Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pet Therapy

Joni Mitchell's song Yellow Taxi has the most profound lyrics, "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot'.
Always a head of the curve Joni Mitchell spoke to the conflict in society between those who liked machines and antiseptic surfaces and those who liked life and natural fractuals.
In the therapy context this revolves around 'pet therapy'.  Naturally I don't want pigs in the operating room but all too often humans in recovery houses and nursing homes and even extended care wings of hospitals are denied live contact by some insaneity of cost effective management and a bit of parking lot mentality.
Gilbert is my pet therapist. He's a part of my office and does amazing work. I love watching my depressed patients come alive as he greets them with immense enthusiasm. My autistic patients warm to his touch and those isolated and alone find smiles with his happy presence.
He came after the fish.  All my offices for decades have had fish.  Long ago research showed that fish were calming.  I was even more pleased when I learned in a feng shui review that fish tanks attracted wealth.
My fish tank remains in the waiting room while Gilbert goes from waiting room to office and back and forth with an interesting routine. A previous pet therapist dog, Shinto was more mature when he enterred my office and learning his mannerisms  often gave further insight into patient's guarded emotional states.  Gilbert as yet seems mostly to bring happiness to all.
I left a position as consultant to an extended care facility when the administration, far removed from reality among anything, very caught up in the bottom line and other anal matters, refused to allow the nursing staff to have a cat.  I decided the writing was on the wall and that all the work we might try therapeutically was going to be against the effort of the administration to sterilize the building of all life including my own.  I much preferred working for a head injury home where cats roamed the halls with patients.
I liked that St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver has long had a pet visitor service taking dogs about the wards to visit with anyone who cares to meet the pleasant canines.
It came as no surprise to read "The vital function that pets fulfill in this world hasn't been fully recognised. They keep millions of people sane".  That's from Eckhart Tolle, author of Power of Now.  I wholly agree.   Gilbert wags his tail!IMG 0313

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