Hey there folks Dremulf here, well J anyway, I fell behind and asked Brian to help me out so he’s been doing most of the posting lately. Felt I should get my butt moving and get a good post out of my own!
Today I would like to talk about all the different kinds of Service, Emotional Support, and therapy animals!
Dogs are of course a classic, they come in a number sizes and temperaments, which means almost anyone can find one to fit their lifestyle and needs.
Ponies and Mini Horses are also quite popular, as they are smart enough to do most of the things dogs can, and have lips that let them do some things dogs can’t. Dogs can bite a pencil and bring it to you, but a horse or pony can use their lips and make marks on the paper. Some horses have even been taught to write simple words! They can also wear special diapers, and be taught to open doors and drawers with just their lips, no rope or towel needed.
Rabbits, Rats, and even Mice can be therapy and ES animals! Rabbits are well known for their calm demeanors and soft fur, and their tendency to cuddle into the crook of your arm. But did you know Rats have been trained to do a number of amazing jobs to help people! Rats, like dogs, can detect cancer cells under the skin! They can also sniff out landmines without setting them off! Rats also have personalities like dogs. Some are sweet and loving to everyone they meet, others only like their owners. Mice are small, and are great for people who are afraid of larger animals. Despite popular belief, the human ‘fear of mice’ is actually a human fear of HURTING them! Our natural instincts make us fear for the safety of small animals. In Japan, before the Tsunami, Scientists and animal trainers were teaching rats and mice to search out humans in collapsed buildings!!
Goats. This one might seem a little weird, when you think of goats, you think of these weird animals with rectangle pupils, big horns, and an appetite for anything that will fit in their mouths. But goats are REALLY SMART! There are people working to train goats to do the same things a service dog does. Goats can also be used for protection! A goat will naturally defend its ‘herd’ and the land its herd lives on. Now not all goats will be aggressive. My mother has a goat named Lilla who likes to get out of her pen (still not sure how she does it) and follow random people, she doesn’t go far, but it has scared some people.
Llamas and Alpacas can also work as therapy animals. They are capable of being very sweet tempered animals (llamas can be aggressive if not neutered so don’t just pick up a random llama and take it home. they also get big, like 300 lbs sometimes.) Both animals are also dual purpose, as their fur is high quality and often used for knitting and other yarn based hobbies.
Foxes. Yes Foxes. those cute little, itty bitty red and white critters. Who also like to murder entire flocks of chickens, steal cats and kittens right off your porch and walk right up to you looking for food ins some places. The Foxes that I am referring to are NOT WILD FOXES. The increasingly popular ‘Domesticated’ Fox, hailing from a behavioral research centre in Russia. They are actually the result of a domestication experiment to see how many generations it would have taken ancient man to domesticate the ancestors of our favorite modern day canid. The foxes that are being sold are EXTREMELY expensive, running upwards of $3000 American for the animal, not counting transport costs, permits, and the modifications you need on your home to keep them safe and happy. Zoro, a very special fox from this program is being used to teach kids about wildlife and respect for nature. While some might say a wild fox raised in captivity would be better for this job, it is actually safer to use Zoro.
Parakeets, cockatiels, and finches. In some long term care facilities (such as retirement homes and adult living centers) keep small, friendly birds as a way to brighten their patients days. The bright colors and happy tweeting has proven very successful at improving mood among terminally ill patients.
Cats. Keep in mind this list is not in any order lol, cats are very popular as therapy animals. They are a common sight to behold in nursing homes and in some countries, are even left to roam grade school hall ways and classrooms!
Fish. What is more soothing than watching a clean fishtank filled with colorful little swimmers lazily moving from side to side? Its a very common tactic in medical offices of all kinds, in an effort to reduce stress.
Full Size Horses and Donkeys. These animals are used with a lot of special needs children and adults. Who hasn’t heard of a ‘Horse Feathers’ type program, where kids with various mental disabilities ride horses and work with them, in an effort to increase their social skills?
Dolphin. Our lovable, ocean going counterparts (dolphins are thought by many to be equal to humans in terms of intelligence). A common practice in some countries where these animals are loved is to have people with physical disabilities go into the water with them. The dolphins will help the disabled people to swim in the water, and in some cases these are completely wild dolphins doing it!
Many scientists and philosophers say that what makes us human is our ability to sympathize with animals of another species. So by that definition, dogs, elephants, dolphins and so many others are ‘human’. I’m not going to argue about sentience and sapience, I simply don’t have the time, and I’m pretty sure that even if its huge, WordPress has a character limit on these blog posts.
Have you seen or heard of a Service, Therapy or Emotional Support animal not listed on here? please comment with a story about them!