I worked in Healthcare for eight years, before making the decision to pursue a career as a Funeral Director. While serving in a Nursing Home setting, I witnessed firsthand the therapeutic effect furry friends can have on our most vulnerable. Animals never failed to cheer people up and lift their spirts. Some of the residents, who did not verbalize much, would suddenly talk all about their visit with the animals and share stories of the pets they had growing up.
Not many cats came to visit and one of our residents at the time loved cats more than I did. I brought my own cat, Misfit, in to visit with her. I do not think I ever saw her smile so much. My dog Molly loved going to visit as well. Staff and residents would always “sneak” her treats and Molly would simply sit there and let them pet her to their heart’s content.
Transitioning from work in a Nursing Home to the Funeral Home, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the therapeutic effect of animals. Funeral homes have started to incorporate therapeutic pets into their teams, in order to help grieving families wade through tough times. Animals can bring comfort and provide a calming presence during moments of decision making, helping to stave off feelings of loneliness. I know when I have a had a tough or emotional day the first thing I want to do is curl up with my cats!
Pets are the perfect ice breaker and allow us to connect with others on common ground. They open doors to new friendships, and lead to impromptu conversations with someone while out for a stroll. Animals allow us to trust and love them openly. They may well be the confidant we need, while we are the companion they require. Take time to snuggle your own pets, volunteer at a local animal shelter, or reach out to a local pet therapy group. Enrich your life with a new furry friend.