How Pets Can Give Back To Those in Need

How Pets Can Give Back To Those in Need

Those who follow Telluride Inside… and Out know we support Second Chance Humane Society with weekly posts that tell their stories and showcase pets in need of forever homes. Among those narratives there have been several about the unique human-animal bond, including one we published a few years ago that included the following: 

“There is more to the relationship that we enjoy with our household pets than a sentimental connection with a critter who seems to love us despite our faults. Our relationship to our animal companions is deep and powerful – something very profound – and it is important for us to be aware of it even if we will never entirely understand it.

“These friends of ours have the potential to bring out the best in us. They hold up a mirror to us that, if we are willing to look, tells us what kind of a person we are as opposed to who we would like to believe that we are. If you want honest feedback about yourself, look to your dog or your cat.  So how does this work? More here.

Now this story by Alison Ashton writing for Cooking Light with a similar through line about how animal-assisted therapy benefits people – and the pets they love. That unique bond again.

Image, Na Kim, courtesy Cooking Light.

We all know the comfort that our pets bring, but their special ability to heal what ails us goes beyond our own homes. David E. Williams, MD, was working in the emergency room at a busy Washington, D.C., hospital when he spotted a woman with her golden retriever. “She was bringing it around to the patients’ rooms as they were waiting for care,” he recalls. “She was part of an organization called Pet Partners, and this animal was there to help calm the patients.”

He was so impressed by this “animal-assisted therapy,” or AAT, that he and his daughter Lauren, now 16, got one of their own dogs certified by Pet Partners. “Animals have both a therapeutic benefit—they help heal—and a social benefit—they make us feel better,” says Williams, who’s now Pet Partners’ chief medical officer. “In a hospital setting, they help decrease stress levels and people’s perception of pain and increase people’s perception of well-being.”

Pet Partners offers certification programs for nine types of animals—dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, miniature pigs, and birds—but dogs are the most common AAT pets. “They’re unique in the animal kingdom in that they’re one species that has been genetically bred to be a human companion,” says Williams. “And dogs mirror our emotions, so they’re perfect vessels for our empathy.”

Whatever the type of animal, the key is having a calm temperament. Certification programs like Pet Partners provide intensive training and evaluation for animals and their handlers to ensure both can handle most any situation, from unexpected noises in a hospital to a cranky patient.

Today, research is finding therapeutic benefits for animals in a wide variety of settings, from counseling breast cancer patients and easing the stress of chemotherapy to engaging elderly residents in long-term care facilities and providing emotional support for people with autism. AAT teams routinely visit pediatric wards to cheer up young patients…

Continue reading here.

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