Meet My Emotional Support Animal

Harold, the Hungarian Hound


This past year of 2019–2020, my priorities shifted out of necessity. For survival. My depression and anxiety have been a constant battle. Over a year ago, I went through a divorce after 20+ years of marriage.

With that, came many changes. I accepted a job far away from all my family and friends. I moved, and took one of the three dogs with me. Harold became my emotional support. However, I became unemployed again, as many have during the pandemic. I did find another job, but it doesn’t pay enough to support myself. Therefore, I have moved back in with my parents at age 45 in the midst of a pandemic. Good times, right?

Harold and me.

Many days, my energy goes toward surviving each day and recuperating each night.

He is my emotional support animal. I know many people feel that an emotional support animal is ridiculous; however, it really is a real thing. It’s something depressed and anxious me needs.

  • He loves me unconditionally; I’m his favorite person by far. He actually has separation anxiety when it comes to me. He needs to know I’m there and I’m okay. (I think I’m his emotional support human.)
  • He listens to me. Yes, I talk to him about everything.
  • He cuddles with me, and at night he sleeps on the bed with me, making sure he is touching me. Oftentimes, he likes to curl up behind my knees.
  • He makes me get up and about; he demands I walk him several times a day.
  • He paws me awake in the morning, making sure I get out of bed.
  • He barks at me at night and walks toward the bedroom to tell me we need to go to bed. If I ignore him, he returns to me and barks until I oblige. He keeps me on a schedule.
  • Emotional Support Animals (ESA’s) are not the same as Service Dogs or Therapy Dogs. Below are the main differences between ESA’s and Service Dogs.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights FAQ

ADA National Network

Top 10 Myths About Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

He’s made me a believer in the power of emotional support animals. Unfortunately, many people fraudulently claim to have an Emotional Support Animal, and it makes all of us look bad. However, the reality remains that they are beneficial to those in need. According to Gail Saltz, M.D., a psychiatrist and author, “Their presence, their unconditional love, their warmth and softness to pet and hold are all thought to be mood-boosting,” she says. “The need to care for them provides structure, purpose, and being needed.”

Personally, Harold has definitely helped with my battles of depression and anxiety.

How has an animal helped you? Share in the comments!

Copyright © 2020 Alicia Rust. All rights reserved.

Writer. Lover of dark chocolate, coffee, tea, & being me. I’m an anxiety-ridden, bipolar 2 survivor...

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