On Pet Therapy

On Pet Therapy

©2009 Kimberly M. Hartfield, B.S., M.S.

            Owning a pet can be particularly therapeutic to those who are lonely and depressed, especially the elderly or those who have suffered recent losses.  Many different kinds of pets can bring joy and love into the lives of those who need them most.  You might think of dogs and cats first, but other pets like bunny rabbits, gerbils or other rodents, doves, and other birds, and even fish are great pets to give someone who needs a soul mate.  People want to be needed and loved, so when the care of a pet is their responsibility, they tend to take better care of themselves so that they can take care of the pet they love.

Stroking an animal, such as a dog, bunny, or cat, has been shown to lower the blood pressure of the animals’ elderly owners.  Looking at goldfish swim, or hearing a bird tweet can bring a little bit of the outdoors inside for those who are shut in.  Even those people who aren’t able to care for a pet themselves can be visited by pets frequently to bring love and joy into their lives.  Children who have suffered losses from death or divorce can also benefit therapeutically from owning a pet of their own.  Even if they’ve never had one before, a new pet soon after the loss, can do wonders to lift their spirits nearly to their prior state of being.

Dogs and cats are usually the first choice for a therapeutic pet, and usually fit the need perfectly.  Dogs can encourage a person to get out and walk a little, but cats are better for those who are necessarily more sedentary.  A rescued pound pet can serve two purposes at once, save the pet from certain death, and bring lots of love into someone’s life.

Doves are a good bird for therapeutic purposes, as they are fairly quiet, but make a beautiful cooing sound on occasion.  They are very gentle and are a beautiful bird to watch and play with.  The cages are fairly easy to clean and other than that, just keeping them fed, and watered is the only care they need.  A pair of doves takes a bit more effort, but they are generally easy to care for and will brighten the days of anyone needing a boost in their spirit.

Gerbils are a fun rodent and one of the cleanest of all the pet rodents.  This furry little critter will make a wonderful therapeutic pet for someone who is clearly down in the dumps.  Their exciting antics will put a smile on even the most melancholy face.  Though gerbils have been traditionally a child’s pet, they can also make a great little companion to the elderly, who may not have room for a large pet. Most apartments and assisted living homes won’t deny a small pet in a closed cage.

Goldfish are one of the easiest and least expensive pets a person can own, but one of the most restful sights old eyes can see.  Just watching them swim gracefully around a tank for a few minutes a day can help soothe the heartaches of a lifetime and bring a little joy back to those who can’t get around so easily anymore.  They are also a good pet for those who can’t have a dog or a cat in an apartment or assisted living home.

Just about any kind of animal can be used therapeutically to brighten someone’s days, given the right match.  Think about how active the person is likely to be, and whether or not they are able to increase their activities, should they be given a pet that requires it.  Also think about whether or not allergies may be a problem, and if so, you may want to decide on something with less hair. Gerbils, and sometimes bunnies, are particularly good for those children who have allergies to the traditional pets.  You also may want to consider upkeep and if the person will need help with keeping the pet clean, fed, and watered.  In any case, some kind of pet can be matched with almost anyone who needs a cheerful friend to keep them company.


About mamaheartfilled

I am a mother of eight wonderfully challenging children and nine grandkids, of whom I am very proud. I am also a bi-vocational ordained evangelical minister, and a Christian Counselor. I received my B.S. degree in 2004, studying primarily in the areas of Psychology, with minors in Religion and English. I received my Masters Degree in 2009 in Psychological Counseling with an emphasis in Christian Counseling. I have endeavored to paraphrase the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, for the last ten years or so and am working on a final edit, now. It is my hope that it will be of some use in the great commission of Christ. My ministry is primarily geared toward victims of sexual and domestic violence, including victims of childhood sexual abuse, whether currently or in the past. Since I have personally experienced the healing hand of God in overcoming many of the life issues that Christians may face, I feel qualified and compelled to discuss them in a truthful and open manner, as God’s word tells us that “We shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.” God has brought me through such diverse tribulations as sexual, physical, and mental abuse, being a victim of a drunk driving accident, spousal pornography addiction, adultery, divorce, remarriage, a very brief, though unjust, incarceration, and having experienced multiple miscarriages and various other trials. I have been asked to leave two Southern Baptist Churches, due to my being a female, ordained as a minister, and fired from a SBC sponsored Christian School (mostly white) for speaking out against racial prejudice in the Family of God. Through God’s merciful forgiveness of my own sins and inadequacies and God’s grace given to me to forgive those who have been a stumbling block to me, I have overcome many of these adversities. God’s word tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to the purposes of God." Since I have this hope, I believe that God has blessed me with the ability to confront and relate these issues to the Christian community around the world. I hope to be able to use my personal experiences as a ministry of God’s grace and in the comforting of the people of God with the truth of God's mercy. I claim II Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 as my calling, which states: “Blessed be God, the Origin of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Origin of mercies, and the God of comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, by the comfort we ourselves have been given by God.” As I have received the gift of God’s healing, I hope to be able to bring the peace beyond understanding to others with the message of God’s mercy and grace. My love for the Sovereign Lord of my life, Jesus Christ, along with my passion for writing has drawn me to explore these commonly experienced crisis issues from the perspective of my own experience in the hope that I may bring an empathetic and compassionate insight to God’s people. I am now a published author and have several books in publication, including my autobiography, "A Little Redneck Theology." The views expressed in my writings are strictly my own insights, acquired from personal experience and diligent study of the related topics and God’s word concerning them. Though I am an ordained minister, my views should not be considered authoritative. I believe that the Christian community’s ultimate authority is the guidance of the human heart by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
This entry was posted in counseling, Home and Garden, Pets and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On Pet Therapy

  1. Pingback: I Love my Bunny and Some Bunny Loves Me | Go Fish Ministries, Inc

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