The fact that animals feel our pain, our joy, and our stress should come as no surprise for anyone who has a pet. Whether we recognize it or not, the emotional as well as the physical environment we humans create has a direct impact on the way our pets behave. We emit energetic signals related to our deepest feelings that are picked up by those around us – especially our pets.” The emotional benefits from animals are difficult to measure, meaning that pets help humans without anyone knowing exactly why. What experts know, however, are those animals allowing humans to focus, even for a short period of time, on something other than themselves.
Animals, have shown promise for many conditions, both social and physical:
- Pets help Alzheimer’s patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer’s patient has wandered into harm’s way. “Pets can provide a measure of safety to people with the disease,” says Thomas Kirk, a vice president of a chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
- Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
- Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
- Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
- Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
- Pets are a source of expectation, hope and communication. Looking forward to a social call or getting home after time away gives that spark of anticipation all humans need to help feel alive. Pets can help start a conversation, and help one who is struggling against unusual difficulties in learning to speak for the first time or after speech impairment such as a stroke.
Animals also provide healing outside domestic settings: dolphin and pet-assisted therapy, horseback riding, farm animal and wildlife interaction, and marine life activity.
According to researches, pets are genuinely endowed with healing qualities for their owners. They are effective especially in the case of elderly people, because it seems that their greatest problem is not illness in their bodies, but solitude and all the negative feelings it may bring about. Loneliness seems to be one of man’s most upsetting things. Affection can have a curing effect on humans, not to mention the unconditional love a sweet pet may show to its master. Pets generally have a calming influence, distracting people’s attention from inner states of pain, fear, loneliness, rejection. They can also connect people who share the same love for pets