The emotional support pet

dog-and-catOne week ago, my husband and I lost our beloved 15 year old parrot. He had been ill for about a month, but we were hoping so much that he was on the mend. But the two days before his passing he took a sudden turn for the worse, and it became obvious that he  might not survive for much longer. Before he was up for another ride to the avian vet, he had another seizure (he had had two in the past month) and he was gone. My husband and I were devastated. We are both still in the midst of the grieving process, and feel a deep deep loss.

My parrot, Lima, was not just a beloved pet to me, but was for me, an unofficial emotional support animal. I remember when we first adopted him, I was in an emotional turmoil. Severely over stressed at work and becoming symptomatic with bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness. I remember taking extra long lunches in order to drive 30 minutes to the pet shop to visit him, when he was still too young of a chick to go home with me. After we brought him home, he was the bright spot in my evenings and his presence was calming. Unfortunately, though, I became more and more ill over time and ended up hospitalized. That was the beginning of a period of almost 12 years of me being home unable to work. Luckily not alone, because I had him.

green-apothecarist-001I know how loving and caring pets of all sorts can be, but parrots are no exception. My parrot could read my moods and would act accordingly. He comforted me when I was sad, played with me when I needed to be stimulated, kissed me…just because. When he saw me crying I could see the concern in his eyes. Truly! And I really needed that “someone” to be there with me when my husband couldn’t. I think pets can be emotional supporters to whole families, but to me (a childless woman with a mental illness), he was a son, a brother, an adjunct medication, an additional therapist, and a sweetheart in one.

I have no doubt that my loving pet kept me on this earth when otherwise I might have given up. I also give him credit for keeping me out of the hospital for the last 7 years, when I might otherwise have relapsed too far.

It was rare that I looked over at my loving parrot and didn’t find him watching me. There were also so many times when I was wasting away in bed that he called out to me to get him. And if I didn’t come right away, he persisted in his calling. And persisted. And persisted. Then I finally dragged my butt out from beneath the covers and retrieved him, to be met again with kisses. Every day he spent hours on my shoulder, often cheek to cheek. The feel of his warmth and soft feathers, even the smell of him was so comforting.

The idea of a service animal, such as for the blind or disabled, is so touching. The relationships they have. The extreme service that the animal provides. What heroes! But emotional support animals, both official and unofficial, can be just as significant for many. Having had an an unofficial emotional support animal I have developed an even greater love and respect for animals. That symbiotic relationship teaches you about their intelligence and capacity to love across species. Often I talked about that love with my psychiatrist. Initially he just labeled it “attachment”, but I am not just a romantic, I know what my pet and I felt for each other. It was pure love. Honestly, other than my husband and my immediate family, I have never felt so loved as I did when my sweet Lima was with me. Pet owners, you know that unconditional love, don’t you?

My husband and I gave my pet Lima a proper funeral. He now lies in my father’s woods next to a huge boulder. We buried him with his favorite toys, and a photograph of my husband and I. During the burial we also planted a blooming azalea. My father promised to maintain it. Hubby and I also bought two packets of Forget-Me-Not seeds, which we plan to plant on his grave. We are also currently creating a memory book in his honor. These are just some of the things we’ve done to help us in the grieving process. I urge anyone who loses their beloved pet to take the extra step(s) to honor their pet. It could be playing a special song, or just bringing up funny or sweet recollections.

Do you have an official or “unofficial” emotional support animal?

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28 thoughts on “The emotional support pet

    • updownflight February 26, 2017 / 3:37 am

      Thanks, Kitt. And thank you for visiting my new blog. I look forward to following your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. dyane February 27, 2017 / 12:17 am

    I relate to the feelings you express so poignantly this post.
    My dog Lucy means everything to me, and she’s definitely my unofficial E.S.A. I only wish I had her after I was diagnosed in 2007 instead of almost 3 years ago, but at least we were brought together.
    I write about her frequently – I call her my muse! We even share the same birthday. (March 18th)

    My deepest sympathies go to you and your husband – may your beloved Lima rest in peace!

    (((hugs)))
    Dyane

    Liked by 2 people

    • updownflight February 27, 2017 / 2:34 am

      dyane, I’m happy that you still have your Lucy, and how cool it is that you share the same birthday.

