Pet therapy can help in coping with grief
Pet therapy, which is also known as Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is not new. Using animals to stimulate and calm in care homes and hospitals is quite common. Now, however, animals are also being used to help people to deal with grief. Specially trained animals can accompany mourners at funeral homes and even to the actual funeral.
What is pet therapy?
Pet therapy involves the interaction of a person with a specially trained animal accompanied by their handler. Dogs are the most commonly used animal in AAT. However, sometimes therapists use cats, ponies, lambs, or alpacas. An animal suitable for pet therapy must have a friendly temperament and a calm personality. Also, they must enjoy interacting with different people.
Caressing and interreacting with an animal can help to stimulate and motivate older people. In children, the relationship often has a more calming, centring effect which can help youngsters to concentrate and to learn. Pet therapy can also help to reduce bad behaviour and to encourage positive communication.
Some animals accompany a trained therapist who guides the interaction in the form of therapy. However, normal people can pass an assessment with their animal through Pets As Therapy to take their pets into schools, hospitals, and care homes in England. This is a great way for people who have recently lost a loved one, and who have an appropriate pet to help both themselves and others.
Pets for grief therapy
Using AAT fo grief began in the USA. Basil the Beagle became the first comfort companion in the UK in 2018. Clive Pugh Funeral Directors, located in Shropshire, was the first place to use a grief-therapy dog. Basil helps to calm and comfort people while they make the funeral arrangements at the funeral directors. The presence of Basil helps people to feel less stress and anxiety. Simply stroking him and interreacting with him, can help them to deal with the difficult process that they have to deal with.
Basil and other grief-therapy animals can also attend the funeral to support the family if requested. For children, people who have not attended a funeral previously, or for those who fear funerals, it can be a daunting moment. However, with pet therapy, people feel better able to deal with the situation. They find comfort and take strength from the simple, loyal, attention of a specially-trained dog to support them.
When a pet therapy dog attends a funeral, it is normal to post a notice so that anyone who is allergic to or afraid of dogs know. While grief-therapy dogs at funerals are still uncommon, they may become a more habitual participant as people discover the comfort and support that they can bring.