Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Daughter wants a therapy pet

My daughter has been frequently “begging” for a pet of her own…a cat or her own dog… we already have a little shiz tzu…but she wants a big dog. She would think of it as a therapy pet…
She has read about therapy dogs can remind people to take their medication and such.
The thing is that she is a senior in high school and until we know what she is going to do afterwards, we can’t really consider this. If we know she was not going to college somewhere else, and staying at home with us, we might consider it.
IF (that’s a big if) she goes to college, one of the colleges she might be interested in does allow for therapy cats. Of course that is not the reason she is interested in that school, they have a good art program.

P.S. When I say a big if about her going to college I don’t mean that I doubt she will be able to, but that it depends if she thinks she is ready to or not. The thought of four more years of school can be terrifying for her at times.

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A therapy pet was one of the biggest helps for my partner
Changed her life in a positive direction
Dogs are so loving and can comfort her
And she doesn’t feel too lonely as well
The pet we got was such a blessing and has helped us through our journey!

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We got a kitten!
Could be a lot easier

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Just a thought, take her to a humane center and walk the dogs or volunteer first, scraping up a bunch of poop may change her mind or she may love it! AnnieNorCal
When my kids were growing up, we went to the humane center and volunteered to walk dogs. we were very busy as a family and dogs take lots of personal time and care.


My brother has been considering a therapy dog for a few weeks. As a family, we have gathered a bit of research that might be helpful:

  1. Consider your current lifestyle. Research various breeds from the perspective that the animal not only has to fit your own needs, but you have to fit the animal’s needs as well. If you aren’t interested in frequent grooming, a cocker spaniel would end up having health problems (like infections) due to long fur becoming tangled. Likewise, if you spend most of your time indoors, a boarder collie might become neurotic due to being confined and having little use for it’s energy.
  2. Consider which breed fits your expectations for intelligence and trainability. German Shepherds can herd, hunt and search with amazing dilligence; but they generally require hours of practice every week to become consistently good at it and they generally have a lot of nervous energy when they aren’t actively working.
    Likewise, while a Great Dane can enjoy a quiet, relaxed lifestyle, they can weigh as much as a grown man and are tall enough to reach the snacks you tried to hide on top of the fridge. Every breed has advantages and disadvantages. Being a positive influence on your pet and enjoying the benefits of emotional support and help with timing medication and meals depends a lot upon the animal’s needs being met.
  3. (At least in South Carolina) a service animal has to be purchased, immunized and trained by the owner. Apparently, there is no resource to buy an adult pet who has been trained in support already. (This is according to our psychiatrist, who has patients that own service animals).
  4. Make a contingency plan for the possibility that the chosen pet can’t (or won’t) fit your needs. The videos we see on youtube about amazing, smart, gentle service animals are the absolute best case scenario. But sometimes an animal turns out to be one of the rare one-off individuals which isn’t smart enough, doesn’t enjoy training or working, or who simply has instincts that contradict training.
    I had a Dutch Shepherd that we bought with the plan to train her for bite work and eventually donate to the Sheriff department. We followed the national standards for training from day one, with the help of a team of people who train working dogs for search and rescue and bite work. She ended up being a runt (despite being the biggest puppy in her litter). We re-trained her for search and rescue, but her instinctive aggression made her unpredictable enough that we didn’t think it would be safe to let her search for small children or elderly people. It was a bit of a disappointment, but we kept her engaged and active until we could find a new home for her with a capable owner.
    A hard lesson, especially having to re-home such an intelligent and athletic dog (I still miss her). But it stands to prove that an animal is an individual, and just like people; they have instinct, genetics, attitude and habits that might limit how capable that animal is for the job you want it to do.
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A couple of years ago my daughter did volunteer work at the local ASPCA for a service project for school. Her job was to feed and play with the cats and clean their cages. So she knows about this already

My son took in a tame stray last year, and it has been a help for him. It gives him a reason to stay calm, and something to give his attention and affection. Has turned out to be great! He is not a registered therapy cat or anything, just a low-key cat.


My son wanted a cat so he wouldn’t be lonely. He had always been a dog guy but he did recognize that his lifestyle didn’t support the scheduled routine walking of a dog.

The cat has become a therapy cat of sorts. It wakes him up if it’s past feeding time, complains to him if the litter box needs cleaning and keeps him company.

Basically she wants a pet that will be her own that is more than the beta fish she has.
Like I said we have the ship tzu, but he is mainly my dog. And she wants a bigger dog. She does love cats too, so she would be happy with that too.

This is somewhat off topic, but has your daughter considered starting at a 2-year community college? One that would allow her to live at home a while longer, and gain some confidence before transferring to a 4-year school?


Not completely off topic since I mentioned what she does after high school determines if we get her a pet. We mentioned a community college as a possibility but she isn’t keen on the idea right now… We said she could get the gen ed classes out of way and her response was “woohoo more math!” (Sarcastic tone of course).
We have also suggested correspondence classes as a possibility to get started. I actually did go to a community college when I went to college since my high school grades weren’t great because of my ADHD and then transferred to a 4 yr college.

The first step she needs to take is grow enough confidence for her to get her driver’s license. (Another thing that has been stressful for her)

I’d go ahead and get her a cat. My cat makes a world of difference in my life and we get my BFs cat for 6 weeks and my son likes to cuddle up with that cat. I love those large dogs as well but can’t have them in a condo.

Perhaps one class at a time to start. I’m an artist and take classes that aren’t for grading which makes a world of difference.

Many parents would likely agree that whenever your child gets a pet, you get a pet and may well end up
assuming all responsibility and costs that go with that. My daughter is now fourteen, but we
now own and care for a Jack Russell, a white rabbit, two geckos and a goldfish. Recently I said no to
the husky and fortunately, we are allergic to cats.

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I think a pet is great for for challenged “kids” our 27 yo son lives with us and he loves my 2 dogs. Problem is… My dogs don’t especially love him. Especially when he doesn’t take meds… It scares them. He is going to move into his own place soon. I think a cat would be great. But, I seriously doubt him moving will last. Then we are stuck with a cat… To be fair and give him the best chance of being on his own, I feel a companion cat would help this happen. So my husband and I are thinking about it.

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It’s the opposite for our daughter… Our dog loves her… but she doesn’t love him… it is because he is a little excitable. If dogs could have ADHD, he would be!

Now my son says he wants to buy a maltipoo… very expensive. He just got disability , and got back pay, so he does have the money. I think the ideal thing would be for him to go to a shelter and see what dog picks him…

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I will say that animals have a wonderful effect on my son - he loves them a lot. When he was living at home this fall, one of the cats never left his side. He also bonded strongly with his cousin’s dog. He isn’t home right now and isn’t around any animals, but I would get him a therapy pet in a second if I could.

As it stands, his current living situation will be over in May, so there’s too much uncertainty. Going forward, I hope animals will be a part of his life in the future.

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