April is National Pet Month! Pets have become a part of our family and culture for years. From fur-babies, fur families, grand-puppies, feline-friendships, snake-sisters, bunny brothers, house hamsters and everything in between. Emotional and support animals have been crucial in the disability community and a great addition to most families.
What is National Pet Month?
National Pet Month is back, and it is even better than ever, attracting thousands of animal lovers to celebrate the value of pet ownership. Every year National Pet Month brings together animal welfare charities, professional bodies, businesses, and schools to promote good pet ownership, raise funds for good causes and to have fun!
Emotional vs Service Animals
A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button.
Emotional support animals are considered pets instead of service animals under the new rules that went into effect on December 2020. The federal government gave its final approval on a set of rules that clamp down on the types of service animals allowed on U.S. flights, reserving the designation for dogs and freeing airlines from having to accommodate a variety of emotional support animals. This decision was currently under intense debate at the posting of this blog.
Remembering Taz and Tweety
As a child, I had the privilege of caring for many pets, from rabbits (Fluffy, Snow and Night), to my beloved chihuahua (Muffin) and even a stray cat who I just called Kitty. They taught me a lot about responsibility and emotional intelligence, long before it was called that.
As a young adult and active student, I didn’t think that I could properly care for pets. Shortly after I moved into my first place, there was a random break-in that shook me at my core. The interior decorator that I was working with offered to earmark a puppy from her Chow litter. Three months later, I brought home my new best friend. His name was Taz and he was just a black ball of fur that I took everywhere with me until he got too big to hide. He was an incredible partner and protector.
A year later, I brought home Tweety, a beautiful Sun Conure bird who had an incredible command of the English language. They didn’t get along at first but later looked forward to being in each other’s company. Ironically, our first child was allergic to most animals with fur, dander and the mucous that causes him to flare up.
Nevertheless, we had a hamster named Nugget and two goldfish named Darwin and Prince. They kept our kids happy. We visit the zoo and other pet families as safely as we can because we believe that, every boy needs a dog or pet as a rite-of-passage!
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