More than just a Friend

When I wrote my last post on the fascinating relationship between horses and humans, I already gave you a hint about my topic for this week. I thought about linking that relationship to business ideas and the other day at my riding club, an idea came up to my mind as I was watching our weekly therapy lesson. Working animals! This concept is very interesting, for there are a variety of animal jobs, such as therapist, rescuer, or watchdog. I will explain the concept of animal jobs, their goals, and their implementation, concentrating on animal therapy.

When I wrote my last post on the fascinating relationship between horses and humans, I already gave you a hint about my topic for this week. I thought about linking that relationship to business ideas and the other day at my riding club, an idea came up to my mind as I was watching our weekly therapy lesson. Working animals! This concept is very interesting, for there are a variety of animal jobs, such as therapist, rescuer, or watchdog. I will explain the concept of animal jobs, their goals, and their implementation, concentrating on animal therapy.

Background

As I have already explained in my last post, horses have served the humans for a long time now and have established a very deep relationship with them. This also holds true for dogs, which have always been our best friend. Humans and animals, also cats, dolphins, birds, …, have a very special relationship that can enrich the lives of both parties. Current Conditions An estimated 15 percent of the world’s population has a disability, over two thirds of them living in developing countries.  Many of them can barely walk (some of them not at all), need to be watched, or have regular seizures. Furthermore many disabled people are rejected by friends and family or do not have friends in the first place. Feeling lonely and helpless makes their physical or mental situation even worse.

Goals

Animal therapy is one way of improving the living conditions of the disabled. Especially for mentally disabled children the goal is to maximize their functioning in their homes, schools and communities. Boosting their self esteem, helping them to build up relationships, and giving them hope.

Analysis

 That feeling of security and unconditional love given by our animal friends is the key element in animal therapy. Animals also make us feel more comfortable and they can act as role model for behavior and social issues. Their interactions with humans or other animals can be observed and practiced with the animal. When a person does something to the animal that it does not like, it reacts negatively immediately and the other way around as well. This helps to train caring and social skills in a very simple way.  Also the presence of animals is soothing and can help build a relationship between therapist and client.

Proposed Countermeasures -> the Plan

 There are already many programs involving animal therapy. A very interesting one is the Horse Connections Costa Rica Center for autistic children. It is easier to learn on horseback, as part of games and activities, and it provokes less resistance. Through the use of signs placed around the arena, letters can be taught, and counting the horse’s footsteps, the objects around the arena or the horse’s ears and legs, teaches the kids basic math skills.

Furthermore there are other kinds of animal therapy like the H.A.B.I.T., which brings medically and behaviorally screened dogs, cats, and bunnies to local institutions as a way of offering comfort or companionship to people who may need them.

Another interesting project, called “Therapy Animals Supporting Kids”, advocates for placing therapy animals with abused children.  This organization is specialized on using cats as the main therapy animal.

Personal Addition

I believe that this concept of animal therapy is a very productive way of helping where it is needed. While researching, I have come to the conclusion to see this as a possible career option for it would perfectly combine business, animals, and social activism. I am an animal lover and I know how they can bring comfort to your life and even without any disability, this comfort can relieve a lot of stress. And being a student at university, stress is something very normal. Check out pet therapy aiming to help students at university, but be careful. You might decide to buy a pet after reading the article.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. juliajogs

     /  2012/01/18

    Anne,

    I very like the Idea of connecting business to social activism and animals. I had the pleasure to have several animals, amongst others a dog, which was my favorite.
    What really fascinates me concerning animals is that they definitely have a soul. When researching for my own blog post a stumbled over a nice blog post http://penichops.livejournal.com/102231.html that deals with introversion and extroversion but does not simply stick to humans. The author applies the concept of character traits to dogs as well. What I notice all the time is that dogs adapt to the behavior of humans. When thinking back to my dog, I have to admit that one could clearly see that my father “raised” the dog. She was calm and friendly to (almost) everyone like my introverted father.
    Furthermore, dogs are extremely sensitive to human emotions describes Katie Tammen (http://staugustine.com/news/2012-01-02/german-shepherd-helps-army-vet-ptsd#.Txcavph0cy4). I really recommend reading this post since it is related to your very topic and it indicates that animal’s sensitiveness for human’s emotions is one of the main reasons why they could help disabled persons.

    Reply
  2. Saskia R.

     /  2012/01/18

    Dear Anne,

    thank you for that post. This was a really interesting topic and it caught my attention immediately since I also very much love animals and know of their power to ease stress and pain, both physically and mentally.

    Your post actually inspired me to look into something like dog training on a volunteering basis for next semester when there is a little more time. It always interested me, and I thought already several times about it but forgot about it again and again. Now I think I will really do some research to find something appropriate for me in Berlin. I think it’s fun, engaging, and a great way to do something different and to connect to other people and animals.

    The way you write your post is both personal and professional. Applying the A3 Model gives the post a nice stucture and flow and your personal experiences and opinions make it more authentic.

    I was surprised when following your link to the animals that take the stress from students. I had not heard of that before and think it is a really good idea since not everyone has the chance to have their own pet at home.

    Furthermore I was wondering what actually qualifies some animals over others. Obviously a lion would not be the best choice, but what about cows, sheep or some reptiles? I read that soft fur and a calm personalities qualifies some animals but of course, not every animal with fur would be suitable. Who chooses the animals?

    I also wondered how you could qualify your own pet for animal therapy. This is actually quite interesting since there are several requirements that have to be fulfilled by the animal. Check out this post (http://www.ehow.com/how_5319590_pet-therapy-certification.html) to get to know some of the requirements.

    All in all, very nicely done!

    Reply
  3. I think it is just great that you guys are writing about this topic! It is a pleasure to see your writing, along with that of many of your classmates, become more fluent, thoughtful, meaningful, and interesting! I’m now wondering if this might be a good time to identify and incorporate one or another business dimension? What business models are supporting such interesting and important work? What managerial issues might be relevant to discuss in this case? (probably all?)

    Reply
  4. Ly N.

     /  2012/01/21

    Great and very interesting post, Anne!
    I liked reading it even though I’m apparently the only one here not being an animal-lover just because I’m a chicken…I can’t even hold a hamster or cat or anything because I’m scared haha…
    Actual you got me interested because this topic is connected to medicine and I thought it was really interesting reading about another way of therapy. Especially the video was very touching seeing all these kids with disabilities having so much fun just by seeing a dog.
    Additionally, I like how you put some sense of humour in that post even though it is a serious topic (I’m talking about your last lines). Also the A3 model was used perfectly for your topic! Here’s another interesting link about the animals releiving stress at finals: http://uanews.org/node/43747

    Good job!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: