No One Understands Me Like My Animals Do
By Katie Golway
I have always been baffled by how receptive animals are to human emotion. Animals become familiar with patterns of behavior, noting a shift that other people may choose to ignore. They are more aware than we credit them for.
I fawned over my guinea pigs in my youth. Fluffy was constantly in my lap. She and I spent many nights watching VHS tapes on my dial television. There were some days when she seemed to be my only friend. Her company was a refuge from the ridicule I received at school. I mourned for days when she passed.
I was ten when we brought home our dog, Emmy. Just the other day I looked at her and thought about how much trouble I would be in if she could talk. Emmy watched over the years as selfish children became decent adults. She heard weeping while we were home alone and the next morning meant a new week of school. Emmy supported my mother whenever she fretted over her children without our knowledge. Pets keep secrets.
Emmy’s faithful vigilance was the reason why I sought a therapy dog for emotional support. I was taken aback by the prices that I found. A dog could cost up to $20,000 to cover their proper training. Insurance often does not cover therapy animals. Companies will cover the cost of a cane for those who are vision impaired, but they do not consider an animal guide to be a necessity.
I spent nights poring over nonprofit websites that trained therapy dogs in an attempt to find reasonable prices. There was one group in particular who returned my email with some concern. When we spoke on the phone; however, they were quick to dismiss my trauma because I am not a war veteran. I was left confused and devastated by the implication that my experiences were insignificant.
I decided to turn my attention to small animals. I brought home guinea pigs who looked exactly like the ones I had as a child. They are often the reason I keep moving forward. Ensuring that these animals lead has given me a sense of purpose. They expect only love, and I am happy to give it.
Animals depend on the goodness of people. Seeking the company of an animal can de-escalate a panic attack and reduce stress. My animals’ happiness has become my own. They owe me nothing, but they give me everything.