Working On Us Prompt: Pets and Emotional Support Animals for Mental Health

This week’s Working On Us prompt is all about pets and emotional support animals. There are several questions to answer as a prompt or you can write a narrative. I am going to go with the latter, but also incorporate the questions into my post.

I have never had a formal emotional support animal. I do hope to get a guide dog for the blind somedday that will hopefully be in some ways capable of supporting me emotionally too. I know of several people with guide dogs who feel their dogs serve them a purpose related to their mental health too.

For now, I have a cat. His name is Barry and he’s a six-year-old European shorthair (the “standard” breed for Dutch cats). We adopted him from the animal shelter my mother-in-law and sister-in-law work for in 2014. At the time, we had another cat too named Harry, but Harry was extremely hyperactive. We hoped that a companion for him would help him let out his hyperness in a healthy way. Barry however couldn’t handle it, so eventually we rehomed Harry to my sister-in-law.

I never quite bonded with Harry. I was always worried he’d shove my Braille display or other expensive equipment off my desk if he got the chance. At the time, I still resided in the mental hospital so only got home on week-ends. I really didn’t like Harry to be honest.

With Barry, I initially didn’t bond well either. Barry was very shy and reserved to begin with. I remember clearly when Barry first came to me for a cuddle.

Now that I live with my husband, I am Barry’s main feeder, so he’s taken more to me. As a result, he definitely supports me emotionally. He sometimes lies next to me in bed when I’m sleeping off a depressive state. His care also provides me with some much-needed structure. Barry isn’t an emotional support animal officially, but having him around definitely helps me sometimes.

In my opinion, any animal that can be kept as a pet can be an emotional support animal. So can farm animals. In 2005, I went cow-cuddling with the blindness rehabilitation center. I didn’t like it at the time, because I didn’t see the purpose. Now I would love to go cow-cuddling again.

Similarly, horses are definitely useful as therapy or support animals. As regular readers of my blog know, I go horseback riding at an adaptive riding school once a week. Though it isn’t officially therapeutic, it definitely helps my mood and overall mental health.

I also have experience caring for horses that I didn’t ride. In 2012, I went to a horse stable as part of my day activities. I had a horse there named Flame, a Shetlander, whom I often brushed, went for walks with or just cuddled. Flame could’ve been my emotional support animal.

9 thoughts on “Working On Us Prompt: Pets and Emotional Support Animals for Mental Health

  1. Aww, Astrid… You have had so many experiences with a variety of animals, that’s fantastic. Cow Cuddlings sound so therapeutic, then again the horses too. I use to own a horse for a very short period of time when I was a little kid. I loved taking care of him and I also loved the way he would allow me to snuggle his face.
    As far as the cats are concerned, cats are finicky. They either like and love you, or they are little devils in disguise. I’m so happy to hear that your furbaby takes care of you emotionally speaking when you are depressed. It makes such a difference!!
    Thank you again for joining in Week #11 of “Working on Us” A definite pleasure to read this!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My autistic grandson has “equine therapy” at his school once a week. They bring a horse to the school and let the children ride as they walk the horse around. He loves it.

    Having a kitty laying on you or next to you and purring is so relaxing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh wow, that’s so cool that your grandson has equine therapy at school. I am autistic myself and can totally attest to the positive effects of horses. The stable I went to in 2012 also offered riding lessons specifically for autistic people, but due to my blindness they weren’t sure they could accommodate me.

      Liked by 1 person

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