The cuddle chemical effect….no, really.


Everything that lives, lives not alone nor for itself…

Blessed with animals in our lives…did you know there are actual health benefits? Real health benefits – lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduced stress levels, and better mental health. Attachments or bonding of any sort stimulates the limbic system; releasing the (oxytocin) “cuddle chemical” known for its role in facilitating trust and attachment. Bonding with your pet…is also associated with higher levels of vasopressin, and reduced stress and stress-related hormones. Going for a walk with a llama, bonding through the grooming process, going for a trail hike with friends, just providing everyday care encourages us to interact and to get out. We benefit from the exercise and fresh air that we may not seek out on our own. This does wonders for our health and emotions. I became acutely aware of life’s connections and the value of my beloved animals and friends this passed week. Some of us got together at Dakota Ridge Farm http://www.dakotaridgefarm.com/ to “finally” meet a new llama, to bring bring new llamas home and to connect as friends. It was a wonderful day, full of laughter, food, and sharing. A day that may not have occurred if not for the common connection and passion – Llamas ..well, animals in general really. I am still smiling.

For this I am grateful.

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Have you ever thought of sharing your favorite animal? Pet therapy is something many llama owners are involved with. You can actually see the positive health effects; both for those receiving therapy and those who bring in their animals to children’s activities and nursing homes. To see a nursing home patient light up when they see you and your llama or dog come through the door is an unforgettable experience. You may hear heartfelt stories of patients who haven’t interacted with or spoken for awhile- open up, relaxes, talking with, and interacts with a new friend…your animal. What a beautiful feeling. Can you imagine the impact your pet could make in a Children’s Hospital, or a visit with an autistic child? What a wonderful experience for the recipients of such a visit.

To get involved in pet therapy, please refer to some of the links below. There are national and local organizations. You could even become affiliated with a therapy organization. You may also wish to visit this http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/ beautiful blog; she visits with her dog Ton-Ton, and soon a precious lamb named Minty.

Also check out: http://www.wunsapanafarm.com/ Her therapy dogs have been registered/certified with Therapy Dogs International (www.tdi-dog.org). She says, “Wouldn’t trade this life of sharing my animals – dogs, llamas, donkeys, goats… for anything.” (Lots more under the Therapy Animals category in her sidebar.)

I just had to take a moment to add this to the post: It was a reply from Katrina of Dakota Ridge Farm, she says; “As far as pet therapy goes, we’ve been doing that for over 20 years and the smiles on the visitors faces as they pet the llamas and horses are worth more to me than words can say. I still get tears when I remember the day a blind girl wanted to know what a llama looked like, so I took her hand and traced the llamas profile, this girl was so happy, will never forget this day. ” As I read her comment I had tears trickling down my face. She is such a beautiful person with so much love to share. I just thought you would want to know!

http://affluent.net/sara/
http://www.akc.org/akctherapydog/organizations.cfm
The Delta Society (www.deltasociety.org)
“Improving human health through service and therapy animals.”
Angel On A Leash (angelonaleash.org)
Therapy charity of the Westminster Kennel Club

Is your animal appropriate for animal therapy ?
Does your animal enjoy interacting with and being touched by people?
Is your animal confident in new environments?
Is your animal calm around other animals?
Is your animal vaccinated ?
Does your dog reliably respond to basic obedience cues (“sit”, “down”, and “stay”)?
Is your dog/animal polite? (does not rush at, jump on, bark at, growl at, snap at, or kick at others)?
Important characteristics of a therapy animal are that they are confident, reliable, predictable, and controllable. A therapy animal should be very social.


“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France


Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. Alfred A. Montapert


Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.
Albert Einstein


“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
― James Herriot

If you are interested in further information or if you are just curious, perhaps you work somewhere that could benefit from a beautiful animal visit…check out this site.
ASPCA Animal Assisted Therapy Programs
AAT.department@aspca.org
or your local shelter or human society

Be Well,
Jess

27 thoughts on “The cuddle chemical effect….no, really.

