Meet Tyke, My Emotional Support Dog!
Ever since I was younger, I always loved the idea of having a dog. Taking it on walks, having something home with me 24/7, and maybe even dressing it in dog clothes (😅). But throughout this past year, as I was taking on a lot of anxiety and depression, I looked into natural remedies to assuage it because I definitely didn't want to deal with pills and all that, unless it was absolutely necessary. Through my research I came across the option of an emotional support animal, or ESA for short. "How the heck do animals help with anxiety," was my first thought, but after doing a bit of research, I came to find that they are extremely helpful in the most simple ways for many different issues (i.e. anxiety, depression, and phobias.)
As you may know from previous posts, I began going to therapy for my anxiety at the beginning of this year, through my sessions, my therapist granted me her permission to acquire an emotional support animal. Any animal can be considered an ESA, and they do not need any form of training. Personally, I say it would be wise for someone dealing with one of these issues to considered getting their pet trained, in order to take some of the weight off of their shoulders because it can be difficult depending on the age and type of animal. Anyway, all you need is a formal letter from your mental health provider stating that they recommend you for an emotional support animal. Some providers do not deem it necessary for their patients, and some see the great benefits that they provide. It just all depends on your condition and your doctor.
I received my letter from my doctor April 4th of last and she recommend that I didn't jump straight into getting a pet because I was a few weeks shy of graduating, and I was also preparing to relocate after graduation. She knew that it would be way too much for me to take on mentally, so I listened, and sat on the idea of having a puppy. My best friend's family dog was having puppies and they offered to give me one, free of charge. There was no money involved, no paperwork or anything, so I knew that if deep down in my gut, I knew I couldn't handle it then I could always back out; but everything felt right so we went through with it. June 2nd was the day I got my pup and named him Tyke. Originally his name was Chico, but I didn't think it fit him or his personality. He's such a sweet, mild mannered dog; and can be very shy at times. He is a pretty good listener to say he's still a puppy (9 months), as well as being very smart and is obviously a great puppy model.
I do feel that he helps me daily with my anxiety. When my fiancé is working nights, he helps me not to feel anxious about the millions of thoughts that run through my head, or comfort while driving. Mornings when I'm feeling down and can't find the motivation to do anything, I know that I have to get up and tend to his needs, walk him, feed him, play with him, and all of those little things help me feel better as a whole. It's definitely the small things that matter. I'm still not 100% comfortable with getting candid about my mental health because I hate feeling vulnerable & have been in situations where I feel like it has been used against me. I'm slowly getting there but I will say, if you're experiencing tough mental matters, seek help, seek other options, and a ESA might be the move for you!