When it comes to pets and family, some people see their furry friends as just pets; others as much-loved family members. Counsellor and devoted dog-person, Leigh Fraser-Gray understands just how precious pets and family can be …
As a human species, it may be the understatement of the century to suggest we have traversed immense terrain since 15,000 years ago when someone decided to let the dogs IN.
According to Britannica.com, evidence has been unearthed to suggest that all those centuries ago, around Central Asia, villagers started to slowly domesticate the canine lupas – possibly from local wild wolf packs – and those beloved furries of ours started their gradual but dogged – ha! – journey from the ‘Rugged Wilderness’ to the #BestSunnySpotintheHouse.
Personally I would like to HUG and high five that wily villager who woke one day and thought: “Yeah, dogs are great; domestication all the way!” (Or words or thoughts to that same effect).
Pets are People Too!
My own personal life revolves, and always has, around My Dog/s; and their associated comfort and care and presence.
(Disclaimer: Wikipedia, however, reminds us that domestication is an entirely different concept to that of TAMING. So for purposes of simplicity, this piece differentiates between the domesticated furry and the tamed wilder animals which some do claim as their own.)
My focus therefore is on the widely known domesticated creatures, academically identified as:
- (1) the commensals, adapted to the human environment (dogs, cats, fowls, some may include pigs, too);
- (2) prey animals originally sought as food sources (fowl, bovines and woolly beings etc);
and then, last but not least,
- (3) the larger animals used for draft and transport (horses, donkeys, camels etc).
For me, I am a decided Dog Person. But a nod and another high five to those who have willingly handed their hearts, wallets, cushions and/or general dwelling areas to their furry, feathered, scaled and/or hoofed Significant Other; I too share the vibe of loving these guys!
Why We See Pets as Family Members
And love them I genuinely believe we do.
So my theory goes, once we DO open that proverbial door in terms of access and care and generic dedication/slavery, our pets become our bona-fide (again, ha!) ‘Family Member’.
Which places them in a prime position of consideration when or if our lives change, face adversity and/or are altered in some significant way, even if this is temporary or permanent in nature.
This is turn, especially if our lives are now tumultuous or unpredictable, different or precarious, can increase our stress/distress levels as we worry and fret more and more about the impact on our Furry, Feathered, Scaled or Hoofed Family.
And when we DO lose them, as is highly likely in our lifespan as their life expectancy does tend to be less than ours – parrots and crocodilians being the obvious exception here – this can pose great sorrow, hardship and interruptions, as the Grief and Loss experience hits hard.
Pet Friendly Therapy
The solution? Pet friendly therapy.
You may choose your attending or nominated practitioner based on their opinion towards the ‘Furries as Family’.
Empathy for loss of our Furry Family or how our current adverse experiences impact on us and/or the furry beloveds, can also reduce stress in a session and aid a sense of acceptance and comfort throughout the therapeutic alliance.
In the interests of self-disclosure, I have experienced both loss of human life along with losing several canines to the Rainbow Bridge in my lifetime. The pain, from my own experience, was equitable as my furries had become my family and thus I grieved very deeply for their loss.
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) allows the therapist to legally, and sans any opposition, bring their trained assistance animal into the therapeutic environment.
Alternatively, therapeutic home visits for those homes where safety is assured for all parties involved, may allow for your own furries to be on hand to assist in talking about what is most upsetting or bothering you as we work together to validate emotions and identify solutions.
Wishing You Well,
Author: Leigh Fraser-Gray, B Soc Work, B Soc Welfare, Dip Human and Community Services, Voc Grad Dip FDR
Leigh Fraser-Gray is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, with many years of experience in working with people in crisis and/or with a trauma background. She is passionate about maximising resilience in her clients, drawing on solutions focused, strengths based approaches.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.