Sahba Naderi | Philanthropy

Sahba Naderi is a committed philanthropist

Tag: Animals

The Mutually Beneficial Relationships of Pet and Child

In the 1970s, registered nurse Elaine Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits  from a chaplain and his golden retriever, and started a program for training dogs to visit patients suffering from various mental issues ranging from autism to PTSD. But, people have been reaping the benefits of pets long before this; indeed, humans have been domesticating animals for at least 12,000 years. There are plenty of benefits for a child to grow up with pets. Here are a few that I read about on the Huffington Post:

They offer unconditional love: Pets are non-judgmental and offer companionship for children, especially for those that are lonely or suffering from distress. Pets can comfort, give support, and listen without judgement. 

They can teach children they don’t have to take out their problems on others: Children sometimes become bullies if they don’t have a safe space to share their emotions, and can project them onto other children.  Yet pets love your children no matter what they say, giving them a confidant.  

They can teach empathy: Caring for a pet that’s so 100% dependent upon you teaches a child empathy as they learn to read the needs of their ward.  It’s a skill that can be taught, and which bullies often lack.  

They can teach confidence and responsibility: The responsibility of caring for a pet can help give children confidence; children as young as three can fill a pet’s food and water bowls, and as they get older they can groom and walk their pets as well.

They can help socialize children: Pets don’t just offer children social and emotional support, but also cognitive language skills to support children. That’s why you see children chatting away with pets; their simple presence offers a verbal stimulus to help your child practice socialize and talking. This can be especially beneficial for children with special needs, as they may struggle to socialize with other people. Having an outlet like a pet can help them overcome the challenges of a disability.

They can be therapeutic for children: Studies have shown how pets can lower blood pressure, speed up recovery time, and reduce stress and anxiety. Children with mental issues can immediately relate, since they sense that animals are unconditional in their love and affection.

The Role of Animals in Therapy

Considered a form of alternative medicine, Animal Assisted Therapy is becoming much more widely accepted in today’s world. Animals as therapeutic tools can be greatly beneficial for patients suffering from all kinds of illnesses. Children with congenital diseases, senior citizens with poor sight, hearing, or mobility, and even those with special needs can all find relief in a certifiably trained animal.

It is no secret that our pets make us happy. The pure joy expressed by dogs, the love we receive from cats, and the general appreciation for life possessed by most animals is infectious. That boost in mood can actually have a bigger impact than you think. More and more research is being done connecting improved health with the introduction of animals.

There is a difference between Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Activities, however. The therapy aspect deals with assisting those recovering from injuries or dealing with severe health problems, while those partaking in activities are typically for a much more general purpose i.e. keeping senior citizens company and providing enjoyment.

Animal therapy has the capabilities of greatly reducing pain, depression, or anxiety for people dealing with all types of health complications. One of the most common animals to become a certified therapy animal are dogs, and they have been doing so since the early recordings of history. However, not until 1976 did a program come about recognizing this new form of therapy, when Elaine Smith founded Therapy Dogs International, providing those in need with canine assistance regardless of the health complication one might be dealing with.

Alongside a trained handler, therapy animals of all sorts visit hospitals, retirement communities, and more to offer relief in all forms. Cats, horses, rabbits, and even birds are common animals used for therapeutic reasons as well, all of which can be trained to comfort those in distress. Military veterans suffering from PTSD or physical disabilities are another demographic that benefit greatly from this form of alternative medicine, as it can greatly improve psychological treatments.

While many people argue that Animal Assisted Therapy is nothing more than a distraction from one’s pain or health issues, there is no denying that actual results have been recorded from several studies. For those with terminal illnesses, there may be no better way to boost their moods than to introduce an animal dedicated to spreading love.

How You Can Help Local Wildlife

There are a large number of species currently considered endangered at the moment, and a fair amount on the brink of extinction. From elephants, to gorillas, to the black rhinoceros, all of these animals need our help if they are to survive, and hopefully, reproduce enough to become self-sustaining once again.

While journeying to the country of origin of the animal that you wish to help can be a truly rewarding experience, it can be difficult, and expensive. Rather, there are a number of simple strategies you can implement to do your part right at home.

Educate yourself

Learn about any endangered species in your area, and promote that education throughout your community. The more friends and family members know about the dire situation these species face, the more likely they are to do their parts. Understand how this wildlife plays a part in your community rather than just the anesthetic reasons. Plants and animals alike often play great roles in their local areas including the control of other population sizes, clean air and water, and commercial benefits.

Modify your home

Many wild animals are attracted to houses in their communities due to easily controllable factors. To prevent them from developing a dependency on human resources and becoming comfortable around humans in general, properly secure any garbage cans you have, feed pets indoors, and avoid feeding any yourself. The reason being, wild animals that regularly visit residential neighborhoods looking for food can pose as dangerous, increase their chance of being hit by cars, and may also begin to starve without the help of human-produced food.

Another great way to help out your local wildlife (birds specifically) is to place decals on your windows. An astonishing 988 million birds die every year due to window collisions, simply by misjudging the distance or not seeing the glass at all. By placing decals or stickers on a window that clearly indicate its distance, you can prevent this number from rising.

Be eco-friendly

Regular maintenance on your home garden and yard can help it maintain its visual appeal, but using herbicides and pesticides are hazardous on many levels. Beginning at one of the smallest levels of the food chain, insects and rodents that may eat these poisoned plants can lead to poisoning their predators i.e. foxes, hawks, owls, etc. The effects are damaging and long lasting. Instead, try attracting native bees and butterflies to pollinate your plants and flowers. By doing so, local plants will flourish, and invasive species are not introduced, which cause increased levels of competition for resources, promoting the extinction of native wildlife.

Drive slowly

A simple but effective strategy; slowing down when driving in wooded areas or communities in general allows you prepare for any sudden animal running across the street. Many species live in developed areas that introduced roads and neighborhoods right in the middle of their homes. This forces them to navigate a hazardous terrain on a daily basis. By driving slowly, you allow both yourself and the local animals to go about their ways safely.

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