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An Alternate Form of Therapy
By Michael Plontz
Imagine a form of therapy that could
be used by anyone with a variety of mental, physical, or
emotional disabilities. It’s not a drug and it has no
side effects. It’s always there for you whenever you
need it. In fact it lives with you. It could be scaly,
feathered or furry. We’re talking about pet therapy, or,
as it’s sometimes referred to, “pet-facilitated therapy”
or “animal-assisted therapy.” The most commonly used
pets for pet therapy are dogs, cats, horses, fish, birds
Why are pets therapeutic?
Pets are alive. Being able to hold a pet or take care of
another living creature provides much comfort. It can
take the focus away from the illness or disability for a
Pets don’t criticize or judge and they give love
unconditionally. They accept for who we are no matter
what we do. They are very intuitive and can pick up on
your emotions, and respond in an attentive manner.
Pets are trusting. We can learn trust from them and
build trust in ourselves and others.
Pets listen well no matter what you have to say. They
don’t interrupt or force their opinions on you.
Pets make us feel important and needed. Whether your day
is good or bad, your pet can be the bright spot in your
day. Their dependence on us for food, grooming, water
and exercise makes us feel needed.
Pets can be very funny without even trying. They say
that laughter is the best medicine. They make us talk
“baby talk” and act sillier than we would normally. They
like to play and enjoy it even more when we join in.
It may be too much for the caregiver to take on the
responsibility of a pet along with everything else, but
you should consider it. Not only might it be beneficial
to your loved one, you may find that it’s good therapy
and stress relief for you, too.
Consider adopting a pet from your local Humane Society.
You’ll feel even better for giving a needy pet a good