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The Healing Power of Animals
It is safe to say that most pet owners feel a special bond with their animal companions. They are always there to comfort you, listen to you, and console you when you are down. However, their ability to help people goes much further than emotional support. There are multiple cases where pets have helped people with physical ailments such as dogs detecting cancer and seizures. Animals have also been shown to help people cope with emotional troubles like depression, and pets have improved the quality of life for people in nursing homes. Several medical reports have credited animals with other positive effects on people’s lives such as:
  • Lowering blood pressure and stress for every day people 
  • Helping people cope with the loss of a loved one and other major life changes
  •  Better communication in marriages
  • Service animals like seeing-eye dogs help people disabilities live normal lives
  • Helping people cope with cancer, Alzheimer’s and AIDS
  • Higher survival rates for people with coronary heart disease
  • Better socialization of young children with peers and development of nurturing behavior.
  • Giving a sense of constancy to foster children
  • Improving results for anxious and depressed people
  • Therapeutic horse back riding has helped improve balance, posture, mobility, language, and muscle coordination
  • Helping facilitate social interactions between strangers and improving social behavior for mentally impaired people and prisoners.
  • More recreational activity such as dog walking

There are many remarkable stories of animals that heal people. For example, there is the story of Cheyenne, a wolf that has been visited by over 20,000 people seeking help to overcome emotional and physical problems. Her caretaker, Mark Johnson, says she’s been doing therapy since she was 3 months old, and she doesn’t heal people, but rather acts as a catalyst for people to heal themselves. Cheyenne does not bond with every person that visits her, but she has bonded with over 1500 people who received her healing kisses. She has detected cancer in several visitors and has helped numerous people overcome emotional concerns. Cheyenne is partial to women and children, but there is one diabetic man who credits her with helping him get over his self pity and once again hike the trail on which he had previously lost his toes due to frostbite.

Many animals from dogs and cats to rabbits, llamas, dolphins, and horses have played a role in the healing process. Not all animals heal people completely, but they do help boost people’s attitudes and encourage them to live their life to the fullest. A recent estimate of pet owners in the United States shows that about 55 million people have dogs and about 60 million have cats. Animal companions become important family members for both people living alone and people with children and spouses. There are even many homeless people who take in a stray animal to care for. Animal serve as nurtures in our busy society, giving us the attention and contact we need. Let’s not forget the true meaning of “pet” is to touch or caress. 
Source: Delta Society (www.deltasociety.org)

 
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