Working On Us – pets.

It’s week #11 of Beckie’s mental health prompts’ series Working On Us at

Beckie’s Mental Mess

and I’m joining in. The topic for this week is pet therapy and emotional support animals.

  Prompt #1 Questions:

 

  1. Do you own a pet for emotional support and/or service/therapy? – Yes, but it’s not strictly speaking an emotional support animal. I have a cat called Misha, he’s been with me since he was a few months old, and he is of tremendous support to me.
  2. Is your pet a certified therapy animal? – No. As much as Misha is helpful for me, he’s definitely not a fit whatsoever to be an emotional support animal formally. If you’d spend even just a day observing him closely you’d rather say it’s him who needs emotional support. Misha is an anxious loner who is scared of touch and closeness, and chronically stressed about everything, afraid of every noise and a more sudden movement. Strangers and travelling scare him as well, he doesn’t do changes and other cats. He is a well-bred aristocrat with loads of noble ancestors but looking solely at his behaviours and reactions one would think he must have spent years on the streets or in a shelter in the middle of a war zone. I really don’t know why he is like this, apart from that I’ve heard that just as much as parents can “infect” their children with anxiety if they are very anxious, same applies to pet owners. My Mum says he’s practically the worst fit for me, also because he only seems to tolerate eye contact fully well. Yet, despite our ups and downs, we get along really well. I have the added benefit that I know I am not alone with my anxieties and fears, weird reactions to stuff and avoidance. I know he understands me, although at the same time he is the only being in the world in whose company I would be happy to be ALL the time, but he so often prefers to be alone, and sometimes it’s hard to not take it personally. I have to often prioritise his needs when he needs his solitude or has a bad anxiety day and is all jittery and jumpy, but I know he understands how important he and his support is to me and that when he recuperates he’ll give me his attention and support and I’ll be happy to give him the same in return if he wants. I’ve heard so many people saying he is selfish, but in fact, taking everything into consideration, I think he is of an extremely noble and generous nature, but also a very difficult and complex character. I guess it’s good he’s not a human, he’s already enough of a complexity.
  3. What kind of pet do you own? – Misha is a Russian blue tsar, he’s over 3 and a half years old. We also have a mixed-breed dog called Jocky, who sometimes works therapeutically for me as well, even though I don’t have usually as much of a connection with dogs as I do with felines. Jocky is the lively, happy type, he’s mostly Zofijka’s, her cure for loneliness and lack of friendships, but my family says he must like me in some special way because he’s always very engaging with me. I mean, in a bit of a different way than with the rest of us. Especially when I feel low, I have a suspicion he really is able to feel when I’m depressed. And then he is so very funny and jumps at me and all and wants to play with me, and he always wins in the end because I can’t not laugh. We also have aquarium fish. I’ve heard people saying having aquarium fish is very calming and therapeutic because it calms them down to be able to look at them swimming, but since I can’t see them, they might as well not exist to me.
  4. Do you believe that support animals truly assist those in need? – Sure they do! I am not sure what to think about that animals can respond to our emotions, I think it depends in a way on an individual animal, but in any case, just having a pet that you love, whatever that animal does to make you feel better, can sometimes truly help. And there are trained service animals who help and assist people and I think that is unquestionable that they do and to a huge degree.
  5. Do you believe that any animal can be a therapy/support pet? – I think it really depends. On a specific animal, how engaging and interactive it is, but also on the human who is on the receiving end and is supposed to get some help from that animal. If you are sceptical, I don’t think it will help, and if you are scared of horses for example, it’s doubtful you’ll benefit from hipotherapy, unless you want to overcome your fear. It’s slightly hard for me to imagine how those less interactive animals (like the fish I mentioned for example) can support people, but I guess if you really like fish and are attached to your fish, it’s possible. I think it’s primarily the connection and love between you and your pet that is healing and therapeutic, not some unusual properties of the animal itself.

Prompt #2 Narrative:

Describe how your pet is of support to you? EXAMPLE: Helps with anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc… (And, please… Share their name and a photo) if you desire.

