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 You’re an emotional support animal, a term pushing animal activists to ask, “Am I okay with a dog pooping in the airport concourse?” Maybe you’ve been trained. Maybe someone printed off an official-looking paper from the Internet to smuggle you wherever they want. Maybe you’re a medicated, no-good drifter animal sneaking across the border and selling cocaine to fifth graders. Well… probably not the last one.
 But you have a history too. Some human took you in, promising a life of ease and luxury—free food, a bed to sleep in, a well-to-do neighborhood with porky squirrels and an inviting mud hole. All you had to do was listen to someone’s problems and nod knowingly and nonjudgmentally, like a spouse or someone being mugged.
 Soon, however, you learned the trials of unconditional love—being shoved in a box and crammed under an airplane seat, being pet by someone with hands like limp fish, being used as a pillow, being used as a conversation starter, being used to dry off someone’s hands when they couldn’t find a towel.  
 You soon understood love isn’t some puppy-dog, frolicking-in-the-sprinklers daydream. It’s showing up. It’s being there when the peanut butter runs out. It’s comforting your human through sad movies, happy movies, Dateline, the six o’clock news, and NyQuil commercials. You might as well be a box of Kleenex but that doesn’t matter.  
 Remember, this is a life given to you, not one you chose. Like God, someone picked you out of a pound and said, “I choose you to be my bitch.” It is a life of duty, a military life, if soldiers had to listen to some terrorist tell them about their day at the office or their back problems. 
 People don’t always like you. They say mean things like, “She doesn’t do anything,” “He bit one of my customers the last time he came in,” and “This is a poisonous snake.” They go on and on about the functions you perform, the functions you don’t perform, the functions you could perform if you weren’t cleaning your butt. Eventually, you want to ask: Hey, are you asking all these questions because I’m a black lab? Yeah, I’m going to call you on it.
 Everyone expects a friendly bark, purr, or strangle. But they haven’t heard the trauma that keeps you up at odd hours, wailing at the moon and shitting in the litterbox. Your task has been to hold the collected anxiety of someone who gets four hours of sleep and pounds Xanax like a New York Times reporter at the White House. With all the rage and sadness buried in your soul, like a wedding cake with a crazy person hiding inside, how do they expect you to act? 
 You’re caught in between, not a regular dog, not a therapy dog, a bastard like Heinz ketchup-mayonnaise or a centaur with human legs and a horse head. You don’t have friends on either side and negotiate dual citizenship awkwardly—like a Canadian-American afraid to tell the neighbors she accidentally ran over their cat.
 Is it anyone’s fault that you catapulted over the counter and assaulted some barista? No one’s fault but society’s. If they hadn’t expected you to fill so many roles, then we might not be in this situation.  
 And added to the occasional innocent outburst are those animals who abuse the good name of therapy animals, like Harriet the emotionally destabilizing cat or Gus the angry turtle. But it’s only when someone tries to check a peacock as a United carry-on bag that it goes too far, and humans say, “We don’t know where the line was, but we crossed it.” And where does that leave you? Out of work, depressed, lonely, in need of your own therapy pet.
 But you have a dream. You want to start a commune for castoff emotional support animals, where time is spent hugging each other and rolling around in the grass, like Naropa but with more fur. It would be a happy life, somewhere in the mountains far from people but with good Wi-Fi and a first-rate buffet. No more needy humans, no hell below you, above you only sky. Imagine all the dogs and cats living for today, nothing to kill or die for… It’s easy if you try.
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