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Pet Therapy

by Laurie Lechlitner

Published: Friday, September 18, 2020

Classroom of Life

I don't think it's any mistake that dogs are deemed "Man's Best Friend." They are great companions to women as well. I think they bring out the best in us.

"I don't trust him," my mother remarked. "He doesn't like my dog."

To older people living alone, a dog can be much more than a companion. "Fee-Fee is a member of my family," stated Bart, age 91. "That poodle lets me know when someone's at the door. I can't always hear the doorbell. She also wakes me up each morning."

Of course, cats are also near and dear to our hearts. My cat Max used to sleep in my arms like a baby.

"I want a pet that's independent," said Deb, a single, career woman. "All I need is food, water and a litter box. My cat Tom sits in my lap when I'm watching television. But he's also fine when I'm out of town on a business trip. He has the run of the house."

Some children are not old enough to care for an animal. "My mom and dad say I can't take care of a dog or cat," Mikey told us. "Here's Bonny and Clyde," he added, pointing to a small goldfish bowl.

"How do you know which one is Bonny and which is Clyde?" I asked. The goldfish appeared exactly alike.

Mikey looked up at me with his big brown eyes. He wiggled his index finger so that I'd stoop down to his level. Whispering in my ear, he confided, "I don't know. But Dad says Bonny will have minnows someday."

I don't believe the fish were opposite sexes at all. Because Bonny never did have babies.

One afternoon, Mikey knocked at my door. He had Bonny and Clyde in a Ziploc filled with water. He also carried his small fishbowl.

"We're moving," he told me.

"I know. Your mother said you were going to Georgia."

He began to cry. "I can't take Bonny and Clyde. Dad wants to flush them down the toilet. Will you keep them for me?"

"Of course, I will."

Mikey was a brave boy. He handed me the Ziploc and fishbowl, never looking back. I didn't have the heart to write and tell him the fish croaked shortly after he left. They must have died of a broken heart.

Of course, there are some who prefer exotic pets, that are sometimes dangerous. Another of our neighborhood boys used to walk his boa constrictor. Actually, the snake did not walk, but draped itself around his neck.

One afternoon, the boy was walking alone. "What happened to your snake?" I asked.

"Pop made me get rid of it. I guess it was for the best. The snake tried to strangle me in my sleep."

"Did you kill it?"

"Absolutely not. That snake and I have been through a lot together. I gave it to a friend."

Then there are those who enjoy the small, hairy, sneaky, crawling-type pets. Weston named his ferret Milton.

"What do you like best about Milton?" I inquired, stepping away from the weaselly creature.

"He catches the rats in my attic."

Well, there you have it. People love their pets. And I think having a non-human companion can be very therapeutic. However, if you get a snake, make sure you never turn your back on it.

Laurie Lechlitner can be contacted by email at

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