Misha – despite being a bundle of nerves himself most of the time – has a very calming effect on me. He is my best friend. I spend a lot of my time alone, which I am most of the time happy about but having Misha gives me some company and on those days when I do feel lonely, I feel less lonely because I have him. He helps me with anxiety. Like I said, I know he is anxious himself and that sort of adds to the connection between us. We understand each other on this front, I know I am not alone with what I feel, because a lot of the time, when I have a bad anxiety day, he does too. I call him my charger because he always helps me to recharge after a lot of socialising. Misha is very quiet like most of cats, not even particularly vocal, but he helps me with what I call silence anxiety (basically when there’s complete silence and my brain doesn’t get enough sensory stimuli, it’s really hard to explain and understand), even if Misha doesn’t make the slightest sound his presence can sometimes make it go away completely. When I feel depressed, he keeps me company and gives some purpose to my existence. He makes me feel useful because he needs support too. There are days when he does want a proper, long, relaxing cuddle, and he always comes for it to me, and he comes to me in search of refuge when suddenly there are lots of shouty strangers downstairs, smoking and listening to loud music, or stranger kids running around the house and wanting to hold him and calling him a she. It’s funny by the way how he’s always able to understand that an invasion of human beings is about to happen and run away to my room just in time, and it’s interesting how he doesn’t mind some people coming over to us and is happy to stay downstairs with them. He is my sleeping pill. We’ve established a routine on most of the nights (and Misha loves his rituals and routines) that he sleeps in my room at night, in his bed, and it really helps me to fall asleep when I have him close. Or if I can’t sleep, it’s even better, because I can pet Misha. My Swedish teacher encouraged me once that I should talk to Misha in other languages, because that’s what he did with his cats and they understand. And that’s what I do now. It’s cool because he seems to understand me no less than in Polish, while the humans don’t get a word. So I can talk to him about things that I wouldn’t talk about to people, that I don’t feel like talking with people, or that I don’t have anyone to talk to about. Misha doesn’t purr very loudly, I’ve read somewhere that purring isn’t only a signal of pleasure for a cat, but a self-soothing mechanism first and foremost. And when he does purr, it sounds more like he’s purring to himself. I’ve also learnt that a cat can purr when anxious or in pain and that would be true for Misha I think. But when he purrs for himself, I love to eavesdrop and get some of it for myself. I like to lie near him and listen to all his inner sounds – his purrs, his breath, his tummy gurgling, his heartbeat, every Mish sound is like a music for me and it is very soothing. – Playing with him always makes me happy. And just his presence changes the atmosphere in the room where he is. Basically, after those 3 years with Misha, I can’t imagine my life without him anymore. I guess Misha is like a drug for me. When I’m away for a few days, like on holidays or something, by the time I come back home to Misha I have full-blown withdrawal syndrome.

Here’s a pic of Misha, I don’t even know how presentable Misha is on it and don’t remember what he looks like here, but this photo’s been lying in my Dropbox so I believe I must have used it somewhere earlier, and I don’t think we’ve made many new photos lately, so I hope this one is good.

Misha standing alone

Other than Misha, I’ve also had some experience with hipotherapy. I’m currently having a hiatus (which will likely be over in September), but I used to horse ride regularly. I’ve written a fair few posts on my complicated relationship with riding and how it all started but to give you an idea, the very first time I started riding was at the boarding school for the blind when I was 5 and in the nursery. I didn’t like it, I was scared of it, probably because of my issues with balance, and any time I was supposed to ride I was sick. That stopped when I went to primary, because since then only those with multiple disabilities could do hipotherapy and it turned out I had allergy to horses, so I was happy with it. The when I was in what we call integration school at the age of 10 my Mum read an article on the benefits of hipotherapy and she felt like I could benefit a lot from it, especially emotionaly, and she found a stud and signed me up for hipotherapy there. All without my knowledge. I guess she didn’t even know how scared I was. But after the first time I rode there I suddenly discovered that I love horses and I love riding and it is amazing! I’ve been riding there until now with some longer breaks in between, still with the same instructor, and, until last year, always on the same horse. Sadly, last year, my faithful horse – Czardasz aka Łoś – died of old age.

