Who needs a therapist when you’ve got a cat?

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Lately I’ve been so busy that I’ve hardly had time to think, much less keep up with my blog. Between work and ongoing renovations at home, well… busy is a bit of an understatement. At times I’ve been completely overwhelmed.

But there’s a bright side. I haven’t spent a dime on therapy, anti-anxiety pills or any other medicine, for that matter. There’s no need for any of that. I have a cat.

No matter what’s going on, Eli knows how to make me laugh. Last night, he did it by “hunting” the ribbon I was using as a bookmark. This morning, he brightened my day by chasing a little scrap of paper across our new hardwood floors. It turned out his “toy” was a Chinese fortune that said: “When you begin to coast, you are on the downgrade.”

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Go figure…

When he’s not entertaining me, Eli’s a great listener. He lets me vent without interrupting. In fact, he doesn’t say a word and he always agrees. Unless I raise my voice. Then he bites me. What can I say? He hates angry voices.

Eli also helps me keep my stress in check at work. He makes sure that I get up to pay attention to him every so often. And once he’s had enough of that, he curls up at my feet to keep me company…

He always knows when I’m upset. He knows when I need space, and when I need comfort — and acts accordingly. He lets me cuddle him when I’m sad, and he doesn’t fuss when my tears soak his fur.

Technically, Eli isn’t an emotional support animal or a certified therapy animal. But he’s definitely my “therapy cat.” And I love him to pieces…

Inmates in Connecticut prison program benefit from ‘horsing around’

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Like most little girls, I loved horses and always wanted one of my own. Unlike most little girl, I was highly allergic to them. So I didn’t start riding until I was a teenager.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Since then I’ve ridden semi-competitively (as the captain of the Manhattanville College Equestrian Team), but mostly for fun. I’ve also volunteered as a “side walker” in  therapeutic horseback riding programs for physically and emotionally challenged kids. And in all honesty, that’s what I miss the most. There’s just something about seeing a kid’s face light up while he or she is riding that’s really, really cool.

Recently, I read about a different kind of therapeutic program that benefits people and horses. This one is based at a women’s prison in Niantic, Connecticut. Co-sponsored by the state Department of Agriculture, it allows the inmates to help care for horses that were confiscated during animal cruelty investigations.

“[The inmates] do everything from help feeding, cleaning out the stalls, moving them around from pen to pen,” Damian Doran, a Supervisor at the York Correctional Facility told a New Haven television station. “The animals have had hard lives, and in some ways the inmates can relate to that because they have had their own struggles, too,” he added.

The inmates learn about responsibility, learn skills they can use after they’ve been released. Most importantly, they learn (or relearn) what it’s like to care for another living creature.

The horses learn (or relearn) to trust people while waiting to be adopted.

Any way you look at it, everyone gets a second chance. And in my book, that’s pretty damned cool.

Forget ‘Obama Care’ – get a pet

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

While it is a noble goal, ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable healthcare is easier said than done. Whether the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature healthcare law, is the best – or even the only – option is strictly a matter of opinion.

On the other hand, research has determined – and nearly everyone who loves animals or has a pet agrees that pet ownership yields tremendous rewards. Over the years, well-publicized research has shown that owning companion animals – or simply interacting with them – lowers blood pressure, improves one’s mood, and reduces stress and anxiety. All of that aside, anyone who has contact with dogs, cats, and even horses, knows that simply being around them always makes a bad day better.

While dogs get most of the ink for their work as  service and therapy animals, cats are gaining recognition for their effectiveness as therapy animals, too.

As a former volunteer with two different therapeutic horseback riding programs, I can also say that the right program – and the right horse – can do wonders for children with physical, emotional and learning difficulties. Equine therapy is also said to benefit adults with similar issues, but I haven’t witnessed that myself.

Now it seems that in addition to the psychological and physical benefits associated with our interactions with domestic animals, there is a financial one, as well. In a recent opinion piece on foxnews.com, Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, cites a new study linking pet ownership with healthcare savings. Specifically, the study shows that pet owners make fewer trips to the doctor than those who don’t have animals, and that people who walk their dogs often are less likely to be significantly overweight than people who don’t have pets.

That’s awesome news, but to be honest it doesn’t really surprise me.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
Eli reading.

I got my first cat, Tiger, when I was 10 and had her for 17 years. After Tiger died at age 20, I got Heals (named after the former NHL goaltender Glenn Healy) and had her for 11 years. Now I’ve got Eli, who just turned 10 on New Years Day. I adopted him from the Fauquier SPCA when  I lived in Virginia and we’ve been together for almost eight years.

In addition to being In Brief Legal Writing Services official mascot, Eli is my best friend, confidant and therapist. Being the strong, silent type, he’s a great listener. He gives wonderful hugs. He doesn’t complain when I cry on his shoulder, even though he hates getting wet. He’s a great hunter. He provides unconditional love in exchange for a warm place to sleep, a clean litter box, access to our deck, and two meals per day (plus snacks). Sure he bites me every once in a while. But hey, nobody’s perfect.