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  • Writer's pictureDee

Why All The Animals?

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

The last few weeks we’ve been introducing you to our animals, or as we like to call them, our cast of characters here on Barefoot Bluff, but we still haven't introduced them all! Plus more more will be added to our little therapy farm come spring, if our silent partners (aka husbands) agree. We are introducing you to all these critters not just because they’re so darn cute, but because we believe they’ll play a big role in creating a home that heals for our family. Animals have always provided comfort in our lives, but we have a hunch they can do even more.

When I (Dee) was young and single and starting out my career in broadcasting in the late 1970s, I was one lonely buckaroo. Living far away from family and friends for the first time, I was discovering how much I took their love, support, and proximity for granted. It was about this time of year, when the days grow dreary and loneliness seems even more stark, that I decided I needed a cat. Something, anything, to take away the empty feeling gnawing at me everyday as I drove home to … nothing. That’s when Punkin came into my life.

Like millions of other orange striped kitties adopted during pumpkin season, I came up with his not so original name, but unlike all those millions of other cats, this Punkin was special. Just because he was there when I needed him. Have you had a special pet like that? I hope so.

In those days I’d never heard of animal therapy. I don’t think many people had. We just knew that animals have a way of making things better, especially empty houses that didn’t feel anything like home. Fast forward a few years, and I started doing stories on animals in unusual places doing unusual jobs. Like the rotund little corgi who knew just what to do when a tearful 3rd grader showed up in the school counselors office. There was my friend, Laurie Bell, who started the non-profit Mini Joys. We followed her as she took her mini horses to unlikely places like nursing homes, hospitals, and any place where people of all ages were facing tough times. Then in later years when suicide among veterans became a tragic reality, I reported on a remarkable woman, Donna Thibedeau, and her life saving work with what was then considered a new type of therapy - equine therapy - for veterans on the brink.

And there it was. That word - therapy. Just a few decades ago most people would have scoffed at the idea of animal therapy. Today, just about everybody has heard of it, and not just because people take their snakes on planes to calm their fear of flying. Countless studies now provide substantial evidence that animals can help treat everything from anxiety and depression to PTSD, autism, ADHD, and even schizophrenia. Could animal therapy help you create a home that heals? That’s what we want to find out. We know they can provide companionship and in the case of our Great Danes, lots of laughs. But is there more? As we create our therapy farm on Barefoot Bluff, we’ll share what we’re learning. In our upcoming podcasts we’ll interview animal therapists to see what we can glean that could help your family as well as ours. While you may not want chickens or horses or alpacas, maybe you’ll discover how the right animal at the right time might be just what the doctor ordered. Stay tuned.

"In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag."
W.H. Auden
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