Friday, 2 November 2012

Children and animals



Little Princess meets a hamster at eye level!

Little Princess was not the only child to meet Miss Maize the Hamster but she was the only ones whose face I caught on camera with this wonderful expression. She was fascinated by the creature and seeing it so close to her. 

She has no pets at home and rarely visits friends who have them either. 

It was a treat for her, and for me to see her face!

As we watched I said to her – ‘That would be something for you at home wouldn’t it?’

She knows that I know that there are no pets at home as no one has time for them and she knows that I know how much she likes animals. She looked at me wistfully and nodded.

A while back, when we were writing celebratory wishes to the Association for its fiftieth birthday celebration, Little Princess wrote her wish that she hoped in the future that there would be therapy dogs visiting us.

We need these little nudges, moments of awareness to get us to spring into action. We will try our best to bring our children in contact with as many animals as possible in the future. It should not be too difficult we are out in the countryside surrounded by all sorts of wild life.


Many years ago one of my clients, who is now in her early twenties and studying in Munich, asked me why it is that her budgerigar and her guinea pigs seemed to understand her better than people did and why was it that her rabbit sat quietly on her lap but ran away from everyone else.

I could not answer her. I could suggest that it was perhaps the calmness that she had and that despite her sometimes sudden movements, because of spasticity shooting through her limbs, she had the ability to remain still and spoke soothingly to the animals, not distracted by something else or wishing to run off with friends like her brother.

These seemed most inadequate answers at the time and still do especially as I continue to observe the affinity that many of our children find with animals. This is not something that I observe only with children with disability. I had a friend at school who was afraid of dogs, she had no pets at home but my dog loved her. He would sit with his head on her knee and she dared to stroke him. I will never forget the first time he did it and my friend asking me why he liked her when she was so afraid.

I do not know, but it is lovely when the children who I work with experience this affinity. Many of them find it so hard to find real friends and it is a joy for them to make animal friends so easily.

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