Ambassador Blog (Lorena Ferchaud) - Pet Therapy
Yesterday I took 5 rabbits to the Skilled Nursing Facility where I work for pet therapy. I snuck them into a conference room so none of the residents would see them before it was time to put them out to play in a ground pen. One of our long-term residents was coming out of a dining room and saw me with the rabbits.
This particular resident is one of my favorites, he does not speak English, has few visitors, and is not able to converse with the other residents. Due to health/medication and this lack of verbal interaction, he also suffers from severe depression despite our efforts to keep him involved and active. In the year he has been here I have never seen him smile, never heard his voice and he rarely looks up, sometimes to only nod at me in my attempts to communicate with him.
He visibly perked up when he saw the rabbits, so I stored them and brought out my daughter's Holland Lop house pet. I put her on his lap and he immediately started chatting non stop to her in his own language. He looked up at me with the biggest grin and it was then that I realized that I really had never seen him smile. He was petting her all over and fondling her ears, so I picked her up so he could see her fat face and dewlap, he went "ohhh" and kissed and nuzzled her face.
This was truly the most remarkable experience I have had with our rabbits, it shows the power of not only rabbits but all animals in the field of pet therapy.
I would encourage everyone to contact a skilled nursing/long-term care facility in their area and schedule a visit so the residents can pet their rabbits. You would be surprised at the stories you will hear about the rabbits they had as children 70 years ago.