Ever since I was a child I have loved animals. Growing up I was keeper of the rabbits and cats, all my animals were given names and had definite personalities. Having animals in my life has taught me about responsibility, friendship, patience and most importantly love. Through my difficult teenage years my best friend was my horse Shrimp. She would sense my moods and responded accordingly. As I rode I would express my feeling through words or just allow our spirits to connect, she never judged me or offended me.
Animals have the ability to brighten your mood and enhance the quality of your life. It is called animal therapy or pet therapy either way pets offer the same thing: companionship.
Anyone would reap benefits from animal therapy but those that are sick physically or emotionally or live alone are perfect candidates. Having an animal around can provide security. They direct the attention of their owner to other things helping them with their medical or psychological condition. The relationship with a pet will add new and exciting elements to the owner's life; they now have a reason to get up each morning and to do it will more energy and optimism.
Dogs are the most popular animal used for animal therapy but horses, cats, hamsters, ferrets, birds and rabbits are also be beneficial. When looking for an animal to have as a pet choose one that you enjoy and one that will fit comfortably into your life. It is important to choose an animal with these qualities:
- Well behaved
- Good with other animals
- Good with children
- Not a jumper
If you have chosen a dog as a companion you could purchase one from a breeder, a pet store or from a shelter and train it yourself. Or, you could purchase one from an organization that trains therapy dogs.
Pet therapy works because the animal is present but is non judgmental. You can talk to them, spend time with them and become best of friends. They are consistently there for you.
Sick people who own dogs visit the doctor less, a study was conducted of 100 Medicare patients and even the most highly stressed dog owners had a 21 percent lower level of physician contact than non-owners (Paws and Hearts). Hospitals that had implemented a pet program noticed that their patients recovered faster and were happier. Research compiled by Paws and Hearts, a pet therapy visitation organization, show that within minutes of petting a dog, the humans and dogs alike experience massive release
of such beneficial hormones as prolactin, oxytocin and phenylethylamine.
I have never suffered from an illness or been in lots of pain but I have reaped bounteous benefits from having pets. Just their presence radiates safety and comfort. If you find your self alone, battling an illness or just need some company then consider a pet to soothe your pain and bring ease to your journey.
By Jessica Carney
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