      I know that even people without mental illness get major benefits from their pets, but I think those of us with mental illness truly regard them as a major part of our support systems sometimes. The unconditional love they give us is priceless.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. joyouswritings May 2, 2017 / 3:45 am

    I love animals! The first two cats I can remember having (I’ve has cats all my life) were named Buster and Sheba. They were both beautiful black cats.
    They were both outside cats, but one day, I had been at a friend’s house when my friend’s mom rushed me to my house. Buster had been hit my a car. I was so sad, but thanking God I still had Sheba.
    Then, a few years later Tony(brown, balck, white, and gray tabby) came along! My best friend and I were at a campfire at my house when we found him. We both fell in love with him at once! My parents told me I couldn’t keep him, but I went out everyday and fed him, even in the snow. And finally my parents told me I could have him. I was so happy!
    Then Sheba started getting sick. She had tumors all over her body, to the point it hurt her if we touched her. We finally had to put her down it got so bad. Again, I was thanking God and praising Him I had Tony! We has to put Sheba down the day before my birthday; so the day after my birthday is the day we got Freddie! A black and white tuxedo cat.
    (And now we have a dog!)
    Animals have been a healing friend so many times for me when I need them. I understand😊.
    Sorry for you loss!😓 I’m sure Lima is in birdie heaven right now, with no seizures, and no pain.😊
    -Reba Cray😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 2, 2017 / 12:53 pm

      Reba, thank you for telling me your story about your cats. I’m sorry you’ve had to lose them in such ways, but I’m glad you found new kitties to love.

      I know my little Lima is definitely in a happy place. We buried him next to our previous parrot. I hope they meet each other and enjoy playing and telling stories about my husband and I.

      Like

      • joyouswritings May 2, 2017 / 2:30 pm

        We buried our cats next to each other too.
        I’m sure Lima and your previous parrot are happily sharing stories and laughs together.
        Maybe my cats are too. I’m sure they’re probably fighting over which one caught the biggest mole lol😁
        -Reba Cray😆

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 2, 2017 / 3:40 pm

        I hope my parrots are friends.

        Reba, I attempted to visit your blog. When I clicked your blog link I only saw the following message:

        “This site is marked private by its owner. If you would like to view it, you’ll need permission from the site owner. Request an invite and we’ll send your username to the site owner for their approval.”

        I can understand if you really want privacy and the ability to screen possible viewers, but know that that will deter some people. I clicked the link in that message because I am acquainted with you, but most people probably wouldn’t. That will limit the number of people who visit and eventually follow your blog. If you don’t like that message appearing, you should find a way to eliminate it.

        Like

  3. gracelessunderfireblog May 11, 2017 / 11:39 am

    My daughter had an ESA. He was a terrier/ American bully mix with too much personality and horrific gas. We loved him unconditionally. He was with us for 7 years of my daughter’s battle with ESRD, before becoming ill himself. Our beloved Bosco had developed Cushing’s disease and a rare type of skin cancer. I spent months and a truckload of cash I didn’t have hauling him to vets for treatments, but sadly the final consensus was that he was terminal, in horrid pain, and all involved felt it would be best to end his suffering. We took him home that Friday and spoiled him rotten. He got his own Mcdonalds happy meals, pizza, some steaks, even some cake. The next Monday, we took him to the doggie doctor one last time. I held him on my lap and wrapped in my arms as he took his last breath. That was over a year ago, and I’m leaking tears even now, writing of it. I never discount the impact that animals have on out lives, and hope for another since we are now landlord free and in our own house. There’ll never be another Bosco, but there will always be animals out there to love and be loved by.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 11, 2017 / 12:35 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your story about Bosco. I’m so happy he was there for you and your daughter. Yes, it is so devastating to lose such an important part of the family. I’m glad his final days included as much spoiling as possible. You will never forget him.

