My mom was deathly afraid of dogs all of her life. She liked to say that she wasn’t afraid of anything on two legs just four. When she had a stroke and was in the nursing home they brought in a big German Shepard for “pet-assisted therapy.” Although she had difficulty speaking and couldn’t move her left side, when she saw the dog her eyes got real wide and she grabbed him by the throat.
The dog’s handler mistook this as a sign of affection. “Oh look she’s reaching out to pet him” The dog’s handler said. I didn’t say anything but I knew that my mom was trying to choke the dog.
But sometimes pets can have healing powers. I was a very sickly kid when I was in my early teens. I had real bad allergies bordering on asthma. I was taking three kinds of medicine for my symptoms and still had coughing and sneezing fits all of the time.
Then my stepfather bought me a horse. It was a big Palomino pony. Even though I was afraid to ride him at first, he soon became my best friend.
I would get up every morning and brush him down and clean out his stall before I took him for his morning ride. Then something amazing happened. The allergy symptoms started going away.
I don’t know if it was the horse or getting out in the clean, fresh air that did it, but something happened. It not only helped me physically, but I made other friends at the racetrack where we kept the horse as well.
According to the Healthy Planet Magazine: “Is your child having difficulty making friends? If so, should you be worried? Given that a child’s ability to make friends, grow friendships, and maintain friendships over time not only reflects his current psychological health but his future psychological adjustment and success as an adult, the answer is without a doubt, yes.”
If your child has difficulty forming relationships with other children of his own age, it could mean that he has some problem either physically, psychologically, or emotionally.
Assisted-pet-therapy can be of great value for a troubled child to get used to forming relationships. The pet doesn’t make fun of or scorn the child. Instead he just accepts him as he is.
As the child learns to read social clues from the animal, (usually a dog), he learns to adapt his behavior accordingly. Eventually he can apply these skills with other children.