Hi, I’m Amy. I have been interested in animals for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I wanted to be a vet, followed by kennel owner, followed by vet nurse, followed by pet shop owner… well you get the picture! I never knew exactly what it was I wanted to do, but I knew it involved animals.
My first experience of using de-sensitization (although I didn’t know it at the time) was when I was around 8 years old. We had a cat called Emily. Emily spent most of her days hiding under my parents bed, only venturing out when things were quiet in the evenings. I decided I wanted to teach her to spend more time with our family. The first thing I tried was coaxing her out by showing her a can of her food… well of course this didn’t work! Perhaps if I had at least opened the can I may have stood a chance.
I then decided that if I took her downstairs for short periods of time she would learn that downstairs wasn’t so scary. I picked her up, carried her downstairs, and after a few seconds I would let her go and retreat back upstairs. Over time, I gradually increased the amount of time I held her in my arms in our living room. Eventually, Emily started venturing downstairs more on her own! It worked!
This isn’t the method I would use now due to the risk of flooding, but the theory of gradual exposure is still very much a part of de-sensitization. Even as a young child, I was fascinated by animal behaviour. I guess this could be one of my first experiences of training and changing an animals emotions.
What was originally a single blog has now become a series of blogs. I will continue my story in the next one.
Bye for now,