At some point my instructor suggested to me that we could do more actual riding and less hipotherapy. That is, the stud where I am riding is exclusively for the disabled, and most of the people riding there have severe cerebral palsy or similar things, and they can’t really ride. I have some additional stuff apart from my blindness, like my shitty balance but it’s definitely not quite as severe a thing so overall I was able to ride and do much more on horseback. So I agreed and since then we’re doing what’s apparently called horse riding with elements of hipotherapy. 😀 My instructor is both a hipotherapist and a riding instructor, and a keen rider herself, but she is also a doctor – a neurologist. – So, apart from having fun riding, I have conversations about the brain with her and it’s thanks to her that I realised that had I been sighted I’d like to be a neurosurgeon.

I find horse riding very therapeutic. Very helpful with releasing the stress, tensions, all that stuff. Makes you feel free. You can’t ride while you’re tense so you naturally have to relax. Which can take for me just about the whole 45 minutes to fully relax my muscles at times, but oh well, it’s worth trying, isn’t it? It’s incredible how you bond with a horse while riding, especially if, like me, you don’t really change horses a lot, so you can get to know 1-2 horses really well, get to know your horse’s personality, the way of walking, what they react to and so on. My horse – my first one, the one who died last year – was really good and patient with me. He always felt when I was anxious, he seemed to understand me and I usually understood him too. He was very, very big and very, very phlegmatic. He once fell asleep while walking and tripped and I fell off of him, that’s how phlegmatic he was. 😀 We got along really well, although sometimes his size scared me and he wasn’t easy to ride because he was very demanding and I needed to work real hard to make him feel anything from my movements, since he was so much bigger than me. 😀

My current horse is a bit of a nervous type, and very receptive. I am not quite as bonded with him primarily because I haven’t ridden much on him, but I like him a lot.

I usually feel really euphoric for a while after hipotherapy, you know, endorphines kicking in and all that. But also, I said I have a complicated relationship with riding, because I do. While I love it so much, at the same time it’s still scary for me. Not that type of scary as when I was a kid, but it is scary. I can’t even exactly tell you why. I am scared that something awful will happen when I’ll be riding, I once had a panic attack while riding, and that I have poor balance doesn’t help and doesn’t make me feel safer on horseback. I know I go through the same fear every time I am about to ride, and I know that 9 times out of 10 everything will be fine, and I am willing to take the challenge, and my willingness to ride is (usually) stronger than the fear, but the fear is just there no matter what. Sometimes it still makes me feel sick and like I won’t do it this time. Things would be much easier if I didn’t have that fear, and I think I’d be able to do more and in less time.

Just like with Misha who makes an impression of not fitting for an emotional support animal, same applies to my horse riding, it’s a bit paradoxical that I ride, because technically I don’t have in abundance all that stuff that you need to be a good rider. My balance is screwed up, my sensory integration is screwed up  and my coordination is screwed up. It makes things tricky. But at least thanks to riding I can improve them as much as it’s possible. But I think overall, taking everything into account, I am a pretty decent rider anyway, and I used to take part in local, small competitions and scored high which I am proud of.

Advertisements

How could I know?!

Hhrrru? 😻

Misha here. Does anyone else out there like salt?… Well, as you’ve probably gathered, I do. But now I have bittersweet associations with salt. I know lots of foods are salted, but today I got to taste salt on its own. And the peeps are having a go at me because of that. I feel very hurt today because of that.

