When you lose someone you love, it can feel like your entire world has been turned upside down. The days run together and feel as though they last a lifetime. Things that were once important no longer matter. Activities that once brought you joy feel like a painful reminder of better times.
When it comes to grief, they say time heals all wounds. However, the time it takes to move past something can be a struggle rife with heartache. While the path will still be challenging, getting an ESA dog can help you during your bereavement.
What is an ESA Dog?
An ESA dog is a dog that serves as an Emotional Support Animal. An Emotional Support Animal is an animal that offers support and companionship to someone who is struggling with mental illness or prolonged mental or emotional duress. For example, someone with autism, anxiety, depression or PTSD could benefit from an ESA. As the death of a loved one is an extreme stressor and often leads to other mental illnesses, this situation also makes one eligible for an ESA.
While any animal can serve as an ESA, dogs have proven themselves over the years as a favored companion to humans and other animals. Their capacity for unconditional love and sensitivity to emotions make them the number one choice for people experiencing the long, winding road of grief.
Benefits of ESA Dogs
An ESA dog can provide you with comfort, support, and a social connection when interpersonal communication feels like too much. Having an ESA dog also helps rebuild your sense of responsibility and often gives you a reason to get out of bed on the hard days. Spending time with an animal can lower stress levels, and reduce feelings of anxiety and isolation.
ESA dogs are allowed to stay with you, even if your rental property has an anti-pet rule. They can also accompany you on an airplane as long as they fit the sizing restrictions as mandated by the airline. Unlike service animals, which are specially trained to assist with a particular ailment, your ESA dog is not allowed in restaurants and other public areas that do not allow pets.
Registering an ESA Dog
To get an ESA dog, you require a recommendation from a medical professional to indicate that you will benefit from this form of therapy. Then, you can either purchase a dog or adopt one from a rescue shelter. If you already have a dog, you can register them.
When you have your recommendation, you must apply to get an ESA letter. Emotional support animal letters act as proof of your dog’s status as an ESA. This can help you avoid conflict regarding the handling of your animal. The letter will indicate that you received a recommendation from a medical professional and that your case has been reviewed and approved.
What Breed is Best?
You can choose any breed of dog you want to act as your ESA. However, certain breeds have traits that may or may not appeal to you as an ESA. For example, small dogs are easy to get around and allowed in more areas than larger breeds. Corgis, beagles, pugs, and spaniels make small, lovable, loyal companions that fit on your lap. Larger breeds, like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, are loyal, friendly, protective, and are guaranteed to force you to be active and engaged.
Choosing to adopt a dog may mean that you get a mixed breed rather than a purebred. However, the feeling of taking in another living creature who is also going through a really hard time can forge a strong bond and make you feel great.
Bringing an ESA dog home will never replace the feelings you had for your lost loved one. However, their company can help make your journey a little less lonely.