A Blog by Charlotte from Y&H Involvement Network
We always hear mention of animals at our Network Round Robins; from Armadillos to Racehorses and everything in between! We love animals here at the Yorkshire and Humber Involvement Network and hearing stories of how pat dogs, pet guinea pigs and other furry (or not) friends bring you happiness and joy.
It got me curious as to the other benefits of having animals around (and yes, there are some cons, but I am choosing to ignore these in my completely biased animal appreciation blog post!)
Here are some…
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
- Improved confidence and self esteem
- Increased physical activity
- Lower blood pressure
- Feeling accepted
- Improved social skills
“Pet therapy touches humans psychologically, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. These pets provide healing for any and every part of you that is hurting” pawsforpeople.org
No excuses for not having animal visits in my eyes! Pat dogs for all… whoop.
I was also intrigued by the origins of pet therapy and googled away and according to this story I found it began with none other than a YORKSHIRE terrier…
Smoky was a 4 lb, 7 inch tall, Yorkshire Terrier who served in World War II. In 1944 Smoky was found in a foxhole in the jungles of New Guinea by an American soldier. For the next 2 years Smoky lived a soldiers life. Because she was not an official military dog, she did not get dog food or medical care. She shared the soldiers meals and slept beside him in his tent.
Smoky flew 12 air/sea rescue missions in the soldiers backpack. She survived 150 air raids and saved the soldier by warning him of incoming shells. After the war Smoky was flown back to the US hidden in a oxygen mask case.
For the next 10 years she made appearances in Veterans hospitals until her death in 1957. Smoky is considered the first Therapy Dog.
The internet cannot always be believed however and there are other stories of how animal therapy began, Therapy Dogs For Depression & Anxiety – Alliance Of Therapy Dogs tells us a about a history dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks! And how Sigmund Freud used his own dog to help people with anxiety.
Some of my favourite up to date animal stories about animals and how they help people come from the Pitbull’s and Parolees programme, the Villalobos rescue centre helps rescue dogs who are abandoned find new homes, whilst fighting stigma against a very misunderstood breed. They also offer jobs at the rescue to Parolees, people who have been through the prison system who no one will take a chance on. You can catch a clip here, hope you enjoy:
We would love to hear more about your amazing pet projects, animal visits, pat lizards, in-service animals, fond pet memories or see your cute pictures! I am more than happy for recommendations of new animal programmes I can watch too!
Whether animal therapy was started by a Yorkshire terrier is up for debate, the benefits of animals on health, not so much. And in Yorkshire and Humber we certainly do appreciate them all!