How animals can help

In my last blog, I wrote about the issue of touch.  About how uncomfortable it used to make me feel and how I mostly needed to find the right people to hug.  This blog, I want to share with you some more techniques that have helped me find touching and being touched easier.

First of all, establishing boundaries is very important.  Decide where you are and art NOT comfortable being touched, and stick to those limits.  It all goes back to establishing your boundaries, that I wrote about in an earlier blog.

Establishing and sticking to boundaries is one way to become more comfortable with the issue of touch.  But there’s also another way; a cuddly, fluffy, bundle of fun way.

That’s right, I’m talking about animals.  There are times when I don’t know what I would do without my parents’ black lab/german shepherd mix.  His name is Blue.  He is an enormous dog, weighing almost 100 lbs, but is the sweetest, biggest baby who is even scared of thunderstorms!  When I had my knee surgery, Blue never left my side.  When I felt lonely, Blue was always willing to cuddle.

And did you know that petting an animal can lower stress?  And help manage cholesterol?  And help Autistic people get in touch with their senses?  Owning a pet can be a wonderful, life-altering thing.  Check out Web MD’s slideshow called “27 ways Pets can Improve Your Health”  for more details.

For me, I’ve found that petting a dog, and having to play with a dog and care for one, has helped open up my heart.  It has made me more vulnerable and more open.  And simply through the act of petting, I have become more comfortable with the act of touch.

So if you are feeling lonely, feeling repressed, depressed, unhealthy, or unable to open up…get a pet!  Rescue one from the local animal shelter, and save two lives! (yours AND the pet’s I mean).

Or, if you can’t have/aren’t ready to own a pet, there are also wonderful Equine Therapy Programs available.  If you are tired of traditional talk therapy, or feel that nothing else is working, or even just want to try something new, Equine Therapy can be a wonderful outlet for healing.  My sister, who has experienced abuse and trauma as well, has worked with horses for years now, and admits that it is the only way she has been able to open up, connect with people, and find peace with herself.

Animals are willing and able to help.  All it takes is a little love, a little exercise, and a little food, and they will give us lots of love in return.

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