Anyone who knows me will no doubt know what an animal lover I am and have always been. Years ago I found a joy and companionship in animals that I never found in other human beings and today that has only increased a thousandfold!
Animals have an innate ability to bring out the best in people and to show us all what we should aspire to be. Calm, relaxed, loving, authentic, loyal, devoted, affectionate and grateful for little thing. What mentors!
As my health has worsened, and in times of flares and terrible pain, there has been no relief and support to rival that of my furry little family. Ask any chronically ill person how they cope and ninety percent of the time you will hear the word pet mentioned repeatedly. They are almost synonymous the words chronic illness and companion animals.
I would never have made it this far without the love and devotion of my furry family and they have been my entire family during hard times and challenges.
The fact that they require us to look after them and take responsibility for their health and well-being means that we can never become lost in self pity. They also serve as a source of self esteem and self worth. Regardless of how the rest of the world may value us or regard us our pets see us as worthy and love us unconditionally, no matter how we look or function.
My darling furry family have often been the inspiration I needed to fight on when I had lost all hope, and are the reason I am still here today. Therefore it is my sincere hope that as society changes and evolves so too will the way that animals are treated (and the rights they have) will also evolve. Social policies and governances which recognized how important companion animals are would see them protected and cared for in a manner befitting their roles in society.
My first advice that I would give anyone who told me that they were chronically ill or have health challenges is to get a companion animal… get two! They are without doubt the strongest support, companionship and source of happiness you will ever find. They are also a powerful pain killer when you need it most.
The hardest part of having a pet in your life is facing life without them. Trust me. I have had the honour to care for many furry lives in my time and I can attest to all that I have stated above. I recognize that you don’t have to be sick or disabled to love your pet but the chronically ill experience having a pet in an entirely different way than most people. They have a far deeper role in our lives.
Our rescue pets have rescued me from more difficulty and pain than I care to remember and I pour my love on them in return. I confess that an active bigger dog will have more physical needs than many sufferers may be able to accommodate but I have no doubt that for every sufferer there is a dog, cat or other that can fill the space that the chronically ill may have. No matter their abilities.
I have never known a deeper or more enduring bond than that of a pet / companion animal and their human counterparts and I am happy to see that some countries have recognized this within their medical, transport and housing policies. Some countries even allow companion animals into their hospitals as they are well aware of the healing powers of their love.
As I write this piece I am surrounded by my furry family and they are sleeping soundly beside me, and on me. I never feel like I am not worthy, I never feel like I am not enough, I never feel rejected by these little souls and in my book that makes them better than all the human beings in this world.
Footnote: This piece focuses primarily on the role of the companion animal and is deliberately not intended to be a larger comment on animals and wildlife in general, but it is my opinion that there needs to be radical change in all areas and hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later.