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In my divorce decree, I took the two kids and Howie took the two dogs. I was not a dog lover at heart, and I was not going to have dogs anymore. For the first year post divorce, I’d been saying an absolute no. No to extra responsibility, no to one more thing to care for, no to the hair on me and my stuff, no to the scratch marks on doors and wood floors, no to the messes—inside or out—no to the expenses of feeding and vets. I mean, why would I want to spend money on something that would mess up my house, make my life harder, and give me yet one more thing to take care of? No way, no thank you!

But then a year went by. I was feeling stable and at home in my new life. I had a wonderful partner, and the kids and Chris started talking about us getting a dog. The thing that sealed the deal was a recommendation from JoJo’s therapist that she could really use an emotional support pet. I remember thinking so clearly, “Goddamn it! We are getting a dog.”

We looked into emotional support dogs. An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides some benefit for a person. Often the owners suffer from a disability. For JoJo, it was anxiety. Emotional support animals are typically dogs but can be cats; I have even heard of a peacock being an emotional support animal. Any animal can be a support animal, but there is a process of having your pet approved and certified. They need to be trained, and then you need a letter from your mental health professional. There are also all kinds of certifications you can apply for online.

So, we were getting a dog. We picked a beautiful female Maltese puppy, which JoJo named Cupcake Kitty. She was and still is so tiny and gorgeous. She is sassy and wild when the situation warrants it and snuggly, loving, calming and concerned when needed. We all love her and take turns caring for and being cared for by her. But without a doubt JoJo and Cupcake have the most special bond of all.

Cupcake has changed JoJo so much. She is much better about her fears of being alone and bugs, and overall she is less anxious, happier, more open, and more loving. This little, less than 5 lb. dog has done so much. And I don’t know what we would do or what life would be without her. It is very important to get the right kind of pet for your family. For us, it was a small, mostly inside, lap dog,

She is so very much a part of our family. She was in our first day of school pics and Christmas photo this year. I dare say I love her like one of my kids. Cupcake has changed me, and she’s changed my family. We have more love and more laughter, more expenses, more mess, a little more commotion, and a lot more calm and peace in our souls. The Suburban Goddess Mom and Cupcake Kitty are an odd pairing, but sometimes that’s all that your family needs: a little 5 lbs. of fluff.

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