Therapy animals have always had a big impact in my life. It began when I was 2 years old and my mom was in the hospital with my brother Hill. I visited her every day, but Wednesday was the day the therapy dog came. It was always the highlight of my day! It was an amazing experience because I had a connection with animals, especially when I was little. The dog made me feel better in tough times.
About a year and a half ago I decided I wanted to do the same when we got our pigs, Thunder and Bolt. One day I heard about a therapy pig on the news and I thought, “We could do this with the pigs.” I researched pigs and found out they are much smarter than dogs. I began preparing them for their certification test. After they passed we started visiting the kids and adults receiving treatment at Tampa General Hospital. There are so many amazing things about therapy animals, but here are 5 reasons why therapy animals make the world a better place.
To me, nothing is better than seeing a patient smile when they see the pigs. When we visit Tampa General Hospital the patients and nurses have these huge smiles on their faces as soon as they see the pigs! Therapy animals have a positive impact on people. They make people smile even when they have not smiled in a while. Thunder and Bolt have made people smile around the world. On their Instagram @Thunderboltpigs, we receive direct messages from people that are struggling. They say stuff like, “I have been going through a hard time and when I see your pigs my whole day turns around!” And those types of messages make me smile!!
2. They bring a positive impact for hospital visits
When I was little I used to dread going to the hospital because it just reminded me of how sick my mom was, but when the therapy dog started to come I loved it! He made me feel better during those tough times. Thunder and Bolt have had that impact on people too. I remember one time we were visiting with the pigs this little kid came up to me and said, “I wish they could come every day!” That’s when I knew they were bringing a positive impact on kids.
The hospital can be a scary place, especially for kids. Tampa General Hospital has done many things to help kids feel better about their stay. Many kids have a love for animals like I do. When a therapy animal comes they light up. Frowns turn to smiles, and they run to them. There are many different types of therapy animals that kids connect to. The little girls connect with the “unicorn” and the boys love the dogs. It makes them feel happy during a hard time.
4. They teach people compassion for animals.
When you think of a pig the first thing that may come to mind is bacon. Many people think that before meeting the pigs. After they meet them and play with them for a little it’s hard to for them to eat bacon. It teaches a lot of people that pigs are friends, not food. I have one friend that stopped eating pork products because of the pigs.
5. They inspire people.
Therapy animals are an inspiration to everyone. They show people that an ordinary dog or horse can make a difference and that inspires people to do their own type of good. Even though it’s hard to train a therapy animal, people are taking what therapy animals do and doing it themselves. Which I think is amazing!