What started out to be a funny story; suddenly turned serious today.
Here’s what happened…
Nancy, my friend who lives in Ireland, shared an incident that made their newspapers. We both thought it was funny at the time.
For me, it still is.
Here’s the story:
“PETA wants to erect a tombstone for chickens who died in a road crash near Waterford City (European News)”
“An animal rights group wants to put up a tombstone in memory of chickens who died in a road crash.
A truck carrying the poultry overturned near Waterford city bypass, killing a number of them.
Now PETA has sent a letter to Waterford city and county council Mayor Pat Nugent asking for permission to erect the memorial at the scene.
The tribute would feature an image of a chicken next to the words “In Memory of the Chickens Who Suffered and Died in a Lorry Accident at This Spot: Try Vegan.”
I smiled as I first read it, and I have to admit I’m still smiling. However, some folks are furiously serious when it comes to protecting animals. I have to respect that.
If I want to take myself seriously; in a way, I am a professional. I am a professional therapy dog handler. I have been called over-zealous in my method of caring for Bernie and Chris. I can wax for hours on that subject… but I’d like to share an incident that happened to me last Thursday.
It was my first West Valley Writer’s Critique meeting. During an informal chat, one member commented that he read that therapy animals were going to have to be licensed or certified.
He’s partially correct. Like most things people hear or read, a correct answer is, “It depends.”
It would take a book to detail all the in’s and outs of what constitutes a ‘therapy animal’ as well as whether it even qualifies to be considered to be a therapy animal.
For example, Bernie and Chris are Certified Therapy Dogs. They have passed all the tests to wear that title proudly. Still, they are not allowed to enter most commercial establishments, like Costco. Costco has a large sign stating what animals are allowed to enter.
The sign was put up in response to people abusing what is considered as being a therapeutic animal.
You may have seen people cuddling their pet, claiming it is an “emotional therapy pet.” It may be. However, it isn’t a legally licensed ‘service animal’ and doesn’t qualify to enter most commercial establishments.
Although dogs are easily the most recognized ‘service, therapy, emotional’ animal helper, other animals do bond with humans. They can form strong connections with humans and vice versa, sometimes referred to as the Human-Animal Bond.
I can’t speak for chickens, but most literature report animals offer affection and unconditional acceptance. They are responsive, live in the ‘here and now’ and don’t mind who you are or how you look.
These wonderful creatures are usually direct and honest, and unlike humans they are non-judgmental.
More positive attributes are they don’t criticize, hold grudges, change the rules or otherwise confuse through verbal communications. In fact, some people feel safer and less threatened by animals. Being with animals can encourage our nurturing and empathic traits and, for survivors of abuse, offer an opportunity for ‘safe touch.’
What about chickens?
Kate Khales, at the Morningside Health Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin shared, “We found we have some male residents who will sit there and they’ll talk to the staff a lot more about the chickens, they’ll make jokes – it was especially useful in getting them to socialize with other people.”
What other animals do humans interact with?
In addition to dogs, cats, guinea pigs, birds, and horses, people interact with pigs.
I share Bernie and Chris with others at our therapy visits to nursing homes, schools and rehabilitation facilities. I derive pleasure knowing they, like all animals involved in such activities, encourage positive interactions between people and animals.
It’s more than watching smiles and gentle touch. The development of relationships and emotional bonds build on trust and respect. There are better social interaction and reduced social isolation.
There is a wealth of medical research showing a relief from anxiety and stress, exhibited by a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure.
Thank you, Bernie and Chris, for all that you do.