What I Learned from My Pets: It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Reading time: 5 min. 30 sec.

Audience: people who have difficulty asking for help, pet owners, animal lovers

“Why would you adopt this dog, knowing that you had to spend so much money on it?” asked a man at a dog park in Edmonton with a scowl on his face. I shrugged, explained that my friend is a vet and walked away with one-eyed Penny… without him knowing that I am a veterinarian.

This rude man thought that I wasted money. When I was younger, I would have started crying because I cared too much about what people think, even complete strangers. In fact, I was brought up to care about what others think. Sad, eh?

What about what I think? Does my opinion not matter in my own life? I think what this man said was cold-hearted and rude. There are people who spend way more than I did on frivolous things. I gave a good dog a home and removed a source of pain/discomfort by removing her eye. The pet store Penny was supposed to go to would not take her because of her damaged eye.

Me and Penny the Day after I Brought Her Home

People can be so superficial. I got sick of people’s opinions after three decades of caring too much about people’s opinions. It is my life. I will live it my way, helping pets and people along the way.

Occasionally, I still get affected by others’ unsolicited opinion like when another rude man told me that I was torturing my cat (see my previous blog post). Neither one of these middle-aged white men ever even considered that I could be a veterinarian… even though I am not the only young female Asian veterinarian in Edmonton or in Seattle. If I looked different, would they have said what they said? I am fortunate enough plus I worked hard to make the money to afford Penny’s enucleation surgery.

When I adopted her, I was hoping to do reconstructive surgery on her eyelids. Then I discovered how dry the eye was and was advised by my vet friend to remove it. He is a good friend and a good vet. He could have told me what I wanted to hear.

I considered doing the surgery myself. Even though I do not cry often, I knew that I would be while removing her eye. How could I do the surgery properly if tears were obscuring my vision?

There are people who would have given me a hard time for feeling sad if they were still in my life. They would say that it is not logical to cry about the loss of something that is damaged, but I am not them. It is not that I am illogical. It is that I feel strongly; I have the INFJ personality type.

The first time I took the Myers-Brigg Indicator Type personality test or MBTI was when I was twenty years old, right before I started vet school. To be honest, it did not seem helpful at that time. I remember having difficulty answering the questions, a sign of a lack of self-awareness. Not surprisingly, my test result was not accurate.

Fast forward almost a decade, I retook the test. It was an aha moment. I finally understood why so many people could not understand me: I have the least common of the 16 different personality types.

If you would like to learn more about yourself, I recommend visiting This free online version only takes ten minutes.

I also recommend reading the Time Guide to Happiness. There are three sections: Get Happy in Life, Get Happy at Work, and Get Happy at Home. One article called Why Having Lots of Feelings is Good for Your Health mentions a study that found lower levels of inflammation in people with a wide variety of positive emotions.

Another article in the Time Guide to Happiness called The Science of Crying mentions a study that found people who do not cry more prone to be disconnected from others and to have more negative feelings such as disgust and rage. Crying with tears, a distinctly human behavior, can be cathartic, anger-neutralizing, and compassionate.

“Tears are of extreme relevance for human nature. We cry because we need other people. So Darwin was totally wrong [about tears being purposeless].” ―Ad Vingerhoets, Dutch professor and author of Why Only Humans Weep

Returning to the story of Penny, to do the best thing for Penny, I asked my friend to help me remove her eye. I remember sitting on my couch, carefully crafting the text message in such a way that he did not feel pressured to do the surgery. Asking for help is not easy for me.

Growing up, I felt like a burden. The fear of being a burden followed me into my adulthood in contrast to my peers who relied heavily on others. This story leads me to the first lesson that I learned from my pets:

It is okay to ask for help… 

Especially if you want the best for your pet

The question that follows is: What if I need to ask for help for myself? Most people do not mind helping pets or children. I am a grownup. Should I not be self-sufficient or independent?

Put yourself in the shoes of a good friend.

If your friend saw you carrying a big box blocking, would they help carry it or at least hold the door open for you? Do you want to risk hurting your back or breaking what is inside the box?

Let’s go even deeper: If your friend saw you crying (I do not like it either), would they try to cheer you up or at least offer a tissue?

If the answer is yes, it is okay to ask them for help.

“Sometimes in life, you fall down holes you can’t climb out of by yourself. That’s what friends and family are for – to help. They can’t help, however, unless you let them know you’re down there.” ―Meg Cabot, American writer

We all fall, young or old. Shit happens. You can get mad at yourself for falling and stay stuck in the hole. A better alternative is to get help so that you can get out of the hole faster. Asking for help takes humility and strength.

Humility is an underrated personality trait. If you are quiet, if you do not talk about your achievements, you can be misunderstood as submissive, meek, or insecure. It is actually the opposite.

“Humble people ask for help.” ―Joyce Meyer, American author and speaker

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“The strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it.” ―Rona Barrett, Amerian businesswoman and advocate for senior citizens

Humble, strong people ask for help and offer help. To read more about the habits of humble people, read this well-written Forbes Business Magazine article.

How to Ask for Help

1. Be polite.

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

2. Explain why you need help.

If your safety is at risk, if it is the anniversary of the day you lost the most important pet or person in the world to you, if you are seriously ill, please do not suffer in silence.

3. Have a plan in case the person is not able to help you.

The person might not be able to help because of lack of time or ability to deal with the situation. Who else can you ask? Another friend, family member, neighbor, or non-profit organization? Focus on finding a solution instead of the disappointment when someone is not able to help you.

4. Say thank you after you have been helped.

It might seem like common sense, but from past experiences and from listening to friends who have been hurt recently, it is not. There are people who assume that you should help them over and over again with no token of appreciation because you are friends. Nobody likes to feel taken advantage of, used, or underappreciated.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Could you share my new blog with friends and family that you think will benefit from this post, please? Thank you!


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