OCSA Guest Blogger: Darlene Arden

One Health and The Human-Animal Bond
© Darlene Arden, CABC

Photo Credit: Veronique Schejtman
Photo Credit: Veronique Schejtman

A former actress/singer/dancer, occasional choreographer, occasional writer, life has taken me from that career to writing. A true eclectic writing on a wide range of topics, I found my niche when my passion for companion animals collided with my writing. Having attended a good number of Veterinary Conferences (and spoken at a few), I found my calling when I heard Karen Overall lecture. My fascination with behavior led to my becoming a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant  and teaching at Kutztown University. My passion for the Human-Animal Bond led to my being invited to become one of the first, if not the first, lay members of The American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians.

The Human-Animal Bond is very much part of the One Health movement. We owe a lot to our companions. Until I brought Aimee, a 3 ½ year old retired Champion Chartreux cat, home for my mother, my companions had always been dogs. My mother wanted another small dog but I couldn’t be a full-time caregiver, work full-time and raise and train a dog the way I prefer to do it. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Aimee not only brought that special magic that only a companion animal can bring into a home, helping us relax and laugh at her antics but she brought a special sort of healing.

I have had migraines since I was a teenager. They can become debilitating if not caught in time. I discovered first-hand the healing powers of a cat’s purr when Aimee came to lie quietly on top of me and purr. I found that if I could match my breathing to her soft purring, I could relax enough to fall asleep and end the migraine, nipping it in the bud. I discovered while researching The Complete Cat’s Meow that a cat’s purr does, indeed, have healing powers. The purr is between 25 and 150 Hertz. Bone density can be improved and healing promoted by sound frequencies in this range. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if they can heal themselves, they can, in all likelihood, help to heal us as well.

So many medical breakthroughs come via veterinary medicine and make their way to human medicine. I have begged medical doctors to attend at least one veterinary conference. They essentially sneer at me. How utterly foolish can they be? It’s the relative equivalent of banging my head against a brick wall. If that burned calories, I’d look like a supermodel.

The only thing I can think of that worked the other way around is Wellness which began in Human Medicine, so what is the Medical Doctor’s benefit in avoiding veterinary conferences? I’ll admit that I haven’t much respect for my primary care physician. I once told him that when he could treat more than one species, then we’d talk. I have learned so much from veterinarians while researching article or books. They have always been most generous with their time and knowledge.

Is there anything more wonderful than puppy breath? Does anything make you feel better than being in the middle of a litter of puppies or kittens? Amazing breakthroughs have come for “orphan” diseases when investigating something in a specific dog breed. That’s quite a by-product! Dogs sniff out diseases like Ovarian Cancer, they signal before an epileptic seizure or heart attack, they support people with PTSD. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Our companion animals lower our blood pressure (and we lower theirs when we pet them), the calm us, they make us laugh, they know when we don’t feel well, they comfort us in times of need. There is no human who can provide the kind of unconditional love they give to us.

I’ve been asked if I feel uncomfortable in public places when I’m usually covered in dog or cat hair. No. I call it accessorizing. I feel sorry for people who don’t have dog or cat hair on them because they must be awfully lonely.

I can think of few things as powerful as The One Health Initiative and The Human-Animal Bond. Both can only grow richer and stronger.

Of Special Note:
OCSA Board Member Julian Schink, MD, participated in a One Health Panel at the 130th Annual Illinois State Veterinary Medical Conference in 2012.

4 thoughts on “OCSA Guest Blogger: Darlene Arden

  1. Thanks, Darlene. Great article!

    We feel our mental health is aided by our small terrier, by caring for her, as she cares for us. There is nothing like a welcoming bark when one has been away, even for just a short while. It is the same feeling one of gets with an “I missed you.” when we were apart, a feeling of being home again.


  2. Wonderful article! My first dog arrived in my life when I was only 2 years old, and I’ve been dog-less for only 2 weeks of my 70 years. They’ve helped me through all sorts of trials and tribulations by being wonderful friends!


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