Cartoon

While some of these issues are associated with the way they were raised, such as being locked in a crate, neglected or exposed to frightened experience, others are off-shoots of their owners’ neurosis and obsessions. In the movie “Best in Show,” an uptight couple become agitated when they realize their dog’s squeaky toy, resembling a bee, is missing. They rush around trying to find the toy, while their dog is oblivious to it being missing.

You can imagine the confusion and separation anxiety of the tiny dogs fashionistas, celebrities, and empty-nesters cart around in their purses and are then surprised when their living toys revert back to their natural tendencies to squat, poop, lift their legs, and whimper when abandoned.

In the days of Lassie, when women typically stayed home to raise kids, the family dog enjoyed romps in the backyard and attention throughout the day. However, with the need for two-incomes, dogs are often locked up all day, left to their own devices in fenced area or relegated to a crate.

The increase in brain chemistry issues among bored, anxious, and neurotic pets, therefore, is on the rise. To ease their pets’ psychoses, owners are turning to anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications, along with behavior therapy.

The second article I read, “Inbox Zero Office-collaboration tools want to reshape the workplace,” lauds the paperless office, replacing water-cooler chats and meetings with instant messaging between one or many, along with file sharing and mobile apps to collaborate on presentation, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents. The article also showcased FB@Work, which displays relevant information about projects, news or company updates employee might have missed through conventional channels.

While pets are becoming psychotic because of lack of stimulation or confinement, the modern workplace and use of mobile devices is heightening people’s inability to concentrate for more than a few minutes or 140 characters. The illustration, which accompanied the article, showed an office of chipper workers, a few that appeared harried, a couple peaking over partitions, passing papers across the aisles, or busily working. What wasn’t portrayed was the anxiety of today’s work culture.

With the efficiency of technology came the reduction in the number of people to do each job, along with the capability to work from virtually anywhere, at any time. Thirty years ago, an employee might get an after-work call from their boss, asking about a project. Perhaps, they occasionally took papers home to read or did a little work on weekends.

Today, many white-collar employees receive a flurry of emails that pile up each morning if they don’t respond after-hour, and when they first roll out of bed. At work, if they don’t respond fast enough to a request, they’re likely receive a call on their phone – via LAN line, cell phone or through a computer – or receive an instant message.

Gone are the day when a group’s admin could be asked to set up a meeting, make copies, mail a package, type and distribute meeting notes, or answer calls when someone steps out of the office. Employees are now empowered to do their own administrative tasks with a notebook in one hand, smart phone in the other, and tablet tucked in a backpack or purse.

There’s no hiding out in a cube or office, hoping you can “slide under the radar.” Today’s work environment is more team-based and collaborative, dependent on social skills, technical competence, driven by metrics and timelines, structured around organizations’ immediate needs – be it in Poughkeepsie, Santa Clara, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, London or Johannesburg – and constantly evolving to keep up with competitive pressures, and technological breakthroughs.

As a result, people are turning to anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications, along with behavior therapy to cope.

The bottle of Xanax on the counter might be serving two purposes: One for the over-stimulated human, and one for the over-anxious pet!


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