Who saves who

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“When the dogs go walking down the hall of the
hospital, it’s like the scene in The Wizard Oz when evrything changes from black
and white… to COLOR” Judi Levicoff.

 

They are an important part of our lives and many of us
know how good it is to have a pet while getting through tough experiences. No
matter if the animals are trained or not; if we own and care for pets, it gives
us a kind of therapy and health benefits. Pet therapy can help reduce stress,
anxiety and depression. It can also improve social skills and increase
self-esteem. Therapy animals help children with learning disabilities, anger
management and behavioral difficulties; there are even dogs who help children
how to read. More and more often animals are used in senior facilities because
they can lower cholesterol levels, prevent heart attack and stroke or help to
fight against depression. But that’s not all! Those amazing creatures help also
the family and friends of the person who needs the traetment – they say the
presence of the animal makes them feel better too.

While talking about pet therapy, which is a very
broad term, we have to define two phrases: Animal-Assisted
Therapy (AAT)
and Animal-Assisted
Activities (AAA)
. AAT is including an animal in patient’s
treatment and AAA is using animals in recreational and visitation programs to
help people with special needs. So does the therapy have any risks? Well, the
biggest concerns is the safety and sanitation in hospitals. Most of the medical
facilities have strict rules to ensure that the animals are clean, vaccinated,
well-trained and with appropriate behaviour.
Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention
has never received a report of any infection from
a therapy animal.

The animal chosen for a particular therapy depends on
the therapeutic goals of a person’s treatement plan. Animals which are most
often used in AAT are dogs, cats, horses, smallies, bird and
reptiles.

DOGS

Cute and cuddly, dogs are the most popular
animals used in pet therapy. They
bring affection and comfort to people and are perfect
for patients who live in confined living conditions. Most of the therapy dogs
wear a special clothing to let people know that they are safe to interact
with.

CATS

Even though cats are difficult to train and are not
capable of performing a wide range of tasks which a dog can do, they are also
used in therapies. Those animals are suitable for patients who are afraid of or
intimidated by dogs. Those lovely individuals can be found in nursing homes
where they roam around and cheer up the elderly.

HORSES

Also called equine therapy. Studies have shown
that horse therapy is successful in improving following areas: assertiveness,
emotional awareness, empathy, stress tolerance, flexibility, impulse control,
problem-solving skills, self-actualization, independence, self-regard, social
responsibility, interpersonal relationships. (source:
http://www.crchealth.com/types-of-therapy/what-is-equine-therapy/
)

REPTILES

Unbelievable? But true! Reptiles are now being used in
London to offer comfort and emotional support to patients struggling with eating
disorders and depression. If you want to take care of a raptile you need a great
deal of concentration and attention. That helps the patients to cope with their
mental, emotional or physical struggles. Caring for an unusual pet (which a
reptile undeniably is) gives patients a dose of confidence.

SMALLIES

Smallies are small pets such as rabbits, hamsters or
guinea pigs. They are trained to offer assistance, companionship and comfort to
the patients. They help improving motor skills and offer several behavioral and
emotional benefits.

BIRDS

Especially parrots are great birds to be an emotional
support animals. the have a high level of empathy and can be taught phrases and
words which might keep patients busy and occupied. Taking care or injured or
abused birds can help veterans suffering from PTSD to ease the
symptoms.

“There is something about the outside of a horse that
is good for the inside of a man.” Winston Churchill said while talking about
horseback riding. His words also refer to deeper meaning than just phasical
exercise. Being around the animals; no matter if they are big or small, with
soft fur or without fur at all; makes us humans feel better both in mind and in
heart.

 

Photos, which you can see below, were taken
in
Klarastift in Münster,
Germany during a meeting of its habitants with animals, which took place on
20th June 2017. There were two experts. The first one was
Daan Vermeulen who is a dipl.
physiotherapist with many years of experience in the geriatrics. In his
animal-assisted therapy he works with a miniature pig Felix in geriatric and
pedagogical area. Vermeulen is a well-known therapist with many publications in
Germany, including the magazine “Tiergestützte”. The second was a groupexperts
from
Eseltherapie Terhürne
UG
which
offers animal therapy not only for seniors but also children, various seminars
and courses.

During the meeting, the animals and their owners
created a friendly and positive atmosphere, which allowed the habitants of
Klarastift to relax, feel comfortable and simlpy smile.

 

 

Beata
Jaranowska

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