So many things SEN parents have to deal with, emotions, physical difficulties, admin.
Which should I pick?
Then something small bounded into my life.
I knew! Pets!
Father of Pearl and I were both raised with dogs (with, NOT by).
I spent my childhood longing for a cat. Attempts to beguile neighbours cats into the house,and persuade my parents that they were stray were unsuccessful.
When I had moved out and a friend needed to rehome their cat I did not hesitate.
One marriage, several cats, house moves and two children later we had experienced.
Now I am phobic about fish. Can't stand them.
Don’t like looking at them in the supermarket.
Can’t eat in restaurants with ornamental fish tanks.
I say "am".
I mean was.
Eldest was obsessed with fish and wanted to be a marine biologist.
Two tanks and 5 years later through gradual desensitization no more phobia.
Was still secretly relieved when the last one died.
I know they are different but there were a fair few and they had jolly, short and happy lives I believe.
Turns out I can watch human dissection and see a dead body of a loved one but am unable to deal with handling a dead gerbil.
It’s SO dead.
After Pearl had been born we slowed down on animal acquisition, but someone at the kids' Primary School had very fertile stick insects.
Nearly everyone in Rab’s school year had a tank of them.
One evening my mum was babysitting and heard a crash.
She ignored it.
When we returned the cats had knocked off the tank and chewed the escapees up and spat them out.
That was the end of the stick insect experiment.
These are excellent sociable little animals.
When Rab was 5 he was diagnosed with anxiety and we bought them for therapeutic purposes.
“I’m going to call mine Happy and then when I’m upset I can go outside and feel Happy,” is one phrase I didn’t expect to hear.
And that brings me neatly onto death.
"Get pets so your children can learn to cope with death."
This is surely the most ridiculous piece of advice ever given and should be consigned to the scrap heap along with, “God only gives Special Children to Special Parents”.
Dealing with the death of a pet is horrible.
Horrible, particularly if the pet was a therapeutically named Guinea Pig who developed meningitis as a result of an eye infection.
It doesn’t make it easier to cope with the death of a loved one.
Everything dies, we know everyone dies.
Knowing this in no way aids the grieving process.
Now we have three cats.
One of these is Pearl’s.
We didn’t decide this, the cat did.
It keeps an eye on her, sleeps on her bed when she is out runs to her if she cries, and has made attempts to get on the taxi to school.
It is a cat with immaculate taste.
We also had one small dog, a Yorkie Poo.
A great comfort to Rab who struggles with sleep and night terrors, but is vastly comforted by small dog Herb.
He is such an asset to family life that we felt another one should come along soon to ensure there was no dog gap when the inevitable eventually occurs and to keep him company.
After an awful week when the Black Dog of depression came to sit with me, SEN and house moving stress seemed overwhelming we thought a bit of pup therapy was due.
And here she is.
She is hilarious, tiring, and happiness inducing and should probably be called serontin, but instead we have called her Tilly and she is just the tonic we needed.
Are you pet happy? Tell us how your animals have helped you on your special needs journey and share a picture, that is, after all, the finest use of the internet!