RAD and Pets: Great Idea or Massive Mistake?Nov 06, 2022
My puppy knew before I did one summer day at Healing Hearts Camp. Families desperate for help sat on the cool grass on the hill to watch a demonstration. Elan B-lined for one extremely angry, violent girl and parked herself up against her. The look my dog gave me was intense, as if to say, “this one is filled with fear and needs help NOW.” The activity we were doing wasn’t scary, it was a whole lot of fun and silliness; but a few hours before I had spoken about secrets and how they can poison a child and ruin their days until they find the courage to tell their mom and dad in order to drain the poison out of them.
I realized she had a secret that she was scared to share. When we completed the activity, I walked with her over to the horse corral and encouraged her to unload whatever was on her heart that was frightening her so that her mother could help her. “I’m afraid you won’t love me if you know what I’ve done” she cried out as tears streamed down her face. Her wise mother opened her arms and pulled her daughter to her heart. “I can love you no matter what,” she whispered. The little girl opened her heart and trusted her mom with the painful memories that had haunted her in silence for years.
My Corgi knew before I did, before the little girl’s mother did, and cared enough to do something about it.
Pets can be a huge asset or a massive mistake depending on how we handle things.
Cuddling a kitten or puppy can be heartwarming. The unconditional love of a pet can fill us up. It lowers blood pressure and brings smiles to a stress filled home. I love walking in the door and being greeted by my dog wagging her whole body at my return. It fills my heart!
Children with RAD require special handling when it comes to animals. One of the five tests a RAD kid uses to evaluate if they can trust an adult is “can I hurt your animals?” All of the serial killers and many of the school shooters had hurt and killed animals before turning their rage on humans. When a child hurts an animal, it is a giant step backward in their healing, and the animals don’t appreciate it either! It must be stopped!
Feeling of Safety is Paramount
The reason it is considered a huge red flag of pathology when a child hurts an animal is that it means they have no empathy. If they do it two times, it means they have no remorse. The development of the conscience has been interfered with. Trauma can do that. A child with RAD cannot see the love their parents have for them because of the wall they have put up between themselves and those who love them. They feel unloved no matter how much their parents care.
These children do see the love between their parents and the family pet. I don’t know about you, but I fuss over my dog, kiss her, tell her she’s amazing, and talk baby talk. The children see us doing this and they know we love our animals, so they test. Would you protect this animal you love? Would you keep them safe or can I sneakily hurt them? If the child is able to perpetrate abuse on a beloved pet, they then deduce that since parents love this pet massively, and they did not protect them, they would not protect the child even as much. When a child with RAD does not feel safe, they cannot heal. That feeling of safety is paramount for the foundation of attachment and healing.
Animals can be an important part
I spent many years living with a house full of psychopaths and always had a dog at my side. We use horses as part of the healing program for the children because they have the amazing capability of insight that we have lost. My children were active in 4H and dog shows. I firmly believe that animals can be an important part of the healing program when we do it right! Doing it right means the child is not given control over another living being until they have self control. They are not trusted to care for an animal when they are not capable of doing even basic self care.
When is it time to get them a puppy? When are they ready to care for a pet? These are great questions that I am going to cover in my webinar!
Watch for the webinar recording coming soon to get the furry facts!
We can make a difference, Nancy Thomas
Photo by Gever
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