Community Blog: Pets

Could you convince a non-pet owner on the fence to have one?

Owning a pet/s is known to have a positive impact on a person’s health, ranging from lifting up your spirits in tough times, showing you what unconditional love looks like, to encouraging a healthy regimen of active lifestyle.

Pets are a great joy to be around and radiate smiles along the paths everywhere they walk. While personalities of different breeds of a pet are similar, different types of animals can cater to different needs of a family. Thus, choosing a breed and a pet to adopt is all about choosing the one that will best fit and integrate with the family and best serve your own/family needs.

We shared a list of questions and heard three community members respond to them. The questions we asked pertained to others’ experiences as a disabled person, and how having a pet changed their lives for the better!

Below are the questions we asked and the answers we heard from three SSD community members. 🙂

  • How have pets enabled your lifestyle?

“Belle – She is like one of our children, included in everything they do- vacation, hiking. Emotional support for the whole family. She has 2 main places to slouch- one in the living room, and on son’s bed. She aids us get through bad times. She is an older dog( turning 12) thus having to set limitations on some things they do but included in most of it. Especially in medical procedures, always there as an emotional support and we can always count on her. Belle is like another parent for my kids (she reminds them to eat, reminds them to play, etc). She is not leashed(rarely), always free.” – Victoria

“Having a cat keeps me in a bit more of a structural rhythm; for example, I have to feed her regularly, play with her regularly, and attend to her other needs which keeps me on a bit of a rhythm as well! Having a cat has enabled my lifestyle because I don’t have to walk her 2-3 times a day like a dog would need, but I get the snuggles and interaction that I also crave. “ – Phil

“I have unique circumstances that mean I need to stay in my apartment for extended periods of time. My cat keeps me company while making me stick to a morning and nightly routine of care.” – Renée

  • Do you find it comforting to have a pet? Have you found having a pet(s) more work? 

While people find them comforting, it comes at a cost of expenses and time.

“Always more work- like having another family member. Meds and vet appointments are expensive. Going out with her to watch waterfalls, swimming, makes living a healthier lifestyle. If going on vacation, I have to find someone to sit with her, thus it becomes a little bit more work and effort regarding her housing situation.”  – Victoria

“I firmly believe that having a pet is a protective factor in terms of mental/emotional stability. Yes, of course having a pet/s will require ‘work’ or labor, such as getting them to vet appointments, spending time with, cleaning, etc., but knowledgeable pet owners will know how to fit these tasks into their life.“ – Phil

“I’ve lived without a cat for a brief period of time, and it was the worst. I find so much companionship with cats, and I couldn’t be happy without one around. I have other pets that require more upkeep and management, and while at first it can be a lot to adjust to I ultimately enjoy the process of maintaining their homes and dietary needs. It was something I craved when I was reliant on other people for my care, and I find a huge amount of satisfaction in providing the best I can for my eccentric little pals. “ – Renée

  • How did you choose your pet?

“Belle is a service animal but we did take her years ago as a rehomed lab-collie. I saw an advertisement at the office and they were looking for potential families to place her when she was 4 and was overweight. So, I had to get her down and fix her diet. We had to watch to not overfeed her, and managed to drop her 8lbs in 5.5 months without starving, making her exercise more. “ – Victoria

“I knew I wanted a cat. They don’t require as much energy or regularity as dogs or other animals, and are still fun in a mammalian kind of way.”- Phil

“A cat for me is a no-brainer. I have lived with cats for as long as I have been alive, and they’re a constant for me. My specific cat I chose because he was a bit slower to warm up to me, but eventually flopped next to me for a bath. Plus he peed behind his foster’s couch and his sister got the blame! That was when he was 4 weeks old, and when I saw him again at 6 weeks he chased his tail relentlessly and I knew I had made the right choice. My other pets I chose from developing minor obsessions with their species, spending months looking into care, and taking even longer to make the perfect habitats for them. It’s a long-term process for a long-term pet! “ -Renée

  • What are the qualities you like/dislike about your pet?

“Love.  Love.  Did I say love? She is very friendly and loving to the known to’s. Very alert for the most part, sweet, will tolerate being dressed up. When she farts, one wants to leave the room.  For the bad parts – have you really experienced life if you have never smelled a fart from a lab?.” -Victoria

“ Nobody ever really likes dealing with poop, so that’s always a dislike. My crested gecko gets a pass on the poops though, since hers are so small and don’t smell by the time I deal with them! I dislike worrying about how they’re doing as much as I do, and I dislike when we lose them to time. I love companionship, I even love my pets that I know hate my guts! I love watching them all be themselves and do the things that come naturally to them. I love knowing that they’re content and living the best lives I can possibly give them. I love finding new developments in best care practices, and I love that I don’t feel alone even while I’m on my own for months at a time. They keep me to a schedule, they keep me entertained, and they keep me accountable and give me responsibilities to live up to.”-Renée

Concluding thoughts:

From people’s insights on their pets, we can see that while some pets and their breed might require some extra tender, loving and care- from everything in between of giving extra treats, to making more often veterinarian appointments, taking them on longer walks, and giving them showers more frequently, one thing is common- the unconditional love and support we get from them. Snuggles, walking them in parks and meeting new company and endless pictures of us with them in the silliest yet the most mundane moments- always seem to bring a cheerful smile on our faces and the neighbors.  Hope this blogpost gives you a little insight of how our contributors’ lives changed for the better with the addition of a pet; with sparkles of extra joy, laughter and beautiful memories full of comfort.

“For the nine years my children have been going through surgeries and pain, Belle has stood by them and been there all the way along.  She does not ask much of us and provides us with so much love.”- Victoria

“As long as we’re willing to take on the responsibility of doing the best we possibly can for them, having animals can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience! “ -Renée

Belle participating in lab experiments
Poppy tolerating cuddles
Meeni-gow thinking
Grumpy about bathing