Pets and their health benefits to humans
I’ve been an animal lover since the first time I saw an animal during my childhood. My parents liked animals but were not that crazy about them as I eventually grew up to be. The fact is that we used to live in a very small flat and having an animal would be a challenge for but the family and the poor animal, that would live in a small “prison”. That’s why despite my frequent requests to get a pet, it took me many years before I finally convinced my parents to get me a small male dog that I named Byron.
A very serious accident I had when I was about 10 years old was actually the reason that my parents eventually got me that dog. If it hadn’t been for that accident, Byron most probably would have never have been such a good friend and support to me.
Byron grew very old and is unfortunately no longer alive, but still lives in my heart and inside my mind. That dog had a tremendous impact in my life. Ok, all you animal lovers know well the impact that your pet can have in your life, but can the same sense of security and love of your furry friend be really transferred into therapy? In my case I am 100% convinced that it did happen. It all really started when I was unfortunate enough to be hit by a car outsider school one day.
I was carelessly rushing back home after school one Friday evening, that I crossed the road without looking and was unfortunately hit by a car. I was the one entirely responsible for the accident and I thank God that I am alive today and the man that hit me did not go to prison because of my carelessness. It was really a very serious accident and I was lucky to stay alive after the impact and also not be left with some serious health issues for the rest of my life.
On the other hand, I had a really tough time recovering. I was actually forced to stay in hospital for more than a month and several more months in bed at home after that, for my broken bones and injuries to heal, before I was allowed to return to my normal habits and activities as a child.
I think I would have really gone crazy at that point if Byron would not keep me company and show me affection. It was really a playful little puppy, but despite the fact that he was so young, he seemed to fully understand the situation I was into. I swear that he tried hard to cheer me up. That was a very difficult period for me. I was devastated not only by the fact that I couldn’t get out of bed for several weeks, and because of the physical pain I felt, but also psychologically by the fact the I was alone most of the day, with only that puppy to keep me company.
Animal Assisted Therapy
When I grew up I learnt about the pets health benefits to humans. I read about Animal Assisted Therapy, that brings together animals and people in order to accelerate recovery from a disease. There have been various studies from researchers all around the world that the presence of animals can reinforce traditional medicine and is greatly useful, since it has proven results. In fact, hospitals, institutes, pediatric clinics and mental institutions use Animal Assisted Therapy with great results. I am totally convinced that this was true in my case.
The potential of animals as therapy is concerned, was first recognized in the late 19th century. It was then observed by scientists that small pets help humans reduce their anxiety. This is why they were used in psychiatric institutions with great results. Subsequently Animal Assisted Therapy evolved as a treatment for anxiety in children and adults and also as a good way to relax. Even Sigmund Feud, the “father of psychoanalysis” was a supporter of Animal Assisted Therapy. In fact, he began using his dog Jofi during his sessions with patients and found out that the dog helped them relieve tension and make them speak more comfortably about themselves and their problems.
Nowadays, many psychiatrists are in favor of using pets as a treatment or as a supplement to a treatment. In fact, people experiencing difficult situations like psychological stress, rejection, divorce, business failures, traumatic stress are advised by many professionals to get a pet, in order to handle those situations better and eventually feel less unpleasant emotions or even strengthen the defense of their organism.
For lonely people and those who feel “trapped” in their problems the existence of a pet helps them to externalize feelings and thoughts more easily, making them to better withstand their emotional pain.
A give and take relationship
Already there is a large number of clinical areas where actual benefits have been observed with Animal Assisted Therapy. These include both psychological and physical areas, but still further exploration and evidence is required. Nevertheless, using animals as a therapy is becoming more widely recognized and respected as we better understand the mechanisms behind it.
On the other hand, we should not forget that animals give their love generously, without asking for anything in return. This fact relaxes the tension in both our soul and body, boosts our self-esteem and furthermore helps us express our feelings and thoughts. Animals do not discriminate. They love us all exactly as we are. They don’t really care if their boss has a perfect body, a beautiful face, if he is healthy, disabled or not, if he is intelligent or not.
The contrary is true, judging from my personal experience with Byron. Animals can sense our emotional and physical pain, our insecurity and lack of confidence and they want to make us feel better. Let’s learn to love them and offer them the slightest thing they require from us: some love and respect…