Bearded dragon eases Love’s social anxiety


Emma Pierce

Cheeto, a bearded dragon, provides emotional support to sophomore Elizabeth Love.

According to the Alvarado Parkway Institute, emotional support animals can help distract their owners from things that could cause them anxiety and ultimately help them relax. Sophomore Elizabeth Love uses her bearded dragon to help cope with anxiety. 

“My bearded dragon’s name is Cheeto, and I have her to help with my social anxiety,” Love said. “I have had her for about 3 years now.”

Love has struggled with anxiety since she was young, but it significantly got bad around this year after coming back from the isolation of being homeschooled. She has always carried Cheeto around through stores and such, but she had to find a way to adjust when she came back to in-person school. 

On the days where Love doesn’t take her anxiety medicine, she brings Cheeto to school with her usually on Thursdays and Fridays.

“I bring her on Thursdays and Fridays because those are when I try to go without my anxiety medicine,” Love said, ”so it’s really just to build up the missing comfort there.”

She keeps Cheeto in a small backpack with a blanket and does not take him out unless given permission by a teacher. The backpack also has small holes so that she can breathe throughout the day. Love says her biology teacher, Kelley Keith, and English teacher, Ashley Monson both let her occasionally bring Cheeto out when they are finished doing work. 

“They don’t let me take her out all the time,” Love said. “If we are done doing work and people want to hold her, then I can take her out.” 

Love keeps her bearded dragon tucked away for most of the day, so that it doesn’t create a distraction in school or for other people in class. 

Monson’s first response was concern for the lizard itself. She was worried about her carrying Cheeto in the hallway during passing periods.

“I was like what happens when someone knocks into you in the hallways and hurts your lizard?” Monson said. “I don’t want the lizard to be traumatized by high school life.” 

Monson also says that she understands how Cheeto comforts Love because she says animals are comforting in general.

“I think having an animal is definitely a support for people who have anxiety,” Monson said. “My dog gives me comfort and I wish I could bring him.”

However, Monson says that Love and her bearded dragon, Cheeto, are not a distraction and that she is a really nice lizard. 

“One day we were doing a strawberry lab in Mrs Keith’s class,” Love said. “ She let me feed Cheeto a strawberry. It was a lot of fun.”