ME, Myself and I: Furry Therapy

I’m not talking about an official group or trained animals, it’s about pets and companions more than anything. I don’t know how many places or groups call it furry therapy but that’s what it was always called in AYME so I’ve sort of gone with it again here. I doesn’t have to be furry, it can be scaly, feathery, spiky or slippery (I’m not sure what could be slippery apart from frogs) and anything else you want to call it. I’ve known a lot of people with ME over the years and a lot of people have found that animals can be very beneficial, they’re someone that’s always there and happy to see you, or most of them are. I guess the most popular is dogs from the people I have known but any animal can be a great listener.

This is one of those posts that I meant to do ages ago, it was one of those in my list of posts when I first started this section on the blog but it just never happened. I was also inspired by having to spend over an hour trying to get our dog to let us remove a tic from his ear, which was rather exhausting but he finally let us and got his treat. You’d think being eleven years old he’d be quiet and calm but he still thinks he’s a puppy. I was planning on including photos in this post but it seems like it’s even harder to get him to sit still for a photo.

When you’re at home alone, or even when there are others there it can still get a bit lonely especially on bad days when you need to spend most of the time in bed or at least resting for quite a bit of it and having conversations or interacting with people is just too much. On those days I find that having a pet is really helpful, they’re someone who will listen no matter what you say and they’re always (or at least normally) happy to see you and sit there or run around while you stroke them. If you’re lucky they’ll be the kind that will happily lay there and sleep while you watch TV or whatever you do when you’re resting.

At one time I felt so alone, even with people who knew what I was going through in local group meetups and my family around, even at that point my school friends were still in contact I think. I felt like I needed someone or something to talk to and, although our dog is great, I wanted something that was mine that I could have a responsibility for rather than relying on my parents for everything. As I’ve always had animals around growing up and when I was first ill we had our dog Ricky it seemed like a good idea to me, and sort of the natural thing to do, to get some gerbils. I had a group of three boys who were great and lived to be five years old, at least one of them did, so they were old for gerbils, and I did end up spending quite a bit on one when he was ill but he lived another year and was happy and used to curl up and purr on my hand when I held him (I say purr, there’s probably a proper name for when gerbils do it rather than purring) so he was a great companion alongside his brothers. I did have a group of girls after and they were a lot faster, I only ever had one out at a time as they would decide they wanted to investigate that thing on the other side of the room and they’d try to jump off the bed. I guess it shows that even if you get an animal that you expect to have one temperament (I was used to fast gerbils before the boys) they can be the total opposite.

I have had my bearded dragon for nearly six years now and he’s often wandering around in my room on my bed with his blanket to hide in if he wants and though there isn’t the same happy to see you look of dogs, or even the gerbils sometimes, he still knows who I am and likes to hang onto me. I’ve always loved reptiles and decided that I wanted to get one for myself, I think I did nearly a year of researching before I got him and I’d recommend anyone who is even thinking about it to look at everything you need and the cost of keeping them as the food and electricity needed for the lighting or heat source is something that needs to be considered as well as finding the correct housing. Sorry if this kind of turned into a bit of a lecture but I see a lot of people who know reptiles and how to keep them and they say that a lot of the sets sold for them aren’t right so it’s something I’ve come to feel quite strongly about.

Not really a pet but I also love my cacti, in a different way probably but they’re still something I have to look after and you can get great decorations and pots for them. I have a mini cactus garden thing my parents bought me for completing my degree which is on my windowsill alongside my tall purple succulent that I can never remember the name of that I’m waiting to repot into my bulbasaur and another that looks like a trunk with a spiky fan on the end that I’ve never seen anywhere else. They don’t talk to me and I haven’t given them names but I do talk to them sometimes, which probably comes off as more crazy than I want it to but I think it’s good to talk to them sometimes. I’m also going to add some sort of spiky succulent into the group, we have some downstairs that have kind of taken over their pot so I’ll get one of the mini ones that has grown in there for my oddish. I find cacti and succulents are good as they’re more likely to survive as long as you don’t over water them, they seem to like it here and you get the pleasure of seeing something grow and live and it may seem weird to say but they’re also my responsibility as they’re mine so it’s sort of an accomplishment when they pull through if they don’t look too good at one time.

I think that since having animals that are my own, and by that I mean not our family dog Ricky, though he is very nice and great for cuddles when he’s in the right mood, I have found that it’s a great feeling to have something that’s your responsibility. I don’t really have many responsibilities in my life as I’m too ill to live on my own and don’t have a job so for the past eleven or twelve years I haven’t really had anything that I am personally responsible for besides them. There’s no bills, nothing that I have to do besides my OU work which didn’t really feel like adult responsibility, more like being at school still to be honest. Having the gerbils and then Ianto the bearded dragon has been a good experience for me as a person as well as having something to talk to as I’ve had to make decisions about them, about what’s best for them and some of those decisions were very hard to make. I hated making them at the time but having made them I knew they were right and I learned from it.

The main point is that I think that having something to talk to and something that doesn’t necessarily answer back or try to fix whatever it is that you’re feeling at the time is a good thing. It doesn’t have to even be a live animal, pet rocks and stuffed toys make good listeners too. Also if you are considering a pet think about it for a while as it’s a big commitment, which I probably don’t need to say but I have no idea what age the people are who read my blog and I just wanted to include it.

Do any of you guys have pets or anything else that’s a great furry therapy companion? If you do what are they? Any pet rock owners out there? I had one for a while but he ended up on my windowsill and his face faded a bit.

Hope you’re all as well as possible and wrapping up and enjoying the more autumnal weather now it’s here properly. I bought some fingerless gloves with the mitten flap things the other day from Primark as I only have one from two different pairs after last year. With the boots and jumper I bought recently it feels like I’m getting ready for winter already!

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