My dog is in training to be a therapy dog. Marcel is a natural- he’s gentle, sweet, and at 11lbs, he was bred to be a lap dog. Though I’ve only brought him to the office with me for a few weeks now, clients immediately notice when he isn’t there and ask with notable disappointment, “Where’s Marcel?” I don’t take it personally, rather, I understand.
Our pets are therapeutic, as any dog or cat lover knows. They gift us with soft fur, cold noses, wet kisses, playful swats, funny antics, and soulful eyes… what’s not to love? But what is it, exactly, that makes this unique relationship therapeutic? Well… it’s the relationship.
Animals can offer us many things, most of all unconditional love and a relationship. Think about the important people in your life- those you love and respect, those who love and respect you. Nothing nurtures the human heart more deeply than love, and compassion is the heart’s greatest balm. Material things, while they make life easier, are a poor substitute.
If you’ve ever been in therapy, you hopefully have experienced the nurturing power of another person who is truly present to you. Relationships are the vehicle by which we care for and heal one another- in silence, in words, and in love. Our four-legged friends offer us love and ask little in return. They do not carry on a conversation with us the way our spouses, friends, or therapist do (though my mother would argue that, in their own way, they do “talk”), but they are infinitely happy to be truly present with us. Perhaps that is their greatest gift, and the ultimate expression of their love for us.
If we can help you to understand more about, or to practice, the power of genuine presence in your relationships, feel free to contact us at email@example.com