As far back as the Stone Age, more than 9,000 years ago, there has been a partnership between man and animals. In recent times, the relationship as developed to become far more. Animals are now used to provide one form of assistance or the other to the disabled.
I am sure that at some point or the other, you must have seen a cute little dog with a child with a disability. These animals are not cute pets. They provide one form of assistance or the other.
So, in what ways exactly do these animals help?
Animals help disabled people with a wide range of functions they cannot carry out by themselves. Trained animals have been known to help the disabled; open and shut doors, give physical support while walking, help get dressed or undressed, retrieve items, turn on/off lights and much more. The help animals render to the disabled cannot be underestimated.
What Type of Animals Help Disabled People?
You probably do not know that there are other animals than dogs that help disabled people. Though dogs are more common for a reason, there is a range of other animals that provide one form of assistance or the other to disabled people. These animals are called service animals.
Though you might never have seen these animals used for support, they are actually used by disabled people. I am talking about animals such as:
- Miniature Horses: This specie of animals is now being used more for assistance to disabled people. They are apparently great physical support for disabled people that can’t walk. These horses are also used by the blind because of their sharp eyesight. Horses are generally cautious, mild-mannered, and live far longer than the average dog, making them a great choice for a service animal.
- Ferrets: These animals are calm, social and easily transported. They are good for emotional support as they usually burrow close to their owners. Ferrets can be trained to wake their owners up, remind them to take medications, interrupt harmful actions.
- Parrots: These animals have been of great assistance to people with psychiatric disorders. They can help talk their owners out of stressful situations or dangerous actions. Parrots can repeat calming words to their owners. They can also alert you to the presence of others or when you left the tap running.
- Potbelly Pigs: While these animals can do almost all the functions that a service dog can, they are cleaner. These pigs are intelligent and gentle which makes them ideal for kids. They are less frightening than dogs. Pigs are better for children with aggressive tendencies that could be dangerous with a dog.
- Capuchin Monkeys: These monkeys are native to South America. They are good at holding and retrieving things. This makes them perfect for people with disabilities that affect their motor skills. Capuchin Monkeys can be trained to perform basic chores like fetching a glass of water and phones, opening a door to even feeding the owner. Monkey Helpers are an organization in Boston that train these monkeys to help people with disabilities.
While there is an available variety to the use of dogs for helping disabled people, dogs are still the most popular.
How Do Animals Support The Disabled?
You might be familiar with the guide dog for the blind but there is a range of ways animals help the disabled. I would disclose the classes of support that our furry friends and other animals have given to the disabled.
Animals are trained to help disabled people in these ways:
- For Guidance: Dogs and Horses are the common choices for this function. These animals help their blind owners to safely walk to various places. Veteran dogs are known to even master routes and lead their owners without any guide from them. These dogs help them avoid potential hazards like oncoming cars and other pedestrians.
- For Hearing: There are dogs that assist people with hearing disabilities. With the acute hearing abilities of dogs, this is an easy feat. These dogs are trained to be accustomed to certain sounds like an alarm, doorbells, ring tones, and smoke alarms. They learn the difference between these sounds and call the attention of their owner through body contact. They can also be taught to lead the way to the sound.
- For Companionship: Almost all animals can be used to provide emotional support to the disabled. These animals have a way of giving their owners a soothing relief. People, children, and adults alike, with autism have found companionship with animals has a way of reducing pressure and anxiety. Generally, animals help improve our mental well-being. Their presence relieves of tension and improves our mood.
- For Therapeutic Purposes: Therapeutic Horse riding has been used to help people with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other reduced motor dysfunction. This therapy helps posture, movement, and balance. Results are not immediate but help after a period of time. This therapy also has a way of boosting confidence and emotional strength.
How Can Animals Be Trained To Help The Disabled?
There are various organizations that train animals to help disabled people. These organizations do not just train these animals but they ensure that they are in safe hands and live healthy lives. After the animal’s service is done or they get old, these organizations also provide a befitting retirement.
These organizations include:
- Assistance Dogs International
- Guide Horse Foundation
- NEADS (Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans)
- Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled
- Delta Society
You can also learn how to teach your animal to be a service animal. This will help you save some cost from getting an already trained animal.
Animals have truly helped humans in numerous ways and still continue to do so. Researches are still being carried out on animals that can help humans in various ways. This relationship between man and animals is not going to fade soon but rather grow stronger.