If I Could Have Any Pet

Today’s topic for Fandango’s Dog Days of August (#FDDA) is “pet”. One of the suggested topics is to talk about which animal you’d have if you could have any pet. I am going to use this topic as a starter for today’s blog entry.

As regular readers of my blog might know, my husband and I have a cat. We first got a cat, Harry, when we were first planning on living together in 2013. We’ve had Harry since kittenhood. However, he was pretty hyperactive, so we got Barry, thinking the two might make great playmates. Well, they didn’t, so we ultimately rehomed Harry. Now we still have Barry.

I always grew up with cats. The thing with them though is, they invariably seem to sense my inadequacy. Whether this is due to my blindness, I don’t know.

Regardless, cats aren’t quite as confortable with me as I’d like them to be. I still hope I will someday have a cat that will have a true liking for me, but that’s not in cats’ nature, I’m afraid. They’re more introverted than some other animals. Or maybe that’s just been the cats I’ve had so far.

All that to say that, if I could have any pet I wanted, I would like a dog. However, I’d for sure like it to be a psychiatric service dog as well as a trained guide dog. That seems a bit much, maybe, but I know some blind people whose guide dogs also help them with their mental health issues.

I may also want to have a pet rabbit or guinea pig. Rabbits generally need a lot of space, though my sister-in-law keeps three (if I’m correct) in her house. She does have a garden, so I hope they’re able to roam about there at times too.

In general though, I don’t think I’m that much of a pet person. I fed Barry dutifully when I still lived with my husband, and though I did take delight in it, I wouldn’t say he’s like my child or something. I’d love to develop more of a connection to Barry and to whichever future pets I might have. I do care deeply about them, but I just don’t feel the natural attunement to my pets that others do. I can’t say it’s an autistic thing, as a common autism stereotype (thanks, Temple Grandin) is that we have a strong connection to animals. I guess I for one don’t.

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.

Weekly Gratitude List (September 14, 2018) #TToT

I’m still not doing very well. Depression seems to be sinking in deeper. Because it’s only been a few weeks, I’m still hoping I’m just having a bad mood for a bit.

Kristi shared in a comment on my #TToT last week that her friend who started the link-up, did so to cope with her depression. For this reason, I’m trying to list the things I’m grateful for again too.

1. A good consultation meeting on Monday. Like I said on Monday, I discussed my options for getting appropriate care. An ideal situation would be that my husband and I could live together but close by a care facility. Since this is most likely not possible, I may have to choose between managing as I do now or going into supported housing. As it turns out, my husband is supportive of me regardless of the outcome. He says he’ll stick by me even if we can only see each other during the week-end.

2. My mother-in-law. On Tuesday, I was feeling so depressed that I didn’t really feel safe staying at home alone. I didn’t have my PRN medication at hand, so couldn’t just sleep it off either. I texted my mother-in-law and she offered to take me to my in-laws’ house. I feel so relieved that she did.

3. My in-laws’ dog, Bloke. While at their house, my mother-in-law took me to walk him. We joke that he’ll be a trained guide dog by the time he’s eight. He is a labrador retriever, so the right breed, but he’s five already and pretty disobedient.

4. My physical health. I had a nasty cold early in the week, but am feeling somewhat better now. Not great, but good enough to go on walks and to exercise again.

5. Nice staff at day activities. I was able to talk some with them and this morning, one took me on an early walk. One of the staff can be a bit blunt and I’ve had a few issues with her, but overall everyone’s nice.

6. Drinking a nice latte with my support worker. Because my support coordinator is on vacation – she’ll be back next week -, my support worker offered to take me on a special activity yesterday. We drove to a cooffee house in her town. I’d never had a real latte, just instant cappuccino. It was really nice.

7. French fries. Both on Sunday and today, my husband and I ate fries with a snack for dinner. Don’t tell the dietician – not that I have one -, but it was delicious. Overall, I’ve not been watching my diet and have been overeating way too much this past week. Let’s hope this depression thing lifts and I will be arsed to eat healthfully again.

Linking up with #TToT again.