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pet therapy
woof! woof, woof!
by robert a. melos

The other night I was watching Naked News, The Male Edition, (Yes, I said Naked News. It ain't Dan Rather. Thank God.), and there was a story on pet owners and stress levels. The report was on research done to show pet owners have less stress levels, presumably because then have pets in their lives. It also told of how pets can act as counselors in relationships, and are sometimes better to talk with than a significant other.

Now while I am currently a single gay male with no foreseeable Prince Charming in my immediate future, I do have a dog. My fluffy animal companion, Zeus, a purebred Chow. He's got the temper to prove it too. Anyway, while I don't have that mystical, perhaps mythic, relationship with a human significant other, I began to wonder just how my dog, albeit a very intelligent dog, could counsel me with a relationship should I ever get one?

I'm assuming any sex counseling is out, since the operation (him, not me). This leave me with interpersonal relationship stuff. Now Zeus, my furry little love, does not have a great track record with interpersonal relationship. He growls at almost everyone who comes to the house, barks at the mailman trying to intimidate him into leaving a Milk-Bone in the mailbox (which he often does), chases any animal that wanders into our yard, and basically act like he is in charge of the entire world. If I didn't know better I'd say he was possessed by George W. Bush.

So just what advice would my pooch give me, if I were to get a boyfriend? I'm sure it would be something along the lines of, "keep him away from my bowl, and nobody gets hurt." Or "You already have me, whaddya need that geek for?" Or "all right, but you take care of him and clean up after him!"

On the other hand, what would he tell me to do the first time the guy broke my heart? Hypothetically speaking of course, since I don't enter any relationship expecting to be devastated by lies, deceit and manipulations. So what does my doggie counselor tell me, when I catch Biff, it's a hypothetical name, with the mailman, and they don't invite me to join them?

I'm guessing it would be either "I told you so, now get rid of that fleabag of an excuse for a companion and take me for a walk," or "dump the boyfriend, but be nice to the mailman, he's got the Milk-Bone supply. In fact, start dating him. Now go, fetch."

Of course this is all hypothetical, since there is no relationship, and Zeus doesn't put into words his feelings about the things I do. No he communicates very well with a nudge or a nuzzle, or a compassionate paw, or a lick. Maybe there is something to this animal companion counseling? Plus, a box of Milk-Bones a week is much cheaper than fifty bucks to go lay on some stone faced doctor's couch spilling my guts while the doctor nods and asks "What do you think that means?"


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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adam kraemer
10.1.02 @ 11:36a

This might be why I don't own any pets; they can't tell me what they want or give me advice on what I want.

wendy p
10.1.02 @ 2:10p

OK, I'm officially scared of Naked News.. never heard of it, don't even want to know when it's on or who's network is sponsoring it. Yikes!

I'd have to say that for the most part, having a pet share your life with you is therapeutic. At least until the moment they get sick, then it's just like having kids only your employer is less likely to understand when you have to take them to the doctor or stay home with them to make sure they're ok.

My two little yappers always know just the right moment to jump in my lap or bring me a toy so we can play and forget about whatever it is that's making me unhappy.

sarah ficke
10.1.02 @ 2:11p

Pets also give you something outside of yourself to care about and help draw you out of contemplating your own misery that way.

adam kraemer
10.1.02 @ 2:26p

That's what I have TV for.

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