Let’s go through a little logical exercise, shall we? Dogs are considered man’s best friend. Best friends (real best friends —not the people you hang out with casually in bars) are good listeners. Dogs and cats are both good listeners. Nearly 90% of a therapist’s job is listening. Therefore it is not that big of a logical leap to understand why so many pet owners begin treating their cat or dog as if they are a therapist. Do you fall into this category? Let’s find out:
How to Tell If Your Pet is Really Your Therapist
You take out your aggression and frustration by running/walking with your dog. Whenever you have a rough day at work, or get a mean email from that one person who just gets under your skin, the first thing you do is grab the leash and head out with your pup in tow. Gym treadmills aren’t going to satisfy THIS level of frustration; instead you want to be with your best friend in the great outdoors, not surrounded by blasting AC and iron-pumping gym rats. Nothing else will suit you, except some necessary one-on-one time with the pal you trust the most.
You talk to your dog when you are out together. Not just light-and-trite details, you process everything you see, and then end up discussing your *gasp* feelings. Walks begin as casual chats and observations, but quickly turn into you gushing about your hopes and fears —whatever else is most heavily present on your mind.
Example: “Oh gosh Rover, did you see that big squirrel run up that tree, did you? He was so fast! Yes he was! Running so fast away from his problems. I feel like I am doing that with the Primerica guy who keeps calling me. You know, I wish they just wouldn’t…” and so on.
You take things your pet does as a sign or as guidance for your life. In these moments where you are pouring your heart out to your cat, while digging your way through that carton of ice cream, and he lays down and starts snoozing away; you take this as a cosmic signal.
Example: “That’s right! I need to just calm down and rest, not get so freaked out and stressed out about my job. My boss doesn’t hate me. If I just relax and stop worrying, I won’t make petty little mistakes in the future. Thank you for showing me that, Cupcake-Kitty-Boots!”
Of if your dog happens to growl when you pick up your phone and see that she has texted, and you instantly have an internal battle “So wait, am I not supposed to text her back? Is there something intrinsically about her Captain Doggovich knows that I don’t?” Your pet might actually be your therapist if you rely on them for important decisions and perspective guidance.
Things just don’t feel right unless you’ve had a chance to debrief with your dog. Married men say things like “I need to discuss that with my wife” before they sign the lease on a new car, or take a job that means driving an hour longer every day. But YOU say things like “I am going to have to get back to you on that; need to run it past my financial advisor.” (But you really mean tonight you and Pug-asaurus Rex are going to weigh the options together over a bowl of nachos. And maybe football. Maybe. You’ll see where the night goes.) Making big decisions like moving some place new, taking the relationship to the next level, going home for Christmas? ALL these ideas must be expressed to the cat, and shared with the dog. Otherwise it is almost like they aren’t even real.
Nobody “gets” you the way they do. Not even your childhood friend, significant other, or MOTHER understands you the way that little fur-ball does. The quiet support, comfort-purring on your lap, nuzzle of your hand after that tough email. It’s almost like they know! Which is precisely why there will never be a need for a human therapist in your life; you have all the support, understanding and guidance you need!