BLOG POST - Greg Rix, 26, teacher from West Sussex and Trustee at www.SEDSconnective.org
I sit here writing whilst my beloved is in an operating theatre, metal structures that should have assisted in his leg break to be removed.
He is my constant companion - kind, loving, judging only on the quality and quantity of treats lay before him. I long for the hours to tick by to the moment where he can lay across my chest, neck nuzzling my nose, demanding attention. I should perhaps at this point clarify; my beloved is my chinchilla, Milo.
Nevertheless, we must not overlook the importance of pets in our lives, despite some writing suggesting they are luxuries beyond a means tested income should supply.
They are not a luxury. They are a fundamental right to friendship, love, and family – wrapped up in snuffling wet noses, shedding on the sofa, and exasperated gasps as muddy paw prints once again appear on freshly pressed linen.
Milo is the embodiment of comfort for me, when I need extra time in bed, he doesn’t demand walkies, although he does demand chin scratches!
Moreover evidence suggests the positive effects of pets associated with wellbeing, motivation, and emotional regulation are far more significant than previously thought – although anyone with a fluffy companion could vouch for this!
Cats purr at a frequency that assists healing, horses are empathetic and assist in emotional regulation, my geckos can perform light pressure squeezes whilst perched atop my shoulder, and snakes – from experience – have amazingly perfect deep pressure, birds too can help with speech and language – I can assure you anyone upon seeing a parrot starts to produce vocalisations for them to mimic.
I should perhaps say I don’t have all these animal companions, I’m not a complete hoarder of animals! When we start to consider the feedback associated with symptomatic hypermobility or neurodivergence, being able to see external signals from our companions may allow us to make sense of our bodies even more. We can tell when our puppies are nervous, hot, or in need of a drink, but can we tell when we are?
Milo often gets fed the same time I am. This helps my routine and helps me control my food intake – nothing is worse than a sudden sugar crash! Likewise he can sense heat, and cold far greater than I can, and thus I can use him as an external prompt. My geckos too help with my timings, they come out and start chirping at night – which is my cue to sleep.
Our companions are just that, companions to help us, and to love us, maybe more so than we to them.