Therapy Animals Bring Comfort, Reduce Stress, Companionship And Relieve Depression

meme of therapy dog with text "therapy animals"

by J. Lee


 

It has been proven how therapy animals provide many wonderful benefits and hope to those in need of comfort. Visitations could be at a hospital, convalescent home, in home or in an educational setting. Just seeing a pet brings joy. Therapy animals primarily include dogs, cats, standard or miniature horses, llamas, pigs, rabbits and birds.

Pet owners understand the emotional and physical benefits of sharing their lives with animals. According to Woman’s Day they “decrease depression, stress and anxiety; health-wise, it can lower your blood pressure, improve your immunity and even decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.”

Animal lovers already know how good it feels to interact with their pet. According to Dogtime  therapy pets provide “positive effects can also be applied in a therapeutic setting. Leveraging the power of pets is becoming a vital tool in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions and disorders — particularly those associated with mental health.

Here are a few types of pet therapy making their mark and how they can  successfully treat a wide range of conditions:

  • Wikipedia: A therapy dog is a canine that might be trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with autism.
  • Wikipedia: A therapy cat is a cat trained to help ailing humans in a medically beneficial way to take advantage of the human-animal interaction for purposes of relaxation and healing.
  • Equestrian Therapy: Equestrian therapy can help enhance the physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive skills of persons with disabilities. Equestrian therapy (also known as equine therapy or Equine-Assisted Therapy [EAT]) is a form of therapy that makes use of horses to help promote emotional growth.

San Diego, CA has a well know therapy dog named Chopper the Biker Dog. He and his dad Mark are very busy with visitations and charity work. He is well known in the motorcycle community too.

Chopper rides backseat on Mark’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Chopper rides his own motorized motorcycle during visitations and at charity events. Chopper even auditioned for the TV show America’s Got Talent. Chopper and Mark have received many awards for their hard work helping the community even though what they do is not for recognition. What they do is is a labor of love.

100 Bikes for Josiah was a ride that took place on Jan. 21 2012. Josiah has Spina Bifida. His wish was to have 100 motorcycles ride by his house. The ride brought out 4-5 THOUSAND motorcycles to fulfill Josiah’s wish.  Thanks to the amazing motorcycle community  Josiah’s dream came true. He loves motorcycles. He nurse was a Harley rider.

Sadly his nurse who began Josiah’s love for motorcycle’s when he was three years old was killed a few years ago in a motorcycle accident.

photo of motorcycle parade

This photo was taken by story author J. Lee while riding backseat for the 100 Bikes for Josiah ride. My friend and I were the motorcycle behind Chopper the Biker Dog.

Chopper is sitting on the passenger seat. His motorcycle is towed behind on a trailer to events. We were about to turn the turned the corner to Josiah’s house which was about 5 houses down.

I was honored to be part of this ride. It is a memory Josiah, the biker community and I will never forget.

 

 

Aug. 2, 2015 – Chopper’s the Biker Dog’s 6th Birthday Party!!! Picture of Chopper, Chopper’s dad Mark and J. Lee who is the author of this story.

 

Video: Chopper received a “special request” in a private message through his face book page. The message read, “Hi chopper its Carae from the Special Olympics game. My twin sister is having heart surgery on the 23rd of this month and she would love it if you could go see her and it would make her so happy I hope you can make if to see her.”

 

San Francisco, CA has a well known therapy cat named Duke. He is named after jazz legend Duke Ellington. He brings joy to critically ill patients and staff at UCSF Medical Center. Considering the difficulty of using a leash Duke rides around on cart to greet patients.

Duke was rescued from the San Francisco SPCA before he began his visitations to intensive care units.  According to Pet360 ten cat breeds make the best therapy cats. Cat owners and cat lovers know how cat’s have their own way of quieting hurting souls.

Video: Watch our wonderful therapy cat, “Duke Ellington” Morris, cheer up patients in the intensive care unit!

Shetland ponies and miniature horses provide excellent therapy. They give comfort while providing a distraction.

New York Post:

Therapeutic mini horses offer comfort to ailing patients– Guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that animal-assisted therapy in health care settings stems from evidence that having pets at home helps some patients recover more quickly from medical procedures. The guidelines focus mostly on infection control procedures and hand-washing for patients and hospital staff.

 

 

Standard size horses also help at therapy riding stables where those with special needs are taken for riding sessions. According the The Magic Horse Therapeutic Riding Center horses provide:

“Increased confidence, patience and self esteem…. physical improvements that include increased flexibility, balance, muscle strength, posture, coordination and motor development….independence, accomplishment and acceptance…..these are the everyday miracles you’ll find here. Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) contribute to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of people with disabilities”

I hope the readers of this story take away the understanding of how important therapy pets can be. They can improve lives through proven health benefits. They provide comfort to those in lonely settings such as a convalescent home or for dire situations within a hospital setting.

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2 Thoughts to “Therapy Animals Bring Comfort, Reduce Stress, Companionship And Relieve Depression”

    1. J. Lee

      Thank you for your comment and link. I changed the wording to read ‘Shetland ponies and miniature horses provide excellent therapy.’

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