Homer, my fluffy white Samoyed, was meant to ease my anxiety, not cause it.
But from the day Homer entered our lives he was stubborn, manic, bossy, unwilling to cuddle, impossible to train, and beyond high-maintenance.
Not really the kind of dog you want as an emotional support animal.
I first heard about emotional support animals through a friend. To me, they seemed like a sneaky way for people to take their yappy dogs on planes or bypass apartment regulations.
Then I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
I saw a million therapists and psychiatrists. I took Prozac, Lexapro, and Wellbutrin. I tried hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). But no amount of drugs or alternative therapies made it better. It had only gotten worse.
One day, lost in the vortex of trying to Google remedies to cure myself, I stumbled across the idea of an emotional support animal.
Article after article explained the benefits of animals in terms of how they reduce anxiety. They calm you, bring you back to earth, and force you outside when you’d rather live in bed.
I was sold on the idea of a furry companion—a smiling ball of love who’d wake me up on days that seemed unbearable.
So my husband and I found a dog — an 8-week-old Samoyed who was ready to come live with us.
Later, I talked to my doctor about getting an official prescription. I could get a pet without one, of course, but if this dog was going to be my “medicine,” I didn’t want to risk not being able to take it. Our apartment wasn’t dog-friendly, so I also needed a note confirming my condition was real and that my prescription was a dog.
Two therapy sessions later, I had a prescription and we had Homer. He was a tiny, smiling, jolly ball of cotton. When we picked him up at the airport, and the baggage handler — 200 pounds and covered in tattoos — asked us, “Can I keep him?”