Carmel Magazine

Spring-Summer 2019

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Page 57 of 267

I n the last issue, Winnie and I sug- gested that "Love Me, Love My Dog" is old news. Today it's, "Love My Dog, Love Me!" For any faithful readers of this publication who thought we had gone too far, you may want to opt out of reading the following. For one cannot stroll the streets of Carmel, or any sprawling metropolis and not be struck by the number of dogs wearing vests, coats or other finery proclaiming their status as an Emotional Support Dog, Service Animal, or Therapy Dog. Winnie and I will not go into the factual ADA requirements for legal inclusion into each of these designations, except to note that they are less than definitive and open to personal interpretation. Nor will Winnie and I cast aspersions on the websites more than happy to sell all manner of "official credentials" to substantiate your claim to one of the above designations. That said, my wife had no such confusion as to where I fit into the above equation. Witnessing the emotional wreck Winifred had become during my absence for a couple of hours, and how needy she was upon my return, Barbara observed—only half in jest—that I had become Winnie's Emotional Support Human. I was amused. Until I realized OMG! It's true. I felt some comfort in the realization that I am not alone in this condition. Can there be any doubt that our dogs need us as much as we need them? Which may explain why millions of us have become our pooch's Emotional Support Human! Considering the somewhat arbitrary regulations for deter- mining whether your dog is an actual Emotional Support Dog, Service Animal, or Therapy Dog, when it comes to us being true Emotional Support Humans for our pooches, I think we need to be held to a considerably more definitive, higher standard. What criteria should we demand if we are to proclaim this esteemed position? And because proclaiming our stature as our pooch's Emotional Support Human goes to the very heart and soul of who we are, it is not something easily purchased on Amazon. (At least of this writing.) If in fact, millions of us have become co-dependents in our need for emotional support, then perhaps the criteria to attain Emotional Support Human status should be something along the lines of the traditional marriage vow. "For better, for worse." At the very least, we owe our pooch to be there in good times and bad. It's easy to support one another when all is bliss. It's how you treat your BFFF (Best Furry Friend Forever) when one or the other of you is having a bad hair or fur day. "For richer, for poorer." We've all seen people who lavish much wealth on their beloved dogs. And I do not doubt that their devotion goes deeper than any spending suggests. On the flip side, I've seen street people whose love for their furry companions is equally heartfelt. Wealth or lack thereof does not an Emotional Support Human make. "In sickness and in health." A big one, for sure. Beyond the question of having the funds to pay for our dog's health care, particularly in times of a medical crises, the issue is just as much about our willingness to offer all the compassion and TLC needed when our fur baby is ill. It's about the time and patience to just be there holding a paw or stroking a back. And only you can snuggle into their shivering bundle of fur and calm their fearful heart. "Till death do us part." Perhaps the biggest one when it comes to whether we rise to the level of Emotional Support Human. What would we be willing to do to keep our dogs happy, healthy and safe until it's time for one us to move on to whatever comes next? Not easy to be there for end of life decisions. We hear many stories of dogs offering emotional support to their humans up to the very end. And in some cases, for many days thereafter refusing to leave the side of their fallen human. If we are to rise to the level of Emotional Support Human, can we do any less for our beloved dogs? A best-selling author in a previous life, Mark Oman is now co- author with Winifred of "Life is Good. I'm a Dog… And You're Not!" available at Mark and Winnie live in Carmel with four-legged brother, Winston, and two-legged wife, Barbara. For more information, email DOG TALES M A R K O M A N We hear many stories of dogs offering emotional support to their humans up to the very end. Worse Than You Thought! 56 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 9

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