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It has been shown that animals are able to heal patients that suffer mentally and physically. Pet therapy, known as animal assisted therapy, is recognized as helping with treating depression and mood disorders. Being a round a pet promotes a connection and overall sense of contentment. Peter Ashenden owns a Shih Tzu, named Bella. Bella goes everywhere with hi m even board meetings and important gatherings. Peter suffers from a bipolar disorder; he accredits Bella for keeping his moods balanced and stable.

She forces him to stay active when he gets depressed and keeps from coming withdrawn from society. She provides constant companionship so he never feels alone. Researchers have found that even if you interact with an animal that does not belong o you it can ease feelings of depression. One example showed that when elderly men that was in the veterans hospital visited an aviary filled with birds their moods improved drastically. Professionals have recognized that animals provide comfort during the grieving process.

People have said that having a pet that belonged to a loved one that passed away provides an on going connection. One patient stated that her and her husband had a cat; since her husband died the cat has been very attentive to her. When she is feeling down the cat will come and sits on her lap as if the cat knows she needs consoling. At Krause Funeral home you can grab some tissues for your tears or have Oliver the therapy dog sit at your feet. Oliver is able to sense when people are upset and he will go to them and lean against or lay at there feet to offer comfort.

Mourners automatically start petting the dog and talking to him. Many times he has helped children open up and talk about their grief and licked away their tears. Over 300,000 veterans have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. They suffer from symptoms, such as, fear, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. They often feel isolated and withdrawn. They turn away from the friends and family and turn to substance abuse to cope. Organizations like, Paws for Purple Hearts, have been created to help veterans who are afflicted by PTSD.

Researchers are finding that bonding with animals creates biological effects such as elevated levels of the hormone oxytocin. This hormone improves the ability trust, recognize facial expressions and overcome paranoia. It has been found that distress from PTSD has been reduced when a patient has an animal by 82%. Programs that assist vets with finding the perfect companion are free of charge. Many of the animals provided are from rescue facilities. For nearly 40 years U. S. Marine Corps Sgt. E5 Harold Fake has lived with the constant reminder of war in his mind.

He has tried pills, alcohol and even trying to take his own life but nothing had worked. He struggles with leaving his home and dealing with crowds. Even midday grocery shopping can be excruciating. Fake received a service dog to help him cope with his emotional struggles. Fake credits his dog, Lakota, in helping cope with the stresses of daily life. The relationship between Fake and Lakota is part of Fakes treatment. Treatments dogs for soldiers have been trained to wake them from nightmares, switch on lights and remind the patient to take their medication.

Dogs seem to know their owners feelings and are in tune with them. Many veterans tend to relive their missions over and over in their minds and can cause harm to themselves or others. Veterans who have acted our have found themselves committed to psychiatric wards in VA hospitals. When release they are withdrawn from society. Dogs have been not only able to assist with daily routines but they provide the emotional support and unconditional love that helps veterans live a more normal life. Many veterans return home from duty having suffered from a physical injury.

These injuries often prevent them from living an easy normal life. Organizations like, Patriot Paws, have been formed to help veterans complete daily tasks that would otherwise be difficult, such as ; Getting help to emergency agencies, pick up and retrieve items, open and close doors, pull their owners wheelchair, provide a brace to walk, stand or sit down, help with chores or simply taking off their owners socks and shoes. The things we do on a daily basis and take for granted are a huge feat for someone who has a disability resulting from being in war.

Gaining popularity is providing a service dog to help children who suffer from autism. This can sometimes be difficult because you have to find the right dog to fi into the family. Because of sensory issue that children with autism suffer from, it is very important that the child is introduced to the right dog. If a child is sensitive to loud noises you would want to make sure that the dog does not bark unless it is to alert the parents or care giver. If a child is sensitive to smell then the smell of a dog could be overwhelming.

Service dogs for autistic children can also be very costly as to the amount of $10,000. Children with autism can benefit from a service dog to help calm them when they are put in a situation that overloads their sense. It can also alert the child’s parents when a child is suffering physically. Many dogs have alerted a child’s parents when they child is having a seizure or has stopped breathing. It has been shown that when an autistic child bonds with a service dog it makes it easier for them to bond with humans.

