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 and rabbits.

Why are pets therapeutic? 

  1. 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 few moments.

  2. 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.

  3. Pets are trusting.  We can learn trust from them and build trust in ourselves and others.

  4. Pets listen well no matter what you have to say.  They don’t interrupt or force their opinions on you.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 home.


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