climbing mountains

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Nosh has been blah-boring lately. But I am sharing the visuals anyway, because this blog is about sensory adventures after all.

Immediately after Lucy was out of danger, I suffered an intense autoimmune flare. For two days, I was battling pain from inflammation everywhere, and unexplained nausea. Lucy kept me going, she was the reason I had to get out of bed and take slow walks, of course, and that made me take in some sunshine and fresh air. She kept my mental processes in check, no sinking into the abyss of despair, because I need to be well for her. At the back of my mind, whenever I feel the tugging downwards of depressive thought, there is this solid rock: “What would happen to Lucy if something bad happened to me?” I cannot, of my own volition, allow her to face such a desperate situation.

The conversation is fresh on my mind, and it makes me smile. It has also spawned other trajectories that I shall explore in my writing and research-practice.

“Lucy is spoiled because you do everything she wants,” said her vet to me.

“Yes, true, but she does everything I want her to do, and there is no conflict, so I consider it fair exchange!” was my reply.

We both laughed, and the vet did concede that I had a winning formula.

I have long suspected something wrong about the Dominance Theory in dog behaviour and training, but that was the only thing we had to go on in past decades. Now, of course, there has emerged better science and more clement methodologies. With Temple Grandin blazing the trail in livestock studies, and the new generation of canine behaviorists alongside, we now have sufficient concrete bases for a new paradigm. So, why is this still slow to catch on in public media and perception?

The same goes for autism studies, approaches and strategies. The Bogey-Man attitude presented by Autism Speaks has overtaken and holds the media captive, is popular among even the academic world.

I have just cancelled my participation in a conference that claimed to be presenting cutting edge research in Autism. There were many reasons for my withdrawal, but the two main ones were that Lucy was unwell and I did not want to leave her in anyone else’s care, and I began to discover too that the my goals and perspectives are not compatible with that of the conference programme and organisational attitudes. On the latter issue, I shall be writing a more detailed exposé, but my mind right now is quite fatigued and so I will only say that I felt there was scant regard shown for insider perspective, communication was scatty and bordering on rudeness at times, and the clincher was when I saw that a keynote speaker is associated closely with Autism Speaks. That explained very clearly the rest of the programme, why my own experience was what it was, and of course, served as the deciding factor. I am enjoying my week here in Sydney with Lucy, and engaging in other research-practice activities organised by my own university – inclusive, embracing and truly open minded cutting edge. (More about that to come in another blog post!)

My raison d’être has always been this:

It is not my purpose to ‘fix’ what is ‘broken,’ but to empower beauty…

And of course, this:

Nihil de nobis, sine nobis

Nothing about us without us

4 thoughts on “climbing mountains

  1. It is a jolly good thing I have my 2 dogs too – I cannot lie around in bed when they are hungry or want some well-deserved attention!
    And I could never send them back to Animal Welfare!
    They might well like a new home, who knows for sure, but in my own heart it would be breaking the trust I have been building up between us; I could never do that to them either!

    Perhaps the chief reason that the Dominance Theory still has the upperhand is not least of all due to the view, in most religions still, that man is dominant over animals, and too, that the dominant head of the house is the husband whom all must obey without question.
    If we are not in control of (love) ourselves, we need to control others.

    • Thanks for the insight, Anne! I never thought of it from that angle. The theory came to light from an early study of captive wolves, however, I am quite sure that the idea of dominance is deeply ingrained in our subconscious and hence the power of the idea.

      Yes, everyone should have a furbaby!

  2. There is everything wrong with Dominance Theory. It has been heavily discredited for a long time, both its effects and its theoretical foundation (built on a study of a captive wolf packs, back then considered a model of “natural” canine pack dynamics – until later studies of natural wolf packs in the wild showed that they don’t work like that). Dominance Theory is un-scientific, but popular and unfortunately may lead many people to abuse their dogs with good intentions…wanting to do the right things (which they have perhaps picked up from hersay, read online or seen on a TV show such as “The Dog Whisperer”), and discrediting their own intuition that that’s not a good way to treat friends at all.

    • Yes, indeed, a brief search on the subject will yield the information that you mentioned. Sadly, just like any other mistaken concept, e.g. the rubbish about vaccines causing autism etc, humans prefer to believe in sensationalised fodder from the popular media rather than read up on facts. I do think this has something to do with the neurocognitive pattern / preference of the wider majority, but I will not go into that here. Too long and involved a subject and I can waffle on forever.

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