Dogs are believed to positively influence children in the areas of arousal and sensory stimulation. Many animals have been attributed to helping the blind. Capuchin monkeys have been trained to perform manual tasks such as operating switches or knobs and turned pages in a book, miniature horses can pull a persons wheelchair and dogs can lead the blind when navigating through unfamiliar territory. A service animal goes through extensive training and testing prior to being certified to help a person suffering form a disability like blindness.

A service animal is not considered a pet it is there to work for their owner even though the owner usually loves their companion. Guide dogs have been used for the blind for nearly two centuries. Most commonly used breeds are German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers. The dogs learn simple commands like forward, left and right. The dogs are taught to disobey and order if it will lead their owner into a dangerous situation. In 1999 a retired horse trainer trained her miniature horse to guide a woman around a mall.

Having other animals trained d to assist the blind is helpful in case they are llergic to dogs. Animals can have a positive effect on people who suffer from illness or disabilities. When a person is diagnosed with a disease they can often feel alone, angry, frustrated or isolated. In 2007 Karen Peyser was diagnosed with non –small cell lung cancer. She lost her right lung and had to go through 16 weeks of high doses of chemotherapy. She was scared and had little patience. She started to drive her friends and family away. Peyser accredits her labradoodle, River, in helping with her recovery. River would stay by her side and snuggle with her which gave Peyser comfort.

People who suffer from high blood pressure, anxiety, isolation or anger have all shows signs of improvement when they have an animal that loves them unconditionally. Humans have been shown to cope with everyday stresses and have often been able to for go medications. Those who suffer from physically handicaps have been able to lead a more normal life by having an animal to help them with the smallest tasks while providing a trusting, loving and loyal companion. When a human is suffering and isolates themselves form everyone they can always depend on their pet to provide consoling.

I chose this topic because as a child my mom was not always there. I myself have a love for animals and in my situation where I was sad, grieving, angry or isolated I have always wanted a pet I could depend on for unconditional love to get me through. Later in life I joined United States Air Force; I have seen first hand how service men and women have benefited from service animals. After returning from Afghanistan many soldiers suffer from mental disorders, mostly depression. Others have suffered accidents that have caused physical disabilities.

Soldiers will often resort to drug abuse or alcohol to help numb the pain. This results to them losing family, friends or sometimes even homelessness. People suffering from disease or disabilities can often relief in companionship of an animal. Not only can these animals help them with the emotional benefit of unconditional love but also with simple physical activities. The intention for this paper is to bring enlightenment to how important pets are to our healing, both emotionally and physically. With a greater understanding doctors and therapists are able to help those who suffer sometimes in silence.

Patients who have access to animals have better chance of reentering society and living a normal fulfilling life. Humans and animals have existed together throughout history as a hunter and a healer. An animal companion can bring someone back from the brink of darkness sometimes present when they feel they have no where to turn. An animal can provide the patience, love, understanding and assistance a person suffering emotionally or physically needs. With a better understanding of how animals heal more programs can be put into place to assist patients in getting an animal to assist them.

Animals that have been place in shelters can be used as service dogs in hospitals or privately. This would result in less euthanasia of animals in shelters. When finding a service animal many of the programs are free but, in some cases you may have to purchase the animal. I personally know someone who spent $10,000 on a service dog for their autistic child. The dog went through extensive training but once the dog was in their household and trying to adjust to their daily routine it did not work out with the child and the dog had to be returned.

Luckily many organizations are willing to work with the families in these situations and will find another dog better suited for the child. In conclusion, an animal can be a constant loving companion. Animals can help you when you need an emotional companion or if you need help with daily tasks. Animals can bring you comfort or make you feel safe so you can lead a more normal fulfilling life. Having my dogs and cats in my life has made me feel loved, calm and protected. I find that when I am stressed just petting my dog or cat has a way of bringing a calmness.

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