Sarah Kirsch rescued her dog, Angel, from the Concord-Merrimack County SPCA, and enrolled Angel in a program to become a therapy dog through that organization. Now certified, Angel makes regular visits to nursing homes.
The presence of a therapy dog can have a significant impact on the residents.
Kirsch and Angel were directed to one resident, Pearl. Though she seemed to be unresponsive, her roommate informed Kirsch that she really did like dogs.
Animals have long played a part in human therapy and healing; from dogs trained to assist the disabled, to all manner of animals making visits to hospitals and nursing homes. For one Vermont woman, it’s a horse that’s helped her heal; not from physical ailments, but from the emotional and spiritual scars of abuse. Sean Hurley brings us her story.
There are many ways to ease the pangs of loneliness, illness, and old age –among them, spending time with a friendly animal companion. More than ten thousand animals are currently registered as care workers in the United States - only fourteen of them however, are llamas. I recently spoke with llama trainer Niki Kuklenski of J.N.K. Llamas about how this unusual animal is playing a role in human therapy.
The Kilhams are those someones. Last spring, black bear specialist Benjamin Kilham, his wife Debbie, and his sister Phoebe, who together operate a bear rehabilitation sanctuary near Lyme, New Hampshire, took on the care of twenty orphaned black bear cubs - much higher than their usual number of charges.
Pets ingest pollutants and pesticide residues and breathe in an array of indoor air contaminants just like children do -- and since they develop and age seven or more times faster than children, pets develop health problems from exposures much faster.
Dear EarthTalk: What are some tips for keeping my dogs and cats healthy?-- Kim Newfield, via e-mail
Believe it or not, our pets may be exposed to more harsh chemicals through the course of their day than we are. Researchers at the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that pet dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested, including 43 chemicals at levels higher than those typically found in people.
Today when dogs do a disappearing act, infrared cameras, tracking devices, and social media help owners keep tabs on wandering pets. These security technologies are a growing part of the 56-billion dollars spent annually on America’s pets.
In his book, New Hampshire’s Ben Kilham describes what he has learned in his twenty years studying these creatures. Contrary to their image as solitary and not-that-intelligent, Kilham finds bears capable of altruism, and cooperation. He even finds them possess a complex communication system, as well as social behaviors that at times look a lot like ours.
More than three decades ago, the Mountain Gorilla project started a tourism project to save the threatened gorilla population from poaching. The project hired poachers as park rangers and demonstrated that live gorillas were much more valuable as tourist attractions than dead ones. Since then, gorilla tourism has added hundreds of millions of foreign tourist dollars to state coffers in Central Africa, and the great ape populations have seen a modest rebound.
Recent studies out of Duke University have discovered that everyone’s favorite lab rat, the humble mouse, has a penchant for singing – and more importantly, singing in tune...in a way. Producer Taylor Quimby is Word of Mouth’s always willing investigator of strange science, and he has the story.
Check out Cinderella's singing mice. They are true heroes:
Dear EarthTalk: Do environmentalists think the Endangered Species Act has been a success or failure with regard to protecting biodiversity in the U.S.?-- Ron McKnight, Trenton, NJ
While that very question has been a subject of debate already for decades, most environmental advocates are thankful such legislation is in place and proud of their government for upholding such high standards when it comes to preserving rare species of plants and animals.
Remember how people used to joke about online dating? What once was an easy target for digs about desperate singles and social pariahs is now a success story for oodles of couples and dozens of highly profitable dating services. Among the unabashed masses of online daters these days is an unlikely demographic – the animal kingdom. Reyhan Harmancy is a staffer at Buzzfeed, where she wrote about how zoos use online dating methods to profile and pair species together.