A Different Kind of Animal Therapy

I am continually amazed by the ways animals are used in therapy and in education. Seeing eye dogs are completely passé. We’ve now got rabbits that help kids with reading and miniature horses that serve as guides. Even dogs have expanded the variety of therapy roles in which they serve. There are dogs who care for epileptics, dogs that provide hospice therapy, dogs for the deaf, and much more. All of these are incredibly valuable and prove the essential nature of animals to our well-being. Simple awareness of this should do wonders for any individual’s respect for his or her natural world. However, I would argue that one manner of animal therapy – equally essential to society is often neglected, particularly in popular culture: agricultural therapy. It may seem counterintuitive to place the raising and processing of chickens alongside the bond developed with a therapy dog. Yet while the simple chicken cannot compete with a dog’s capacity for empathy, the care for the chicken, along with the processing, instills enormous respect. This translates into respect for one’s food, respect for physical labor, and most of all, respect for sacrifice. And chickens are only the tip of the agricultural therapy iceberg. Troubled young men in particular can be well served by the entire experience.