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It's OK If Your Pet Saved Your Life

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Having a pet is something that most people get to experience at some point in their life. There are many reasons why a person would get a pet such as simply loving animals, wanting a companion, having the desire to care for another being and so on. 

A legitimate Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a pet who provides their owner with support, comfort and companionship. In order to have an actual ESA you must work with a licensed mental health professional who believes that the animal is beneficial to your mental health. Once they decide that having an ESA is the right course of action for your treatment, they will provide you with a letter. Any type of online “registration” is not credible. 

Having an ESA is different from having a pet who is not an ESA.  Typically you develop a special type of bond with your support animal that doesn’t come with just any pet. They learn how to read your cues, notice when you’re in need of some extra compassion and support, and provide it. Animals have the ability to provide a type of love and comfort that humans can’t, and that’s OK. Bonding with a support animal is a lot like bonding with your best friend. Of course all of your other friends are important to you, but your best friend holds a special place in your heart that not just anyone can access.

There are many people who will say that their pet, ESA or not, has improved their quality of life and has even saved their life. Having a pet or an ESA can help you navigate the hardest parts in your life such as a long term condition, mental illness, grief, addiction, anxiety, stress, etc. In my personal experience, there have been times where I haven’t felt like getting out of bed for days to take care of myself due to having crippling depression, but I knew that I had to get up and take care of my pets, one ESA and one non ESA. 

I knew that I had to get up and walk my dog, which in turn got me to do some physical activity and be out in sunshine and nature. I knew that I had to feed the pets so while I was up I would remember to feed myself. Taking care of them in turn made me take care of myself when I would’ve just let myself waste away in bed hoping not to wake up the next day. And when those feelings would come, I would have my cat in my arms purring and cuddling with me and I knew that at least right now was going to be OK and every minute that I was around to get those cuddles from her was more than worth it. I had my precious fur babies to take care of, they needed me and I needed them, so I had to stick around. They have gotten me through some of my darkest times that I would not have been able to do without them.

The love of a pet that you have bonded with is one of the purest and most genuine forms of love that you can feel. Cuddling with them in the happiest of times while jumping around in excitement, holding on to them as your tears drop onto their fur, and everything in between is how they support you.

If your pet has helped you through a hard time or even saved your life, don’t let anyone make you feel like that isn’t valid.  Your pet can be the bright spot that you need when you feel like you’re stuck in a world of darkness. We will all face a time where we feel like we need a reason to go on and keep living, and pets definitely provide us with that. 

Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash

Originally published: November 6, 2020
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