The other day I saw a bumper sticker in the shape of a paw on a car. It read, “Who Rescued Who?” I knew right away that the driver of the car did not contact a breeder to buy his/her pet. The pet was “rescued.” Rescued is a more commonly used phrase when differentiating between pets that were acquired for a lot of money from a breeder, versus finding a pet through a (generally) non-profit animal shelter.
NPR’s Morning Edition did a wonderful program entitled, How Animals and Humans Heal Each Other. In it, there are examples of how dogs help sick children prepare for medical treatments and horses help autistic children communicate more effectively with people. It’s a wonderful piece. A link to the show can be accessed above.
Not long ago, I was visiting a relative in the hospital. The patients were asked if they would like to be visited by an animal. The patients, who were feeling and looking lethargic, instantly seemed brighter and more hopeful. A man in his 70’s excitedly asked if the animal was a dog. When he was told that it was, the man sat up in bed and immediately said, “Yes, bring him in here! Please.” When the dog finally came to visit, the man smiled. He hugged and petted the dog. He even spoke to her and for a little while, he didn’t seem to notice the regular hospital sounds and smells. Or even his aches and pains. He was noticeably happier during his visit with the dog.
Pet Partners, formally, Delta Society, is a non-profit organization that incorporates animals into varies therapies for people. Their website states “Over 11,000 handler/animal teams bring joy, comfort and compassion to those in need. These dedicated volunteers and their pets have been credited for helping people forget about their pain, providing distractions so nurses can perform medical procedures on pediatric patients, inspiring and motivating patients recovering from a stroke or other brain injuries to perform more physical therapy exercises than when working with their human therapists alone, and at times have brought individuals out of a coma!”
More than ever before, pets are becoming valued members of society. So when we bring an animal home from a shelter, we may feel as though we’ve rescued that animal but in time, we will learn that we are the lucky ones.