I tried to be the best Mish I could possibly be in the morning, and purr very loudly, and I was in a very good mood. Then, my peeps disappeared somewhere for hours and I was left on my own. I was very bored, and not particularly sleepy, and just wanted to do something. I could tell there was something different in the kitchen. It was on the kitchen table. I came closer to see what was different. And it was a little bowl. A bit like the ones I eat from. But the thing that was in it didn’t smell very yummy and looked kinda weird. I climbed on the table (good that my human Daddy wasn’t around) I was just so very intrigued what it is) and I dipped my paw in it. They were some weird, tiny, white grains, that felt very similar to the gravel in my loo? “Did they move my loo to the kitchen? Why? Why didn’t they tell me earlier?”, I was wondering, very surprised and a bit worried. But then I brightened up a lot. It would be actually much better to have the loo in the kitchen. I had my loo in the peeps’ bathroom and sometimes they still forget that I am here and too have physical needs from time to time and can’t open the doors because they didn’t feel like it was necessary to teach me, and they sometimes just close the door to the loo after they go out, egoists! And our kitchen is open plan, so no one can close it from me. This new loo looked just a little bit weird. They didn’t let me to jump on the tables and now they even let me poop and pee there, can you imagine this?! Yeah, it was hard to comprehend for me too… And it didn’t quite allow for much privacy, it was just a bowl, and quite a small one. Well, if they want so… It actually felt like a bit of an adventure to me, and I decided to test how it would work for me before they come home, felt like a good opportunity. I started to kneat the gravel with my paws, and the bowl turned out way too small for my needs. Well, small I might be, but I’m not that small – I thought. – The gravel started to spill out on to the table. Next time they’ll know I need something bigger.It was really hard to find a suitable place to pee in at such a small space, so I was growing a little bit impatient. I was also very intrigued about the whole thing. I liked the texture under my paws, and the nice sounds it was making. I liked this new gravel very much! Finally, feeling more and more in need of relieving myself, I pressed on the bowl with one of my paws more strongly, and suddenly it danced around on the table and everything, just everything spilled out on the table. Oh well, at least that’ll learn my peeps something about my size, I can’t do my thing in a kitten’s loo. I was a bit worried because, honestly, that didn’t really look like something my peeps would approve of, but now I needed to pee really badly. Now with all of the gravel being out, I could do it easily. Uh oh! What a mess! Mummy’s certainly not going to like it. I covered up my wee neatly, the least I could do, and jumped off quickly and went to the living room to clean myself in peace and quiet. As I went through the house, I could feel that the gravel was still on my paws and making crunching noises, and it was all over the floor. I laid on my personal pouf. I started off my cleaning routine, and when I was licking my paws, I noticed that they taste really nicely. I licked that yummy taste off. And then after I cleaned myself thoroughly I quietly fell asleep.

I could hear the peeps coming back so I already went in to the hall to welcome them and calm them down as effectively as possible before they could potentially get mad at me – something was telling me I didn’t do the right thing with that loo thing. – “Hey Misha!” – Mum called –
“Oh, you’re waiting for us, you’re so sweet!”. She came into the house and then to the kitchen, and her tone of voice changed immediately and she wasn’t nice at all anymore. She cried: “Oh no! What have you done, you idiot?!”. Ehh, I knew something was wrong, but what? So Zofijka and Mila came in to see what was going on and they were both gasping in horror and screaming.

From their chaotic talk, I learned that that “gravel” was salt! And that Mum put it on the table, but she said she’ll never do this again, because Misha is so stupid. But, I ask you, how could I know it was salt?! I don’t have much to do with salt in my life, I never cared how salt looks like. I just wanted to pee and there was such a nice place to do that, so I did! I feel so very hurt. They all say I am stupid and messy. I know well that neither of those things is true, because I am very very clever, and I am not messy at all, even they always say it –
“Misha is so clean! He never damages anything, even if he is curious! He’s so gentle and careful with everything!”. – Because I am! And now, just one incident happened, and I am suddenly stupid and messy Misha and the worst Misha in the world. They are the most malicious and self-centered creatures in the world! All humans are so grossly self-centered, they can only and always see things their way. They won’t even try to see it how I see it, because Misha is just stupid and messy. And Zofijka calls me names. She calls me an idiot, and “the salt king”, and constantly makes allusions about salt when I am around, or tells me that I should work in a salt mine and such. It’s so damn annoying. You can’t make even one mistake that they wouldn’t remind you about all the time.

Well, I think I’ll just go to sleep and hope that today will be somewhat better.

