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The Power of a Pet
Photo: Studiomill
Aunt Alfreda is an elderly woman who has spent her life in active service to family, friends, patients, neighbors, and church. As she is aging, however, she is becoming mentally confused with lapses in memory. These life transitions are difficult, especially for people like Aunt Alfreda who have not only been self-reliant, but have taken care of others.

Recently, we invited Aunt Alfreda to our home for lunch. I didn't know how it would go and whether she would realize where she was or who we were. But I was very pleased when I saw just how positive the whole visit went. While she did have to ask a couple of things more than once, what really “brought her back” to the Aunt Alfreda we know is when our kitten Lucky entered the room.

Lucky is a calico that my husband brought home from work. Apparently, she had been abandoned. We have grown very attached to her and she to us. As we sat in the living room, Lucky began to entertain by doing all the things that kittens do. First she would jump at a toy that was offered her. Then she would burrow her head into a blanket for a brief rest before once again leaping into action.

Sense of Joy

Aunt Alfreda watched intently and commented on Lucky's every move, smiling and saying how fascinating it is to watch animals and their instincts. We discussed how obvious it is to see God's creation even in curious little kittens. The more time Alfreda spent with Lucky, the more she seemed like the Aunt Alfreda we have always known. She seemed to be covered with a sense of joy. I couldn't help noticing an aura of youth come over her as well.

Aunt Alfreda's response is actually quite typical of people who receive pet therapy. Pets are often used by facilities and organizations to help bring healing to the sick, comfort to the elderly, hope to cancer patients, peace to veterans with post-traumatic stress, and simply companionship to anyone who may be depressed or grieving. I was inspired enough by what I saw that I am planning to look into volunteering. If my children were still in the home, I would definitely involve them as well.

Pet therapy is beneficial for the volunteer as well as for the patient. If you have a pet that you feel might be a candidate for pet therapy, why not look into becoming involved? Or perhaps you are the one who is in need of receiving visits. Either way, for more information about becoming involved in pet therapy, you may visit www.petpartners.org. Pets bring us so much joy. Why not spread it around?

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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