Do Animals enjoy working in therapy with people?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Animals are such wondrous beings. They have no judgement; they see us for our true selves and give nothing but unconditional love. It is no wonder that animal assisted therapies have exploded across the planet. From pet therapy dogs, to hospital resident cats, and even therapy horses for troubled youth; animals create a calm and loving atmosphere that can heal even the most wounded of people. It is equally as rewarding for the animals, or is it? Let’s find out.

Scientific evidence has proven that being around animals can dramatically reduce stress, increase self-esteem and create a calm environment for people. It is no surprise that dogs are the most popular species for animal assisted therapy. Easily trainable and eternally optimistic, they light up the room everywhere they go. One unique therapy dog making headlines is Norbert, the tiny therapy dog with millions of followers around the world. Norbert volunteers mostly with children’s hospitals and charity events, spreading smiles and love to everyone he meets. He proves that size doesn’t matter when you’re making an impact on the planet.

Dogs are not the only animals with special gifts; cats are famous for being fantastic animal therapy assistants in hospitals. With their intuitive abilities, they can sense and interpret people’s energy accurately. There was a cat named Oscar whom was a therapy cat for a nursing home on Rhode Island in the States. Oscar was famous for predicting when terminally ill patients were about to pass away. Oscar would nap with that patient, and a few hours later that patient would pass away. The staff were amazed by this cat’s abilities, that they would call the patient’s family and friends to say good-bye to their loved one whenever they saw Oscar sleeping with a patient. I believe what sets cats a part from every other animal is their confidence and assertiveness. A cat will not let you cross their boundaries; if they don’t want attention, a cat will simply walk away.

This makes cats a great therapy animal for children with behavioural disorders such as autism and ADHD. A cat will not tolerate raucous behaviour, so the child learns how to regulate their emotions and stay in a relaxed state. For example, Iris Halmshaw, is an 8 year old girl with severe autism and her Maine Coon cat Thula taught her how to relax her emotions and build her interaction with people. They are an inseparable duo, with Thula going everywhere Iris does. It truly is wonderful what the love and patience of a cat can do.

Equine assisted therapy is another area that is growing popularity. Horses are powerful healers; as prey animals, they rely on trust and respect to forge a connection with people. Horses are very sensitive to energy – if you are scattered, they are cautious, if you are calm they will be open and receiving to your presence. We have seen tremendous transformations in our horse clinics. We conduct open healing sessions in the paddock with our students sitting in a circle, and allowing the horses to work their magic. The horses created some amazing healing on several students, and Viva a beautiful mare, taught a blind student how to relax her emotions to begin an energy exchange with her. It was amazing to observe Viva responding to Erynne’s energy state – when Erynne began to feel uneasy, Viva would stand to the side of her and allow Erynne to stroke her until she went into a relaxed state. Once Erynne had reached that zone, Viva would come closer and hang her head over Erynne’s head.

Whilst the benefits are endless for people, what about the animals themselves? Do they like visiting hospitals, working with criminals or calming down autistic children? Do they enjoy the job that has been given to them? And what is in it for them?

Through my work, I have met many service and pet therapy animals. Majority of these animals love the work they do. Particularly Newton the Labrador, a therapy dog whom visited nursing homes and children’s hospitals with his person Neil. Neil came to me to find out what Newton thought of his volunteer work. Newton took his responsibility seriously, and said ‘ I can make people light up, even those who have been sad for a very long time. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming, but if I take their sadness away, at least they are happy even for a day.’ How lucky are we to be in the presence of such wondrous and selfless beings! There are animals that do like to visit, but may be overwhelmed by the heavy energy in that environment. Animals can be quite sensitive to people’s illnesses, and just like us they can feel quite drained after a visit.  There are several solutions you can try to keep your pet happy and healthy after each visit.

When visiting hospitals, nursing homes or even correctional facilities, you and your animal are a team working together. Learning to communicate with your animal telepathically and intuitively will be crucial to your success. You will be able to sense when your animal needs to move to the next person, allowing enough time for each visit whilst preventing your animal from being overwhelmed. After a consultation with me, Newton the Labrador and his person Neil developed a set of signals so Neil was always in the know when it came to Newton’s health and wellbeing in their work. Neil began meditating before he went on these visits to be more atuned and this greatly assisted with his calmness and relaxation.  With practice, you and your animal will develop your own signals too.

Whilst animals can cleanse their own energy, it is possible for your animal to take on the emotion or heaviness from people, especially if they are more needy than others. To shake off the heavy energy and regenerate, spend time outdoors after every visit. Go for a run on the beach together, running in salt water can be very cleansing for you and your animal. Or spend time together in the park lying on the grass as it is very grounding. As cats retain their boundaries a lot more than most animals, they are less likely to take on any energy from the people they visit. But you can go outside and sit in the sun with your cat. The sun’s energy will regenerate you both. As horses primarily live on the land, you will see your horse release the energy through their body such as yawning and releasing tension in their mouths. But most importantly, do something that is FUN for both of you! You may find you need the relief as much as your animal does.

Another great way to cleanse afterwards is to do a smudge cleansing for you and your animal. Using dried sage leaves bundled together, you can light the bundle and use the smoke to pass through your energetic field (aura). As you wave the smoke all around your physical body, use a leafy branch or feather to sweep the smoke downwards. This will push the smoke back into the ground, taking the residual energy with you. For your animal, you can run the smoke just over the top of their body as they walk past you. This method of cleansing will clear out any heavy energy or emotion you or your animal may be carrying from your visits and the smoke will take it back into the earth. Try not to put the smoke in their face.

There is so much we learn from our animals. Their compassion for all beings, unconditional love and non-judgement is what makes them the light of our lives. They just know what to do at the right time; allowing your animal to create that loving atmosphere for others creates an example for us all to follow. I think us humans have a lot to learn from the animals, don’t you think?

If you would like to find out if your animal companion would like to work in therapy[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

About the author 

Trisha Mc Cagh

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!