Dogs On Thursday: Do Dogs Get SAD?
SAD, as in "Seasonal Affective Disorder", the one that affects people when they are deprived of adequate sunlight. It is a type of depression, and like most of the psychological disorders, people can experience SAD from a mild to a disabling degree. The only known effective treatment is getting enough exposure to full-spectrum light through either sunshine or therapy lamps.
Like clockwork, every day Abbie plants herself in a pool of sunshine and follows the sun as it moves across the southern sky. She starts off in the lower level, catching the early morning rays, moves upstairs to our bedroom where she gets sunshine through mid-afternoon. At that point, you can always find her basking on the stairwell.
Yet with all of the sunshine exposure she gets, Abbie still seems depressed. You can see it in her eyes, but it's especially noticeable in her ears - they just droop lately. She acts like she doesn't have any energy. She drags herself around, instead of her normal little trot. She doesn't get out of her bed to welcome me home at night and greets me with the barest little thump of her tail (one of her nicknames is "Thumperbelle" because of how furiously her tail is usually wagging). She sighs frequently - deep, heaving sighs. She's not as interested in grooming her stuffed animals. In short, she is Pathetic.
Chloe, on the other hand is fine. It's true she sometimes stays snuggled in her warm bed a little longer on cold mornings, but don't we all? I'm sure she's not sick - not only did she recently have her annual checkup with the wonderful Dr. Don, but she's eating, drinking and pooping normally.
Mr. C said he just thinks she's bored (but he didn't follow up on my suggestion to take her to Disneyworld). I believe that my poor little beagle baby has SAD. Unfortunately, she has a mommy who believes that if you're not bleeding or vomiting you'll be okay so we aren't going to be shelling out enormous sums of money for light therapy lamps. Instead, I'm making an extra effort to have longer playtimes with her, giving her regular deep-pressure puppy massage, and trying to find new routes (with new smells) on our weekend walks to get by until springtime. And being much more tolerant of her using the back of my knitting chair as her personal hammock. It is, after all, therapy.
(For more information on SAD, check out this website.)