Animal Assisted Therapy Through the Ages
Aubrey Fine’s new book on AAT just came out, Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy, and I am pleasantly surprised at how much of general interest is in it. If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile you might remember that Aubrey and I wrote a chapter for it together on “what therapists need to understand about their co-therapists.” I loved working with Aubrey, he and I share so many beliefs and perspectives, and in addition he is such a kind and generous man to work with. We both agreed, as we say in the chapter, that great therapy dogs are often older dogs, who have had a chance to mature and mellow a bit.
As I mature (so to speak) I look forward to being semi-retired and having the time to do AAT or AAA (animal assisted activities). With Willie? Not sure, too soon to say. He is sooo cuddly; last night I got lazy and spend several hours on the living room floor watching TV, spooning with Willie and giving him a two hour belly rub. He loves to lie next to people, his head on your chest, but then, one is required to stroke and rub or a paw comes up to remind you to get back to business….
My pleasant surprise about the new book relate to its sections on the human-animal bond in general and on historical aspects of using animals to improve human health. James Serpell has a fascinating chapter on “Animal-assisted interventions” through history, including animal souls, animism and animals in medieval times as agents of healing. The book, as well as being the ‘must-have’ reference for anyone interested in a AAT or AAA, turns out to be a treasure trove of references and information about people, animals, our social bond and mutual health benefits.Warning: it’s not cheap. It sells for $56 on Amazon, which is more than reasonable given its size (588 pages) and the amount of information in it, and its not beach reading either. But if you’re interested in the topic, it would be a great book to have.
I’d love to hear your AAA or AAT experiences. I know we talked about it last year, but I’d especially like to hear from people who also would like to do it but haven’t yet. Perhaps your questions could be addressed by the pro’s out there? I know lots of you reading this do therapy with your dogs.. your advice for people who would like to get started?
And, oh yeah, I promise not to mention any more books for awhile. Until I do. Sorry, I am a book groupie, (as if it hasn’t been obvious.)
Right now I wish I had more time to read. I’ve been giving talks right and left, have a fun one tonight at the Verona library and next week at the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha. Working hard on my APDT talk, not to mention my two-day seminar in New Zealand. One day of that is the Advanced Dog Behavior Seminar, which I haven’t done for awhile so will need lots and lots of updating. Doing lots of writing too… finishing an article with Pia Silvani on Dog-Dog Reactivity, recently finished an article for NIH on kids and dogs (that one dragged on forever!), just finished my new column for Bark’s Nov/Dec issue on the mental life of dogs.
Humm, better stop writing this and get back to business . . .
MEANWHILE, back at the farm: It’s blue sky and cool and crisp and you just wanna take the entire week off and gather apples and make cider and pick the last of the basil before the first frost (coming later this week) and mash it into pesto. Willie and the sheep (and I) are loving this weather. 65 F for a high, high 30′s or low 40′s at night. Perfection. But it’s getting dark so early; and now I have to choose between gardening (way behind), practicing with Willie on our driving straight lines or taking a long hike for general health of both me and Willie and to get ready for NZ and the Milford Trek.
Request: Send more hours in the day. Will pay premium price for ones with low humidity, cool temperatures and soft sunlight on fall colors.
The bird feeders are getting busy again. Here’s a Goldfinch and Nuthatch getting a snack of black oil sunflower seeds and thistle seed. . .
And here’s some sunflowers themselves….