      I hope you do get another pet as soon as it feels right. I am thinking that a new pet would be good for me, too, but my husband is still not ready.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gracelessunderfireblog May 11, 2017 / 12:46 pm

        It took my daughter a long time to want another as well. She feared that it would be replacing Bosco. Now she realizes that nothing can replace him, and there are many pets out there that need love to.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 11, 2017 / 12:49 pm

        I’m glad she realizes that Bosco will never be replaced. That’s how I feel about my little bird, Lima. But I will respect my hubby’s wish to completely go through the grieving process. I won’t say I’m completely through it yet, but since I’m home alone all day I have more of a yearning for the company and support.

        Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 23, 2017 / 10:36 am

      Hi steinbrechersite. That’s nice that you wish to repost my “Emotional support pet” post. I’m glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • steinbrechersite May 23, 2017 / 11:25 am

        I have a post I have been saving to put on my blog about the amazing Max the rat. The story is posted to my Wastebook, but no one likes that place anymore. Anyway, the time has not come for me to blog my “Max the rat” story, though I have shared it many times. We are a family of veterinarians, technicians, artists, and musicians. It seems people like us struggle with our brains. So, it seems. Max was Jake’s best friend, he sat with Jake all the time. Great minds think alike :). I read through your journey through in patient treatment, and my heart bled for you. It was a tough choice which one off your posts to reblog, they are all so brave! However,I needed something positive on my line and your post was it. So, really thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 23, 2017 / 12:31 pm

        If and when the time comes that you post a “Max the rat” story I would very much want to see it. I’ll be sure to follow your blog just in case that time does come.

        You are so sweet to say what you did about my in patient journey. I see you as being just as brave, if not more brave, for surviving after such a tragedy with your son. How strong you are!

        I told my husband a bit about your story and he looked it up. I think it is wonderful that you have created a fund for children who wish to dance, like Jake. Dancing has been so important to me in my life, too. May we all meet in a place in the future where we all dance together and celebrate music.

        Like

  4. steinbrechersite May 23, 2017 / 2:53 am

    Jake’s rat, Max has been my sole support system through this. Max just turned 2. Animals are simply amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 23, 2017 / 10:39 am

      I’m so happy that you have a sweet supporter like Max, steinbrechersite.

      Like

  5. uapsnu May 27, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    On the very day it was proven that William Shakespeare’s grave had been disturbed soon after burial, I purchased Oliver, my lovely green parrot. A strange coincidence, for I came to believe that Oliver was the reincarnation of the Bard himself.
    Being a Shakespearean actor, I would often practise my lines at home. To my initial amazement, Oliver would join in.
    “To be or not to be,” I would intone.
    “That is the question,” Oliver would squawk.
    And if I began, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” Oliver would finish, “And our little lives are rounded with a sleep.”
    This talent Oliver hid from all but me. Never once did he make a mistake.
    Whenever I placed a picture of Shakespeare in his cage, he would gaze at it in fascination, chattering away indistinctly. I could never tell if he was addressing himself or the image. Once I think I heard the phrase: “Words, words, words”, infused with such longing and wistful regret that I felt compelled to leave the room and honour his privacy.
    When Oliver died, he had been my friend for nearly five years. I gently placed him in a bread bin and buried him, secretly, in a place near Stratford where a willow grows aslant a brook.
    My task completed, I whispered: “Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
    I half expected him to respond, but the rest was silence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 27, 2017 / 1:04 pm

      Oh, what a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing this, uapsnu. I hope that if he now dwells in a land with those of the past, he sits upon William Shakespeare’s shoulder.

      Like

  6. Jessica Bakkers June 1, 2017 / 3:39 am

    My heart breaks for you. I don’t know how I’ll cope the day one of my two ‘girls’ goes. They’re 17 in December which is a damn good age for dogs. I’m so worried next year might be their last.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. moo393 September 3, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    I’ve just read your most recent post about getting a new boy in your life, so I thought I’d check out this post, as there was a link. I’m sorry for your lost (I know- I’m a bit late apologising). I hope your now coping, considering it’s been a while now and that your loving your new parrot. Good luck with him- he’ll take some getting use to. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight September 3, 2017 / 4:25 pm

      Thanks do much, moo393. My Lima will always be in my heart, but it was time to give another bird boy our love. It’s funny to think about, but my new guy could potentially live for 30 years. I’ll be an old woman if he lives that long.

      Liked by 1 person

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