An Overview of Animal Facilitated Therapy
An 81 year old woman sat in her wheelchair in front of a window at a nursing home surrounded by her family whom she no longer recognized. She had been in the home for two years, her mental and physical health steadily deteriorating. She spoke a language all her own, no longer could anyone decipher any English or Norwegian from it. The old woman plucked invisible entities from the air and placed them in her lap. The only glimmer of recognition or reality for her was aroused when she was asked about her cat, Munse. "Grandma, how's Munse?" "Where's Munse, Grandma?" The only understandable words she speaks: "Munse? Here kitty. Meeow." She calls for her companion of eight years. A gray stuffed-toy cat is placed in her lap instead, she strokes it once or twice and then falls still and silent. What might it have meant to this elderly woman to have kept her companion with her? Could it have helped her hold on to reality longer, maintained her health and improved the general quality of her life?