CURE NATION friends: If you’ve been lucky enough to ever truly love an animal, then you understand just how powerful the bond can be between human and pet. Animal therapy has become popular in our culture and if you have a disability, you’ve probably been exposed to therapy animals through rehab or hospital visits.
But, the concept isn’t new. There’s evidence that cultures all over the world have used animal therapy to support the well-being of their humans for hundreds, and possibly even thousands, of years.
the History of pet Therapy
“Equine therapy dates back to the times when horses were used for therapeutic riding in ancient Greek literature. Orbasis of ancient Lydia documented the therapeutic value of riding in 600 B.C.” – From anxietytreatmentexperts.com
Other early recorded cases of animal therapy include the York Retreat in England, which began using small animals to help treat patients with mental illness in the late 1700’s.
Later, in the 1930’s, Sigmund Freud included his dog, JoFi, in all of his sessions because he realized that she helped put his patients at ease, which enabled them to get more out of the therapy. Read more.
Today, millions of people have benefited from the power of pet therapy, including equine programs for children with disabilities and emotional support dogs for veterans and seniors.
Organizations like Pet Partners exist to raise awareness about the healing power of pets and facilitate therapy sessions for people in need.
There are so many ways in which our pets make our lives better, but here are a few big ones:
1. Companionship and Mutual Love
The companionship and unconditional love that we experience with our pets can be life-changing. At times, relationships and interactions with other humans can be strained or uncomfortable.
We, all too often, have feelings of inadequacy and get caught up in trying to be something we’re not with the people in our lives. But, with our pets, we have the freedom and safety to be ourselves – and be loved for it.
There’s nothing like the look in your pet’s eyes and their unmistakable happiness when they’re reunited with the person they love.
2. They Teach us Important Lessons
Sometimes we get so busy that we forget about the simple things that make a happy life. Our pets are always there to remind us, though, if we’re paying attention.
They inspire us to be playful, allow us to be silly and encourage us to stay active. They’re forgiving and loyal. They understand the authentic joy in laying in the sun, or getting a good stretch or taking a walk in nature.
Our pets also help us grow into better humans.
They teach important lessons about patience and the responsibility of taking care of another living thing. They remind us that we can’t control everything and that we’ll survive if our favorite pair of shoes is destroyed. They show us how we should look at the people we love.
3. pets as Service Animals
As powerful as the emotional support can be from a pet, many people with physical and mental disabilities rely on them for so much more. For people with service animals and companion dogs, their “pet” literally aids their independence and improves their quality of life.
From guiding seeing-impaired individuals through busy city streets, to opening doors for people with mobility impairments, to detecting a seizure or low blood sugar before they happen – it’s utterly remarkable what animals can understand and accomplish for the humans they love.
Did you know?
Service animals come in all shapes and sizes!
Certified assistance animals can include various breeds of dogs, capuchin monkeys, and even ferrets and pot-belly pigs.
If you’re curious about getting a service dog, but not sure where to start, check out this helpful guide from Rover.com.
If you’ve been thinking of bringing a pet into your life, hopefully this article helped you understand some of the many benefits.
Keep in mind that pets are a lot of responsibility and not without their challenges, but those who have felt that unconditional love would say that the benefits of pet ownership are worth it.
Have a story about your pet and how they’ve helped you? Share it in the comments below!
*Photos courtesy of Get Out, Enjoy Life event.
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