Animal therapy has been growing in popularity in recent years. Certified programs around the globe are bringing well-trained animals to specific groups in hopes of relieving stress and improving well-being.
Dogs and cats are often found mingling with students at university campuses or providing comfort to residents in care homes.
Just hearing about these stories can be enough to brighten your day even if you didn’t meet the little fur-balls yourself. Although, these animals are not all “little” — and they’re not all furry!
There are several types of animal therapies, but the main goal is for the animal to help an individual or group deal with a health issue they have. That’s why we’re starting to see all kinds of species join the cause; different methods work for different people. When it comes to group visits, the volunteers can help with stress as mentioned above, but they can also stimulate memory and fight depression, schizophrenia, and addictions. We’ve collected five stories about real-life, animal heroes (many of which may surprise you) so you can share the heart-warming feeling.
#1: Diablo the Miniature Horse
A horse may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a visiting therapy animal just because of its sheer size; so we’re glad Diablo can waltz through the doors of Willow Creek Continuing Care Centre. Many of the residents farmed for a living before retirement, so seeing a familiar animal helps stir old memories and lights smiles all around.
#2: The Devoted Dogs of St. John’s Ambulance
Since 1992, St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dogs have been comforting people through visits to hospitals, schools, care facilities, and more. Here’s a recent news story about their entrance into Ottawa International Airport!
#3: Lilou the Pig
She’s been on magazine covers, has an Instagram page, and can play piano (a small, toy one, anyway). Lilou is another perfect example of an unexpected but charming airport welcome.
#4: Rojo the Therapy Llama
Oh, yes! Llamas can be therapy animals too. Take Rojo for example, who has just retired after a 12-year long career of producing smiles and happiness.
#5: “Flirt Like Fernando” the Turkey
I know what you’re thinking: “OK, now you’re just messing with us.” Nope! Meet Fernando the therapy turkey from Anola, Manitoba. He’s quite the character!
We love hearing about all the creative ways people manage stress. Whether you participate in an animal therapy program or have a daily soak in your accessible bath tub, keep on taking care of yourself. You deserve it!