How was your day today, pets and peeps? What do you do to comfort yourselves when someone hurts you?

Mishpurrs. 💜 💚 💙

Sad Misha

Everyone’s coming and going, but I can’t. :(

Hhrrru? 😻

It’s Misha and I’m sad. I like being alone, but not lonely. And in last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling lonely a lot. I so hope it will end soon, or that I will be able to have some adventures too. The peeps are having them all the time! Everyone’s coming and going somewhere all the time. Last week, I haven’t seen Zofijka almost at all. And then suddenly everyone was gone, I only saw Olek a few times and he gave me some food, but only very little, not as much as Mum or Mila gives me, I guess he doesn’t know how much I eat. I was so terribly bored. Then they came back – that is Mum, Dad and Mila – and were very happy to see me but the next day when I woke up Mum and Dad weren’t there again, so I guess it was just pretended. I hate lying people. I never lie! It’s only people that do it, and that’s why, while I love my peeps, I also think humans are the worst and strangest species in the world. I wish they were felines like me, at least they wouldn’t be so cocky all the time. But I was a brave Misha and I didn’t cry, and at least then Mila was with me so I spent a lot of time with her, and I had a lot of treats. But I felt very sad and a bit rejected anyway, because they could go anywhere they wanted and I can’t even leave the house for a minute because then there’s one big drama. The next day Zofijka came, but this week still they are almost constantly out of the house. I guess that’s what they call holidays. So why can’t I have my holidays too? I really hope those holidays will end soon, or that they will take me at least on the terrace so I can smell the fresh air. I love the smell of fresh air, do you? And I love the smell of flowers. I only dislike the smell of other cats, and sometimes I can feel it when they do let me out for a little while.

Have you been on holidays, pets and peeps? Or if you pets aren’t going anywhere like me, how do you deal with it? Are you sad about it or is it normal for you and you don’t care, or perhaps you even like it this way? What do you do when your peeps leave you?

It’s so very sunny today, I would really like to go out. Maybe if I’ll go for a walk around the house and cry long enough at ever window I’ll piss them off enough to let me out. Mum and Dad have just come back from wherever they were. I’ve heard that even Jocky decided to go on holidays and ran away. (sigh) The world is so unfair! Just wait until the Feline Era comes!

Mishpurrs. 🙂

Misha 💜 💚 💙

A day of sleep.

Hhrrru? 😻

How are you pets and peeps doing? 🙂 Did you sleep well last night, whenever it was for you? I did, very well. I slept on Mila’s bed. I was very tired before going to sleep, I played a lot with a rubber band, running with it around the house and playing with peeps. I slept for many hours and woke up when already some of the peeps were up and having their breakfast. I had mine too. But I didn’t eat much today. I haven’t been feeling too well recently. That’s of course not a reason for me not to eat, but it is for my peeps. They’ve been very worried because I get sick a lot and throw up almost everything that I eat, even my Mish food and chicken breasts. But what can I do about it? It’s not my fault I guess, is it? SO why do they punish me for this?! They give me very little food and say that there are no treats at all, so I am wondering whether it’s true and they’re too lazy to drag all of their four legs out of the house and get me some or if they just don’t want to give them to me. Really, I should think about learning how to open the cupboards years ago, then I would know what the truth is, but I’m afraid I’m too old to master it now. But I also didn’t eat much today for another reason as well. It’s been a quiet day and all the peeps have been out for a large part of the day, so I just slept it through. It was very pleasant. I had so many beautiful dreams, with lots of chicken breasts, and Mish snacks, cans of tuna, Mish ice cream, kefir and all, everything smelled so heavenly! Just shows how obsessed with food I am, but I’m too obsessed to even care, I love my obsession, especially that, so far, it doesn’t even make me fat. And just dreaming of food will never make you fat, so that’s even better. I love such long, quiet days, when I can just go to sleep somewhere and sleep through long hours, just waking up for a second once in a long while to stretch or turn to the other side. Wonder what I’m gonna do at night, but if it’ll be boring and not much interesting food in sight, I can always go back to sleep.