  1. Hey – you just wrote my life! My therapy dogs have been registered/certified with Therapy Dogs International (www.tdi-dog.org). Wouldn’t trade this life of sharing my animals – dogs, llamas, donkeys, goats… for anything. Thanks for writing this, Jess – it’s wonderful. (Lots more under the Therapy Animals category in my sidebar.) And that was a fun day – gave me the warm fuzzies!

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  2. Great post and I definetly agree, I may not have Llammas, but my dog is my life and therapy! If he only knew the happines he brings to life, but I think he does, daddy spoils the baby all the time!!!! Then I have the wonderful birds outside my house that wait for me to throw seeds and put theme also in their little world that I have built for theme….. These simple things make me the happiest and I realize that money is not needed when you have this gift in life!

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  3. Hi Jess,
    Glad you all came for a visit, I had a wonderful time with everyone and sharing llama love is beyond the best!! As far as pet therapy goes, we’ve been doing that for over 20 years and the smiles on the visitors faces as they pet the llamas and horses are worth more to me than words can say. I still get tears when I remember the day a blind girl wanted to know what a llama looked like, so I took her hand and traced the llamas profile, this girl was so happy, will never forget it. Thank you Jess, miss you!

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  6. How wonderful, an inspiring post, I only have a tiny collection of animals for thursday but hopefully they will be reminded of their farm days and their own animals and have a play with mine.. The Old Codger calls it Dog Medicine and he told Ton to visit his room mate the other day who has done nothing but lie in his chair and moan for months.. TonTon snuffled at his hand, looking for a pat and lo and behold this old man who could not see or hear or speak or walk reached out his hand and bent his head down and ruffled his hands through Tons hair. Then the old man smiled. The Old Codger said oh I wish his wife was here to see this, the old man patted that dog again and again foralmost twenty minutes and nurses were pausing at the door with their hands over their mouths, every one quiet and still so as not to disturb them.. It was indeed a wee miracle.. thank you for the mention jess, honey, have a lovely day c

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    • It could be a good book actually, if only to encourage people to take their pets when they visit, though the more i research the more i realise how lucky i am with the retirement home, they are so generous with me! They do not regulate me much at all.. c

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  7. I have a friend whose golden retriever has been coming to a local school for years as part of a pet therapy program. It is amazing the joy that dog brings to everyone. Parker is quite the gentleman. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and everyone is reeling. His owners, friends of mine, are traveling 200 miles every few weeks to access treatment for him. Quite a story. Thanks for sharing all of your links.

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  8. Lovely post, Jess! We would love to have a few farm animals. Just not in the right neighborhood to to that (yet).

    Our son has autism and what I like to call “upper body issues.” We are constantly trying new therapies to strengthen his arms or to entice their coordination with the rest of his body. He can kick a ball all over the place, but he can’t pull a rope.

    Last summer, we put him on a therapeutic horse. He was brilliant! The horse was trained to help riders and would reluctantly comply with his rider when his rider was reluctant, and conversely would be spot. It “forced” body mechanics that my son wasn’t used to. And being on top of a gentle, big animal was calming for him. It was so worth the money.

    It continued until his sister dropped the reigns and refused (though perfectly able) to get them. He watched as his sister lost control of the horse, and though never in danger, the horse would not allow the trainer to ruin his fun eating grass unfettered. She sat on the “runaway” horse for 15-20 minutes until we reached through the fence and grabbed the bridle. My son would not get on a horse again after that.

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    • Thank you Shannon,
      So sorry to hear that such a positive experience with animals ended before he was able to reap real benefits. perhaps there is another connection he can make. ❤
      Our dog Finnegan, is a Bernese Mountian Dog X Standard Poodle, a cross thought to have been bred to interact with autistic children. He seems intuitively drawn to babies, of any species, he watched over our chick, a new puppy, our neighbor has been "his" boy since he was born, he is so attached he does not allow strangers (well, strange to Finnegan) to pick up the boy…he barks and barks… until they put him down. Silly dog.

      Jess

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