Today we added a four year old toy Fox Terrier to the mix of animals on our little farm. Her name is Peppermint, and she is my emotional support animal, she is registered as such.
My wife and I have been talking about getting an ESA for me for a while, to help me go out in public without her. I have extreme social anxiety on top of everything else and going somewhere alone just didn’t happen. My social anxiety was actually one of the reasons that I began to see a therapist in the first place. So, after much debate and a lot of searching we found this little gal.
The minute I saw her, I feel in love. She’s compact and that makes taking her everywhere with me easier. It also means I won’t spend $100 a month in food for a chow hound either.
After a busy day of running errands and paying bills my wife, who has fibro, wanted to stay in the truck while I ran inside the store and picked up the last of the items on our list. I haven’t had the chance to order all of Peppermint’s credentials and get her a ‘working vest’ so I was a bit nervous about taking her in the store with me. I had her registration on my phone though and was prepared in the event that someone complained.
As we walked through the store I couldn’t believe the amount of dirty looks and angry glares that I got from people. At one point I was almost on the verge of running out of the store in tears. Peppermint was supposed to help me be more independent, not cause me anxiety. I was fighting the urge to cry when a woman came up to my son and I and asked if Peppermint was his dog. I told her that she was actually mine, and was my ESA. She told me that her son, who had just come back from Iraq has one as well, and it had really helped him. She complimented Peppermint, and we talked for a few moments before going our separate ways.
It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. The glares from other people didn’t bother me as much, because I knew they didn’t understand what this tiny 5 pound dog was to me.
She is my freedom, as funny as that sounds, she is. Peppermint will allow me to be more independent and to go places by myself that I couldn’t go before without extreme anxiety or someone with me.
Even though my first outing with her was upsetting to start with, one person’s kind words helped me push past the fears I had of trouble because of my ESA.
I know the lady probably didn’t even realize what a huge difference she made to me, but I am grateful for her.
If you see someone with an animal where animals usually aren’t, please don’t scowl at the owner, that animal may be their lifeline like Peppermint is to me.