Therapy Animals -Every One.

I was being half-mauled by a terrier. I was running an errand in an urban office and the dog’s owner was horrified. She apologized, explaining that her dog never did that.

In the dogs’ defense, I have a very special stink to my feet. I carry with me a cornucopia of delightful smells from several species in my barn. I smell like an exception to the rule.

Her dog was a therapy dog, she said.  I smiled and replied, “All animals are therapy animals.” But I offended her and was told her dog had a certificate. I meant no disrespect. My dog, Hero, and I were spending an evening a week visiting in a nursing home at the time.

No one denies the value of a wide variety of service animals –the results are scientifically proven. Service dogs are capable of complex, near-magical tasks. Horses in handicapped riding programs reduce handlers to goose bumps and tears routinely.

I was born with a full set of senses. The hearing in my left ear was the first to go, thanks to a series of infections. I’m lucky to have dogs, llamas, and donkeys who warn me when visitors come up the driveway. My sense of smell is limited after a childhood incident with a sheep but not having a sense of smell in the barn isn’t the worst thing. If I triangulate  llama gazes, or follow donkey ears, I see all kinds of things my eyes would miss.

Sure, I have lost some of my senses along the way but human senses are limited compared to most animals in the first place.

What about the other senses that animals improve -like a sense of confidence or safety? I don’t know a better kind of physical therapy for dealing with the loss of a loved one. Some of us find a sense of belonging with animals that we don’t find as sweet anywhere else. And animals don’t discriminate on grounds of disability, they help us all equally.

“All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he’ll listen to me any day.” Anonymous

You have to ask yourself -hypothetically speaking– if someone who chose to  live with the population of a small zoo would seem to imply a greater need for therapy than the average person -even need a staff of therapists?

I don’t think that’s true. Maybe a large animal family is actually a sign of extreme and abundant mental health.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

(Photo: Shoes that make a good dog do bad.)

This blog is free, and it always will be. Free to read, but also free of ads because I turn away sponsorships and pay to keep ads off my site. I like to read a clean page and think you do too. If you appreciate the work I do, or if your horse does, consider making a donation.

Anna Blake

8 thoughts on “Therapy Animals -Every One.”

  1. I’ve always considered mucking a type of therapy too, so animal therapy extends to what they leave behind. Always better to scoop the real stuff than the figurative kind.

  2. I think the power of animals is remarkable. I worked at a rehab center in a hospital for nine years, where we had an active pet therapy program. Patients worked harder in PT, focused longer, and smiled MORE on the days that the pets came in.

    I saw first hand the effect. Great post!

  3. I enjoyed reading this. Several years ago I volunteered at a therapeutic riding center for children, and it was amazing to see what a difference it made for the kids and how much they looked forward to their therapy. When I finish school I hope to have horses again.

  4. My niece loves therapeutic riding, the horses bring joy, exercise and freedom. She loves her two dogs and animals in general. She is wheelchair bound and can not communicate verbally but she lights up in company of a furry companion.
    Animals are the best therapists, I agree. Demonstrated time and time again to cure depression and help all of us release the mind, simplify our day from hours to a minute at a time and hold all of deepest secrets.
    My dog was that for me and her contribution to my well-being goes beyond anything any person has ever given me.
    Great post – newcomer to the site through BlogHer- enjoyed it!


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