Can animals heal? In the last decade or so there has been an increase in the study of this possibility.
A small study of 18 people and their dogs, demonstrated that time spent stroking and talking to the dogs resulted in subjects reducing their blood pressure, increasing levels of the body's natural mood-enhancing and pain-relieving chemicals (phenylethylamine and endorphin) and decreasing levels of cortisol, a substance associated with stress.
In Canada, research conducted on a random sample of almost 1000 people age 65 or older sought to find out if pet ownership had any influence on health care. Findings showed that in an average year, pet owners used medical services 30 times, compared to 37 times for non pet owners saving $200 (Can) per person (Ref: Parminder Riana "Relationship between pet ownership and health care among seniors")
A study by the US Dept. of Public Health concluded pets increased the survival rate of heart attack victims. After suffering serious heart attacks, about 6% of heart patients who owned pets died, whereas 28% of patients who didn't own pets died.
Studies on the effects of pets have on our health are popping up around the country. The University of Milwaukee is conducting a workshop this fall on companion animal studies: the human-animal bond in domestic and healing environments. The goals of the workshop include developing collaborative research projects on the human-animal bond in domestic and healing environments, and facilitating application of research in companion animal studies.
It's a good start.
However, studies published so far don't credit an animal with true healing ability. It's the dichotomy of scientific research that studying a topic for publishing doesn't allow for healing "abilities," only for correlation of cause and effects with statistical evidence. We don't credit humans, with healing abilities either, because there is no scientific proof of what method the healing follows - we see the effect, but we are unsure of the cause, and there are so many variables to control.
That said, in the non-scientific environment of the last two Edge Life Expos, I was fortunate to observe an unusual healer among the multitude of expo participants - my umbrella cockatoo, Casanova.
A Kirlian aura photograph taken at the first Edge Life Expo in 2001 revealed colors of pink, yellow and green. The pink and yellow were not so surprising since companion parrots, like most animals, are capable of spiritual or unconditional love (pink) and joy and freedom (yellow). What intrigued me were the hues of green in Casanova's aura. Green is a restful, modifying energy, and indicates natural healing ability. Being in the presence of someone with a green aura is a very peaceful and restful experience. The experience in the booth revealed even more.
Several speakers happened by our booth and took the time to hold Casanova's and enjoy his company. At first I didn't notice his work. He snuggled up on the chest of the speaker just under their fifth chakra, like he does with many humans. The difference during his 'healing sessions' was his stillness. Casanova would fall into a 'trance-like' state and the lucky receiver would feel their heart and throat encircled in his loving energy. When complete, Casanova would blink, shake his entire body from the tip of his crest to the end of his tail, ruffle his feathers and break his energy from that of the speaker. Sometimes this intense experience would bring tears to the receiver. I did not know at first that the people Casanova was working with were speakers. Yet when I talked to them after 'their healing' I found they were usually within minutes of giving their talk. I find it interesting that this little white bird continuously chose to give his healing to those scheduled to speak at the expo from the many people who visited the booth. That's not to say that expo patrons who handled the feathered bundle didn't receive healing, I'm sure that happened, too. It was just so apparent that his work with the speakers was so deliberate and evocative. I didn't need the aura photographs to prove what we already know: that many animals are indeed healers living among us.
For many, it's a leap of faith to call an individual animal a healer. After all, itís difficult for many humans (outside a metaphysical belief system or western medicine) to believe that they have the power to heal. And yet, Casanova's aura photograph suggests that he is a healer. Can he not be a bird and a healer? There are so many facets to our animal companions. Do you have a healer living with you?
© 2003 Marilyn Tokach