The highly sensitive person is a well-documented phenomenon. But can pets also be highly sensitive? How will you know if you are living with a highly sensitive animal? What do you need to do differently to care for a HSP(pet)?
I will never ever forget the day I learned I am a highly sensitive person, or HSP. Finally….an explanation for what was “wrong” with me.
I dove into Dr. Elaine Aron’s work (Aron is the architect of all things HSP). I learned how I am wired differently from most everyone else I know. Life, love, loss, even opportunity – I feel the ebb and flow of daily life so keenly it is a continual battle to stay open, engaged and participating in that same flow.
How many homo sapiens have the HSP trait? About 20 percent, according to researchers.
But here’s the really cool thing. My species isn’t the only species with the HSP trait!
Brain and Behavior* confirms it. Researchers have documented the same trait towards high sensitivity in more than 100 other species, including rhesus monkeys, birds, rodents and – wait for it – pumpkinseed fish.
As it turns out, being highly sensitive may serve an evolutionary purpose.
Heightened sensitivity boosts awareness which in turn boosts opportunity (to get lunch and avoid becoming lunch)….at least as long as the sensory stimuli itself remains manageable to the organism experiencing it.
When it doesn’t, and you happen to be a homo sapiens, you might hear statements from your less-sensitive peers such as “oh calm down,” “you need a thicker skin,” “don’t take everything so seriously,” “it’s not that bad” and – my personal nemesis – “just lighten up.”
Want to learn more about the genetic trait of high sensitivity in non-human animals and whether your pet might have it?
This short and sweet 20-question quiz offers deeper insights into how high sensitivity can manifest in a pet’s behavior and way of being, both in times of calm and in stressful periods.
When you are highly sensitive and you are not a homo sapiens, you might start acting out or withdrawing when life starts to feel too overwhelming for your sensitive wiring to cope with. For example, the slightest noise or change of routine might trigger you to begin barking, meowing, screeching at the top of your tiny yet surprisingly resonant avian lungs…..or retreating into your rock cave or inside your shell (if you are lucky enough to be born with one of those).
You might (over)react when your person arrives or leaves. Or when it is time to eat. Or when the mail comes. Or when you see a shadow, or butterfly, or anything that even vaguely resembles movement anywhere in your general vicinity.
In turn, this might set your human to wondering why you don’t respond like a “normal dog” (or cat, or lizard, or bird, or snake, or whatever…..). You might get taken to the dreaded v.e.t. more than you like while the people who are caring for you try to figure out what is “wrong” with you.
You may get signed up for extra obedience classes or training programs you neither want nor truly need.
Worst case, you could get relinquished to a shelter or rescue by a frustrated human who has had more than enough of your mysterious ways.
Highly sensitive pets, like highly sensitive people, are all too frequently misunderstood and thus mishandled, which tends to only increase the sensitivity and make the issue even worse.
As a highly sensitive person and animal intuitive, it didn’t take me too long to figure out that I am an animal communication magnet for highly sensitive animals.
HSP(pets) send their people to me on a near-daily basis because I can help solve their humans solve the so-called mystery of why they are the way that they are.
I can help you and your highly sensitive pet communicate and collaborate to ease the stress caused by your animal’s hair-trigger sensitivity.
Do you suspect or know you are caring for a highly sensitive pet? Click the buttons below for help!
**Wikimedia pumpkinfish photo by Cephas