Guinea Pigs as Registered Therapy Animals

Most of us have probably heard about animals being used as a therapy for various human conditions.  Dolphins might spring to mind, along with dogs and cats – and even horses.  But guinea pigs?

Well, our furry friends are starting to cause quite a buzz in the medical world, and various pilot schemes around the country are proving extremely successful.

One such example is that run by the Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program (formerly the Delta Society), in Wyoming.  They have two guinea pigs registered as therapy animals, and the story of how this occurred is just lovely.  A woman called Erin Maggard has supported the Central Wyoming Hospice for the past 25 years, and had noticed how a friend and resident had responded to therapy dogs that came to interact with the residents.

However, her friend had now got to the stage where she couldn’t lift her hands to pet the dogs.  So Erin brought in two of her guinea pigs, Daphne and Sienna.  Weighing less than a couple of pounds each, and with Daphne’s penchant for falling asleep if you let her lie for more than 30 seconds, she thought they might prove a good substitute for the dogs.

Placing Daphne on her friend’s chest and placing her hand on the animal, the woman was able to move her fingers in the piggy’s fur.  Encouraged, Sienna and Daphne were allowed to visit two of the other residents.  The director of nursing, Jan Proper, came to watch and noticed how the breathing of the residents slowed when petting the piggies and that their fists became less clenched.  It was Jan who encouraged Erin to get the guinea pigs registered with Pet Partners.  There are only 22 guinea pigs in the country that’re registered as therapy animals.

Another example is Emma – known as “the wonderpig,” who visits a Cumberland County nursing home to interact with the residents.

Video from YouTube and posted by cavemanooga

Cumberland County Red Cross is currently on the search for other volunteers and therapy animals.  And we certainly applaud the efforts these people and their wonderful pets are giving.

Have you got any stories about piggies that have provided a comfort to humans in need?  If so, we’d love to hear them.  We see and hear so many rescue stories of guinea pigs that sometimes we forget that pigs, in their own special way, rescue us humans as well.

Brings a smile to your face, doesn’t it.

Till next time – love those piggies…

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Jacki has shared her life with small pets and other animals for, well – pretty much forever! Always keen to absorb as much knowledge as possible about animal care, Jacki enjoys sharing her years of experience with like-minded people, and helping to ensure that pets and animals everywhere are healthy, happy and bring as much joy as possible to their owners.