Getting (and Giving) Enough Pet Therapy?
Most pet owners know that owning a dog (or cat) offers many wonderful benefits. They make us feel loved and cherished; they are always ready and willing to listen and cuddle close whenever we need it. They also make us laugh and feel part of something much bigger than just ourselves.
If you have a dog, or cat, with a sweet, loving and generous nature, have you ever thought that they could also help other people like they help you?
For the past few years, my two Border Terriers and I have been visiting older people with dementia and more recently, younger people with learning or physical disabilities. These visits are known as pet therapy (UK) or animal-assisted therapy (USA) for individuals with certain physical or mental challenges or disabilities.
Doing pet therapy means volunteering your time usually with a registered charity like P.A.T. (Pets As Therapy) or a similar organisation. These charities are aware of which hospitals, residential and nursing homes, hospices, etc., are looking for people to volunteer with their pets. In addition, these establishments also know which particular clients are interested in meeting your pet; this guidance is critical in ensuring a pleasant and rewarding experience … as not everyone is an animal lover.
My girls seem to love these visits immensely, meeting and being fussed over by different people and I have to say it always makes my day too! Seeing so many faces light up with huge smiles all because a dog has entered the room.
Some of these same people may have had to give up a beloved pet in order to be looked after full-time and others may have lost a dog in their lives that they still miss. These visits always create and bring such joy and positivity to not only these people’s lives, but also for the dog and its owner. Without a doubt, everyone is left with happy new memories from one of these visits.
Did you also know that pet therapy is believed to improve things like high blood pressure, actively stimulate thought processes and memories and also help promote positive mental health? To see someone who barely speaks on a day-to-day basis start to chat and interact with your dog and then to the people around them about their own dog, is so satisfying and heartwarming.
If you want to feel like a beaming, proud mum or dad, there is nothing better than hearing from the staff that your visit was remembered for days afterwards by the same people who sometimes can’t even remember their own name or where they are! That is the power of the dog … connecting and offering unconditional love to everyone they meet! Just like your pet does everyday with you, your dog makes everyone feel good about themselves and always leaves behind a smile and new happy memories of the time spent together.
While it may not be the first thing that pops into your head when it comes to volunteering and animals, nothing beats volunteering with your own dog or cat for such a good cause.
If you would like to know more about this subject, please visit P.A.T. at www.PetsAsTherapy.org or Animal-Assisted Therapy at www.animaltherapy.net/How%20to%20get%20started.html today and make someone’s day brighter (including your own!) with some pet therapy.
I’d love to hear from you if you have volunteered with your pet or are thinking about it, please leave a comment or share your story below.