There are many organisations now that recognise the benefit of the interaction with animals. Charitable organisations that take dogs for example, into hospitals or residential homes so that long term patients can once again experience a connection they may not have experienced in many years. There are also organisations that take animals into inner city schools, usually farm animals, so children can see and touch creatures they would never have seen otherwise. But you don’t have to be an organisation to do this, you just need to be community spirited and above all enthusiastic.
How to Start
Obviously, you need access to an animal or two, preferably your own, but if you like the idea of sharing the love why not rope in a pet owning friend? The type of animal doesn’t matter, the temperament of the animal does. The pet you choose, must like being handled, and needs to be calm around strangers and strange places, but it doesn’t have to be cute or cuddly. I have taken to my local nursery school my St. Bernard, a Mexican Black King Snake and a Bearden Dragon and I have to say that the snake was by far the most popular.
Depending on the type of animal you have will determine who you will share your love with. Despite the popularity of my snake with the nursery children, I don’t think she would have gone down as well in an old persons residential home, so you must try and match the animal with people who will appreciate it.
It’s not just your pet you need to prepare. Obviously, if it is a dog or any animal with claws, you will need to get out the dog nail clippers and make sure the claws are trimmed. But the main preparation is a pre-visit to your chosen place, whether it is a hospital, nursery, or school. Talk to the person in charge about what you would like to do and whether they are in a position to facilitate your visit. You may need some form of insurance, but not always.
Before Your First Visit
Undoubtedly, you will be asked many questions when you take your pet visiting. Some questions will be specific about your pet, but there will be people, especially children, who will want to know things about the breed in general. When I took my snake into the school the children wanted to know how much she weighed and how long she was, I didn’t actually know so we weighed and measured her in the classroom. All subsequent visits to schools I took some scales and a tape with me so the children could weigh and measure her. So you may want to brush up on some basic knowledge and come up with some creative ways you and your pet can interact. Visit your local pet shop, tell them what you intend to do and ask them what questions they have been asked by their customers, this will give you an idea of the questions you are likely to be asked.
Sharing your love of animals should be both enjoyable and educational. I still have children, (now teenagers) coming up to me asking how my snake is (sadly no longer with me). My snake and I made a lasting impression on several young lives and I am proud of that, you could be too.