"All over the world, major universities researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions are employing full-time pet therapists." …Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love
Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness.
Too often, people who live alone or are suddenly widowed die of broken hearts. Love is the most important medicine and pets are one of nature's best sources of affection. Pets relax and calm. They take the human mind off loneliness, grief, pain, and fear. They cause laughter and offer a sense of security and protection. They encourage exercise and broaden the circle of one's acquaintances.
Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have regular visits from pets - whether their own or those brought in from various agencies - are more receptive to medical treatment and nourishment. Animals give the patient the will to live and in nursing homes, the medical staff is often surprised to see residents suddenly "become alive." Animals have a calming effect on humans and benefit mental well-being, especially with children and the elderly.
In recent years, the experts have been relying on pet therapy as a valuable aid in reaching out to the elderly, the infirm, and to ill or abused children through-out the country. Therapy animals go to convalescent homes, hospitals, day care centers, juvenile halls, and prisons. These animals are trained to be calm, gentle and well-mannered, especially around rambunctious children. There are no breed requirements.
In fact, many therapy animals are mixed breeds. They come in all sizes and shapes. Cats and small dogs are good because they can be lifted easily and fit even on the smallest laps. A large dog makes a good companion for someone in a wheelchair, sitting patiently and allowing the occupant to stroke his fur.
Most important is that the therapy cats and dogs have a calm, gentle personality and are people-oriented. They must love attention and petting and not be shy. In addition, they need basic obedience training and should be conditioned to sudden noises. They provide an invaluable service to those who are lonely, abandoned, or ill; indeed, anyone who needs the miraculous healing that can arise from a hug and a gentle touch.
Children, especially those who are abused or neglected, are able to communicate with animals. A pet offers a safe place for a child with emotional problems. They give unconditional love, providing a security blanket.
A dog, cat, ferret or parrot can be the bond that glues a family together when upheaval, such as moving, death or divorce, occurs. Often, an animal can reach a child beyond an adult's touch.
Mary Kelly, a child-life specialist at Children's Hospital in Oakland, CA (USA), coordinates pet therapy sessions twice a month. She keeps a camera on hand to record the incredible connections that occur. "We've had very dramatic visits where a dog brought a child who has not spoken for months out of depression," she states. "Most kids can relate to animals, so seeing and touching the pets brings them a sense of normalcy."
Professionals in the field of pet-assisted therapy find that in addition to cats and dogs, fish, pot-bellied pigs, birds, reptiles, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, horses and llamas are also valuable healers. They have also found pets lower blood pressure and stress levels, give the patient a reason to interact, offer a chance to exercise and a sense of security and/or intimacy, allow communication, and offer continuity in life.
The innocence of animals and their ability to love makes animals special. Human beings want to be part of their world, to connect with them in a mysterious and powerful way that will strengthen and nurture both humans and animals.
Allen Schoen, DVM says "In order to bond with animals, we have to step outside ourselves and learn to communicate on their terms." During his years as a veterinarian, Dr. Schoen tells how love for our pets can literally save lives and how their love for us can be transforming in his book Love, Miracles and Animal Healing.
That animals feel our pain, our joy, and our stress should come as no surprise for anyone who has a pet. Whether we recognize it or not, the emotional as well as the physical environment we humans create has a direct impact on the way our pets behave. Dr. Schoen explains that "...we emit energetic signals related to our deepest feelings that are picked up by those around us - especially our pets." The emotional benefits from animals are difficult to measure, meaning that pets help humans without anyone knowing exactly why. What experts know, however, is that animals allow humans to focus, even for a short period of time, on something other than themselves.
Animals, especially small ones, have shown promise for many conditions, both social and physical:
- Pets help Alzheimer's patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer's patient has wandered into harm's way. "Pets can provide a measure of safety to people with the disease," says Thomas Kirk, a vice president of a chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
- Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
- Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
- Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
- Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
- Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
- Pets are a source of expectation, hope and communication. Looking forward to a social call or getting home after time away gives that spark of anticipation all humans need to help feel alive. Pets can help start a conversation, and help one who is struggling against unusual difficulties in learning to speak for the first time or after a speech impairment such as a stroke.
Animals also provide healing outside domestic settings: dolphin and pet-assisted therapy, horseback riding, farm animal and wildlife interaction, and marine life activity.
The incredible abilities of pets are astounding:
Dogs sniff out deadly land mines in Bosnia and earthquakes worldwide, searching for victims. After the bombing in Oklahoma City, OK (USA), they crawled through twisted metal and broken glass in 12 hour shifts, searching for survivors. K-9 Corps dogs work with police and military personnel to uncover drugs, bombs and criminals. At airports, specially trained beagles scramble through cargo and baggage for illegal contraband, including foreign viruses. They aid the blind and assist the deaf and disabled. They have been used to detect cancerous lesions, long before they look suspicious. And we must never forget the combat dogs who served our countries, War Dogs - Dogs in Combat.
Cats are certainly the most curious and also the most psychic of pets. Throughout the ages, they have predicted earthquakes and other natural disasters, found missing persons and alerted their owners to danger. They can sense when a person needs help. Betty White relates the story of Handsome, a Persian cat who was taken to a nursing home and met Marie, a lonely senior with no friends and no family. She remained curled in a fetal position with no interest in living. She had sores on her legs from constant scratching. After Handsome became Marie's roommate, whenever she tried to scratch herself, he would play with her hands or otherwise distract her. Within a month the sores had healed. But even more incredible, she was so fascinated with the cat that she asked the staff about his care. Before long, she was inviting other residents to come visit with her pet.
Even more dramatic is the story of Nina Sweeney from Lawrence, MA (USA). Her seven cats and dog saved her life one fateful night in January. The temperature was bitterly cold when she went to bed. During the night Nina was struck with a paralyzing illness that left her helpless. Unable to leave her bed, she listened as the fire in her stove sputtered and died. Outside, the thermometer registered below zero and the numbing chill seeped into the house. Nina prayed someone would find her as she shivered beneath her blankets. Two days passed before neighbors investigated. When they reached her, they found Nina alive and warm, one cat on either side of her, another draped like a fur on her neck. One was nestled on her chest and another under her arm. Beneath the covers were two other cats. Her dog lay across her stomach. Her pets had kept Nina from freezing to death.
A pet is an animal that is very beneficial to its owner. There’s even now a type of treatment called pet therapy. I myself have a pet dog and since having it, many things in my household have changed for the better. Below are 3 things why owning a pet will positively affect your life.
Firstly, a pet like any other animal needs to eat and shit. They have a daily schedule that needs to be attended to. Like for example, my pet dog eats 2 meals a day, once in the morning and once in the night. He gets his shower on Saturdays. So, caring for a pet actually encourages nurturance, responsibility and adherence to a daily schedule. This is especially a solid reason for you to convince your parent to get that pet you’ve been wanting.
Secondly, pets improve a person’s mood. No matter how angry, sad or stressed out you may be, spending time with your pet will put your focus and attention on it. There are actually 2 things that can suddenly improve your mood. One is a pet and the other is a baby. In this case, adopting a pet is easily more attainable than a baby.
Lastly, the third reason why you should own a pet is for accompaniment. This is especially beneficial to the elderly. Pets make you feel accepted every time. For example, my pet dog is usually left hanging around alone in the compound of my house. Even if you leave him alone the whole day, he will still come and lick me whenever I’m around. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is. Pets are also good listeners. Sharing your burden with it helps to alleviate your mind and put you at peace.
Marion Algier - True Health Is True Wealth
Source: Just One More Pet