So, how did you sleep last night? Any cool dreams? Let me know. 🙂

Misha 💜 💚 💙

Question of the day.

Hi people. 🙂

Here’s my question for you:

What was the name of your first pet?

My answer:

Hm… It’s kinda difficult to think what my first pet actually was. As I’ve written some time earlier this year, my whole life we’ve always had lots of animals around. I guess there never was a time that we wouldn’t have aquarium fishes for example, though those have never had names. The first dog I remember we had when I was a very little child was called Ugryź (which means Bite), he was a rotweiler and was really protective of us but not really quite as aggressive as his name would suggest, not as far as I know. At the same time we also had two other dogs that were theoretically my uncle’s, one was named Mona, and the other was Lisa, and they were both mad and scary and everyone was scared of them. But I didn’t have any special bond with Ugryź,, even though I liked him, and of course definitely not with Mona and Lisa. The first dog we had that I actually really had some bond with was Figa (Fig), but I also don’t know if I’d call her specifically my pet. She lived on the backyard, where my immediate family, as well as my grandparents and Mum’s sisters with her families lived, so Figa was all of our families’ dog, and at that time I was mostly at the boarding school so didn’t hang out with her very very much. The first pet that lived with us in the house was Kiki – he was a mixed-bred cat whom our grandma got from one of her clients who couldn’t keep him anymore, so my Mum took him. Kiki was a lovely and loyal cat, but I don’t even remember much of him, other than he liked to sleep at my Dad’s feet, even though my Dad hated him, and that he was very much afraid of the outside world, even looking out of the window was scary for him, and that I closed him on the terrace for the whole night and there was snow there, it wasn’t on purpose of course. 😀 I can also remember Zofijka dancing around the kitchen with Kiki in her arms, holding him by the neck. 😀 And that would be about everything. He was nice, but I wasn’t bonded with him at all, and was mostly at school when he was with us. So, my first proper pet, that I can call mine, even though there have been pets in my life all the time, is Misha. And I am so very happy I have him. 🙂

How about your first pet? 🙂

What’s up pets and peeps it’s MISHA!!!

Hhrrru?! 😻

How are you pets and peeps doing? It’s Misha and I just woke up from a long, long nap and am full of beans and very energetic. I probably won’t write much ’cause there are so many other things to do and my paws itch for a good run but just wanted to tell you that I am very happy because Zofijka’s just come back from her holidays! She went away for a week, and today she came back and at least something is going on in this house, it was like a graveyard without her and I was just sleeping and sleeping. The sad thing is that she doesn’t seem to be very interested in me. Mila says that she just has a lot of things to do and a lot of things to catch up on but I am worried that now she likes that other cat – Flocky – more than me. Flocky is their aunt’s cat and he’s also a Russian blue and apparently he’s my relative or something, but I’ve never met him. And Zofijka has been talking about him a lot. It drives me crazy. I just hope she’ll soon forget about him. And I am also a bit sad because she says she’ll be going away in two weeks again. But she’s very happy about it so maybe I should be happy too. After all, it can be really good too when Zofijka is not around. You can relax properly. Sleep more. Be less paranoid that someone’s lurking there waiting for you to come closer just to scoop you up and get into her noisy room and squeal “Miiiisha cuuute Miiisha!” in your ears. Oh yeah and there’s much less noise which is good, but, like I said, not for too long, as it starts feeling odd. I guess the peeps felt a bit odd too.

Has something nice happened to you this week? Any plans for the weekend? Are you gonna do something interesting with your peep(s), or with your pet(s) if you’re a peep? 🙂

Off to have a race with Zofijka.

Mishpurrs.

Misha 💜 💙 💚

Question of the day.

Hey hey people! 🙂

My question for you today is the following:

What was the first major purchase you made with your own money?

My answer:

Misha! Mum helped me a bit but I paid most so, at least in practical terms, I’m his owner. I’ve never regretted that purchase, obviously, and generally, I think it was the best one in my life.

How about you? 🙂