In case you missed it, a peacock named Dexter was not allowed to board a United Airlines flight with his owner, who claimed he was her emotional-support companion. Over the past few years, passengers have discovered this fine print as a way to avoid paying to have their pets travel with them. Businesses have popped up on-line where for just $30 you can purchase a psychological diagnosis. Present this at check-in and save the $100-plus fee ($200-plus RT) for your Dexter. Or Fido or Fluffy.
The idea of using pets for emotional support is not new and recent studies have confirmed that owning a cat can reduce your risk of heart failure. Earlier studies found the same for dogs, though in that case, the frequent dog walking was a contributing factor. This is no surprise to me; I’ve found that the more cats I have, the more relaxed I feel (except when it comes time to change the litter pans).
Unfortunately for animal lovers, many landlords and condo associations limit the number of pets to two per household. But Dexter has inspired a way around this restriction. Have a “psychiatrist” prescribe emotional-support animals for each of your psychological issues. Normally, you’d get a diagnosis and choose a companion to match it. For this purpose, you first decide what type of pet you want. Then you search out a diagnosis to support that. Let’s look at examples of how some of these would match up.
If you claim to be bipolar, you’ll need a companion to lift you out of your depression. Kittens are particularly useful for this. Who can stay sad while watching a little, fluffy creature chasing a laser light, batting at a bird that's dancing on a wand, or mauling a fuzzy catnip mouse? Want a kitten? Get diagnosed as bipolar.
Being bipolar will also help you justify a different feline to bring you down from your manic high. If you love a lap cat, this diagnosis is for you. It’s important to “test drive” a cat to make sure that it fits on your lap and that your cushioning syncs up with their preferred lap positioning. Ideally, look for one with a loud purr, a bonus in helping you calm down. This second one will also serve as a companion to the first when it runs out of steam.
Chances are you also suffer from ADHD. It seems like everyone does these days. So you’ll need a third pet to keep you focused. Cats are generally better at distracting their owners than in helping them focus. A dog, on the other hand, will often sit patiently, leash in mouth, waiting for you to pay attention, thus teaching you by example. If you’re a dog person, ADHD is the disorder you’ll want.
Speaking of dogs, what better reason why you’d “need” a French Poodle than being neurotic? Your (hypothetical) neurosis will pale in comparison to that of your fluffy companion. It’s why I stand next to folks who are heavier than I am so I’ll look thinner in photos.
Are you paranoid? (If your landlord or association “police” are snooping around your home, you should be.) This definitely justifies adding a very large (and loud) dog to your brood. Your “doctor” can point out how having such a guard animal in the household will mitigate your “illness.”
Once you’ve adopted several therapy animals, you’ll need yet an additional one to deal with the legitimate PTSD caused by the others. No matter how careful you are in your adoption process, having multiple four-legged creatures in one household will certainly result in some dust ups. You’ll want to add a senior addition to the pack to keep the rest of them in line. Or you might consider a different species altogether for this. A militaristic parrot perhaps?
The crazier you claim to be, the more pets you can justify. Those who know me will not be surprised that I could qualify for an entire cat colony. Please visit your local shelter to find your emotional-support pets. They should have one for each of your psychological needs and it will be a win-win situation.
Be assured that this essay is social satire. It is in no way meant to demean those who suffer from actual psychological problems. However, I do seriously suggest trying at least one therapy cat or dog. They really can work wonders. Just look at what they’ve done for me. Or maybe don’t…