Written By: Katie Schipper
Pets Are A Lot Of Work
Animals, yay! Pets are one of the greatest little joys in this life. They become part of your family and are absolutely worth every vet-bill, clean up, and minor annoyance. Pets are the best.
Pets are also a lot of work. They aren’t just little toys. No, they’re living creatures that require attention, care, and money. Wanting the joy and companionship of a pet is normal, but should you get one fresh out of a treatment center for women? Should you get one right out of your halfway house? What are some factors to consider before you do get a pet?
Waiting For The Right Time
There are a lot of common recovery suggestions that don’t actually come from twelve-step literature. One of the most popular is to stay out of a relationship for your first year sober. Another is to wait the same amount of time to get a pet.
It doesn’t always make sense in the moment. These suggestions only reveal their importance in hindsight. That’s why they’re very often ignored. Our ingrained need to get what we want when we want it makes us stubbornly choose to jump into things. We often do whatever looks good in the moment, with little consideration for what the long-term outcome may be.
Things to Consider
First of all, consider what foundations you have in your life. If you’re newly sober, do you have a steady job that allows you to be self-sufficient? If the answer is no, then you can’t afford a pet. If it’s yes, then ask yourself if you have a routine that allows you to focus on the things you need each day. These are things like meetings, working with a sponsor, attending any therapy you might do, going to work, or going to school. If you have a routine, and there’s time in it for a pet, then it becomes a matter of practicality.
We’re capable of doing all the things that so-called normal people do. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have pets that we love and care for. There’s nothing that says we aren’t responsible enough for a pet. In fact, the woman who’s active in recovery is often an example of responsibility!
At the risk of over-therapizing the issue, it’s worth considering if you’re buying a pet to fill some void, or offer a temporary fix to a bigger problem. The reality with every addict and alcoholic is that we’re spiritually sick. We frequently look to things outside of ourselves for fulfillment. Animals are without defense and it’s unfair to make them yet another victim of our own need to feel better.
Ideally, like with most major life changes, you’ll give yourself ample time to work on you before getting a pet. Remember, there’s no rush! Waiting to make such a large decision makes it that much more beautiful when you do get a pet. That way, you enter pet ownership out of love, not loneliness. You know that you have the means and wherewithal to care for another living creature.