Monday, May 11, 2009

The Human-Animal Bond

picture from American HumaneHere's a very interesting web page: The Human-Animal Bond.
American Humane's Human-Animal Bond Division examines and addresses the complex relationships -- both positive and negative -- between people and animals. Through our programs, we advance society's understanding of the power and the implications of those relationships. We promote humane values and the beneficial aspects of human-animal interaction. And we work to understand the causes of -- and thus prevent -- cruelty, abuse and neglect.
That is what I want to achieve as well. I figure that if a person can connect with another person -- whether that "person" is human or other animal -- there will be a beneficial relationship. For both of them.

I'll take one of the topics on that page, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and dig through some of the links...
Here's an interesting article:
Chapter from Compassion: Our Last Great Hope-Selected Speeches of Leo K. Bustad, DVM, Ph.D.

Clinical observations and the results of recent research lend credibility to the centuries-old belief that the association of people with animals and the natural environment contributes to overall health and well-being. Recently we have "rediscovered" that a close relationship between people and the natural environment, most especially animals, is vital to the well-being of our planet, its inhabitants and its habitat. This relationship helps fulfill our inherent need to nurture. The roots of this relationship, often referred to as a "bond," go back thousands of years; but urbanization, industrialization, mechanization and other forces have caused the diminution of the opportunities for nurturing and affectionate interaction with people and our natural surroundings. This deprivation of nurturing opportunities has resulted in increased stress and consequent challenges to our health.

This unhealthy state of affairs is being vigorously addressed by many people in many disciplines with the object of helping to restore health to communities everywhere. We in the Delta Society and in our sister organizations in other countries are directing our efforts to these ends by exploring the interaction of people, animals and the environment through scientific study, service and teaching.
Research has shown that close association with animals provides a vast variety of health improvements, both physical and mental. In addition to increased heart and other systemic health, mental benefits include such things as:
  • Socialization of young children with their peers
  • Development of nurturing behavior and humane attitudes in children who may grow to be more nurturing adults
  • A sense of constancy for foster children
  • More appropriate social behavior in mentally impaired elderly people and prisoners
  • Success in psychotherapy sessions and in psychiatric institutions in helping patients work through their anxiety and despair
  • Facilitation of social interaction between strangers
  • Lessening feelings of loneliness
I haven't found a definite statement from a scientist about why close interaction with animals should provide benefits not seen in human-human interaction, but I do believe the doctor in this video has the answer, near the end of the video...

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