You don’t have to have a farm to love it. You don’t have to have cows, horses, cats, dogs or chickens to appreciate animals. Whether you live in a city, a suburb or a rural area, most people enjoy the idea of, or have a fantasy about both.
This principle has come home to roost for me many times over the past fifteen years. Part of my duties for the Counseling Office has been to contact insurance companies for authorizations, billing issues and credentialing. Often times, when the person answers the phone, you can just hear in their voices that they have had a rough day. Perhaps they have just dealt with an angry doctor’s office, a frustrated client or a tragedy. Either way, the stiffness of their shoulders, the crease between their eyes comes through in those first few words. That always sends me a message that some relief needs to be administered.
In comes the farm. Or, more precisely, some off-handed comment about the cows, the chickens or the dogs. In the beginning, I usually would mention Elvis, our Hereford Bull, and whatever antic he pulled. “Oh, wow. I know the consequences of running late. If I don’t get Elvis’, our 2,200 pound bull, his treats in a timely manner, he tries to get in the back door”. You can almost see the startled expression come through the phone line.
On some occasions, like recently, I was working my way down the list of insurance and EAP companies, trying to terminate contracts due to my bosses’ retirement. At one EAP, I had a nice talk with the woman about farming in general, the weird, extreme weather we have been having (she is in Birmingham), and all the fun antics of our animals. We laughed over her new kitten – and I admit to a little piece of jealousy over her older cat – and swapped stories about dreams for living on a farm. She and I both agree that animals and farm life are probably one of the best medicines to combat depression. I mean, really, who can stay depressed when you finally have had all you can take and you head out to the pasture – planning on sobbing loudly and reaching out to God to ‘fix it’, just to have a big huge cow come over and knock you over with the power of a lick upside the face. (Thank you, Scratcher, for that well-timed kiss).
All types of animals have been used for therapy. Cats. Dogs. Horses are said to be one of the few animals that most closely resemble the feeling of a human. They can sense sadness, anger, joy and other emotions, and have a tendency to reflect them in their own behavior. I am not sure if cattle are capable of that, but Scratcher does seem to know how I am feeling, and will either step over to comfort me, or try and finagle more cow candy out of me. Either way, I know she cares.
Just because you have a farm doesn’t mean it has to be all work. Just because you don’t have a farm doesn’t mean you can’t have the benefit of a pet. If you are feeling depressed and don’t have a cat, dog, or some other type of pet, try visiting a friend that does, or go to a local animal shelter to love on the ones there. And if you are really down in the dumps, just stop by for a visit. Scratcher usually has plenty of kisses to share – especially if you have Cow Candy (Range Cubes)!
A special thank you to all those ladies and gentlemen at the insurance companies who have shared their stories of farm life, farm dreams and animals. I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversations.
And Lisa? I still have your room ready. (You know EXACTLY who I am talking about – tell Barzillai I said ‘hi’, and give him a big hug for me!)