Anyone who knows me knows that I am a complete and total animal lover. I would go so far as to say they are my preferred companions, even over other people. So when they told me that two of our therapy groups would be equine therapy and dolphin therapy I was instantly all about it.
|And now I have an excuse to show pictures of my fur kids. This is Pico, one of my two poodle rescues.|
|And this is Nano, Pico’s sister. Her eyes glow in ALL pictures taken of her so I am sure you will understand when I say her nickname is Fussy|
We went out every Thursday, while I was at Lucida, to a farm owned by these two therapists, known to us as “the Dianes” (as they both had the same name). They were two lovely women who loved being therapists and loved horses so they decided to combine the two. Their horses were either rescues or had been donated to the farm by people who knew about their program. They had these two adorable miniature horses named Ginger and Lilly. Lilly looked like a tiny unicorn and Ginger and beautiful auburn fur. We couldn’t really do much with them because they had just been donated a few days before my arrival and weren’t really ready to be therapy horses. We did, however, get to go visit with them every times we went out there and they were just adorable.
|I mean, seriously, how cute is this baby?|
My favorite horse (of all the full sized horses) was an appaloosa mare named LB (for Little Beau or Little B#tch depending on who was working with her at the time). She was one of eleven horses rescued from these people (and I use that term rather loosely as “people” do not treat animals badly) who had turned the horses loose on their farm and left them to starve. She was the underdog and a little bit sassy, so of course I loved her. While we were there we learned how to bridle the horses and lead them around the arena. We even got to learn how to get a horse to back up and how to get them to jump over low poles. Sometimes we simply got to hang out with the horses while we talked about things we were facing in our own lives. It was a great experience and one I thought was very helpful in building confidence in all that participated.
|And now for a random picture of my little Dresden, my Chihuahua, Doxie mix.|
My favorite experience by far, however, was the day I got to go swim with the dolphins at a place called Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, FL. I cannot say enough good things about this place or these people. IDC was started by a woman named Deena, her husband and their son, Joe, after an amazing experience they had with Dolphin’s Plus, a public “swim with the dolphins” program. Joe had faced a lot of serious health issues as a child (for the whole wonderful story please see their site at www.islanddolphincare.org ) and healed through water therapy and swimming with a very special dolphin named Fonzie. After seeing the success her son had by doing this, Deena, who is a a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, decided to put together IDC so that they could offer programs to other children that do not respond well to more traditional therapies. They have been offering their program for over twenty years now and they have successfully helped countless families faced with developmental and physical disabilities, emotional challenges and critical, chronic or terminal illness.
Our day there started with lunch, which is always a good thing (I’m a foodie! heehee). Then a short talk about what to do and what not to do while in the water with the dolphins. Deena also gave us a little background on IDC and Joe’s story. After that, we suited up to get into the water. I got paired up with Squirt and Toshi, a mama and her baby.
|Lovely Mama Squirt. She is 7.5 feet long and about 550 lbs.|
|And young Toshi, who while much smaller than mom is still pretty big.|
I was a little nervous, simply because this was a new thing, but I still got right in the water and was ready to play. While in the water I got to ask the dolphins to dance and sing (too cute for words), they brought me presents (seaweed from the bottom of the lagoon), they pushed my around the lagoon by my feet (we got up some pretty good speed too), they pulled me forward with their dorsal fins, they jumped through a hoop and over a pole for me and I even got to give Squirt a hug (there are photos and I will share them when I received them). All in all it was an experience that I will never forget and someday I hope to get to do it again (hopefully in a little different situation though). For me, it really helped me to see that by facing my fears, I can live a more enjoyable and life-filled life. It’s so much better than sitting back and just watching others because I am too afraid to even try.
Animal assisted therapy is a newer therapy modality but I think it is a truly beneficial one. For me, it helped me to realize what I can accomplish when I don’t let fear control my life (which is a big deal for me – fear is one of my biggest and most crippling issues). If you are ever given the opportunity to try it, I highly recommend it.
Today’s “shout out” is to Island Dolphin Care. You’ve already read what they do and I hope you will look at their site to see what they have done for so many families (Family Forum). They are a charitable organization and donations are their sole source of income, so if you can, please donate to a very worthy organization. They are a 501(c)3 organization, so your contribution is tax deductible.
And last but not least:
|My beautiful sheltie/corgi mix Minnie. She is 13 years old and the light of my life.|
Alright, I’m done now.