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Volunteering With Your Pet?

Pets fill our lives with love and help us see beyond external measures.  They don’t care what we look like, if we are freshly bathed the moment we hug them, or if our hair appears groomed.  They accept us “as is” and usually strive to please us.  In return, we hopefully attempt to make their lives pleasurable, as well.

Sadly, when people transfer to remedial environments such as hospitals, rehabs, nursing homes, etc., animals are usually not a part of the populace.  Yet, residents can still benefit from their company.  Some studies indicate that periodic interaction with animals reduces blood pressure, tension, restlessness, and feelings of isolation.  Animals have also been shown to increase a sense of well-being, mood, and self esteem.  The disabled, elderly, mentally ill, abused, and addicted, are all groups in which the presence of animals have demonstrated some positive benefit.

So what types of animals are therapeutically best?  Usually the smaller variety seemed favored.  Dogs, cats, birds, and even fish, tend to be easy to transport and often bring with them a type of comfort.  Dogs are especially popular because some can be quite compliant. Still, like every other living creature, dogs have different personalities (so not all will be suitable).  Animals that are well-behaved, responsive, and obedient, are typically the ones considered appropriate

Naturally, we must understand that not every human enjoys animals at the same measure.  Some individuals never particularly cared for them and probably never will.  Others have always felt an affinity for their furry, feathered, or scaled friends, and nothing will change that.  While others were once ambivalent but have come to develop an appreciation for these creatures.  It is always important to respect a person’s comfort level.

If volunteering with your pet is for you but you don’t know where to begin, perhaps call  a few nursing homes, treatments facilities, rehabs, senior centers, Alzheimer’s units, etc., to find out if there is a need.  Some facilities have an established program in place and do not need help, while others might wish to begin visits.  If you do volunteer with your pet, be certain to practice proper hygiene (frequent hand washing, paw cleaning, etc.).  Animals, as well as people, can transfer germs.

Animals often bring our better side; their intuition helps us replenish our own.  Volunteering with a pet could be just the right remedy to brighten someone’s day.  Anyway, it might be something to consider?