“Animals are like little angels, sent to earth to teach us how to love. They don’t get angry or play silly games. They are always there for us.” Whitney Mandel
I’m a cat lover and Maisie, my black and white moggie is important to me. If you’re an animal lover you know how good it is interacting with your pet, far less threatening than with human beings! Petting an animal causes the release of endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters) which have an extremely positive impact on one’s health and wellbeing.
Recently wearing my Lady Taverners “hat” (I’m President of the charity’s Surrey region) I had the privilege of assisting 15 youngsters with physical and mental disabilities, (accompanied by their carers) from 2 special Surrey schools, when they visited a Farm Park in Surrey. Encouraged by the delightful Bockett’s Farm staff they got up close and personal to many farm animals and it was a joy to watch their excitement and happiness. Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy involving animals as a form of treatment. If we see animals at rest or in a peaceful state, this can signal to us safety, security and feelings of well-being. The simple act of stroking a pet can lower blood pressure reducing physical as well as emotional stress. Just watching fish is known to reduce stress (think of all those tanks in dental or medical waiting rooms!)
It was a joy to watch our young people, many unable to speak, as they cuddled small rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, while others petted the donkeys, goats and lamas. They were beside themselves with excitement to ride in the farms tractor trailer, but the highlight of the day was to cheer on their favourite in the Pigs Race! The power of pets and farm animals is becoming a vital tool in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions and disorders for both young and old alike. Particularly those associated with mental health, helping to improve social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. Although some domestic pets may transmit disease or inflict injury, a friendly pet can help many physical and mental issues. Companion animals, in addition to their well-known role as helpers to the handicapped, can help alleviate depression and loneliness and ease the social pain of aging in our society. “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms” George Eliot