5 cute animals that take therapy to a whole new level

Help comes in many forms!

1. When it comes to being a therapy pet, Wasabi the tortoise is a pro.

Wasabi was recently certified by Therapy Pets Unlimited in Baltimore.


Image via Therapy Pets Unlimited, used with permission.

Sure, Wasabi looks like a rock, but she also is a rock to folks who are ill or who are alone who have access to her companionship.

Her owner, Lisa Chicarella, said to The Huffington Post: "She's not a goldfish in a shell. She is an intelligent animal. She can learn. She has and shows emotions."

As they say, "A therapy pet is born, not made."

This got me thinking. I'm used to seeing visions of adorable Labradors and golden retrievers when I think of therapy pets, and many therapy pets fit that mold.


Image via Therapy Pets Unlimited, used with permission.

These dogs in particular are bred to be friendly and stable, so it's no wonder they're so popular. Dewey-eyed puppies with hearts of gold are no stranger to the therapy pet world, but if Wasabi the tortoise could do it, I thought:

What other animals are out there, comforting us humans with their rock-solid temperaments?

Turns out, quite a few. Dogs have some serious therapy pet competition.

This is just a random image of llamas, but it's kind of soothing. Imaging hanging out with these guys! Image via Sheila Sund/Flickr.

2. You can be a buck-toothed and huggable llama and be a therapy pet.

Yep. There's a llama named Rojo that's been therapy certified. Her human, Lori Gregory, dresses Rojo up in flowers and hats, and they visit local hospitals near her hometown of Vancouver, Washington. As Kelly Schmidt of the Providence Children's Center in Oregon told CNN:

“[Rojo is] such a quiet, gentle, peaceful soul … it's like he really knows how special he is and how special the kids are. ... It's very a contagious spirit to have Rojo around because it's just so unusual."

3. You can be a super tiny mini horse.


On a scale of one to soothed, I'm feeling pretty soothed. Image via Pete Markham/Flickr.

From the website of Therapy Horses of the Gentle Carousel:

"From the children and first responders of Sandy Hook Elementary School / Newtown, CT to the tornado survivors of Moore, OK and child trafficking victims in Washington D.C. these little horses bring their special love where it is needed most."

4. You can be a pregnant dolphin!



In Key Largo, Florida, there's a facility called Island Dolphin Care created by Deena Hoagland, who was also a licensed clinical social worker. Her son, Joe, had a stroke after his third heart surgery. After she saw the incredible progress Joe made after he began swimming with dolphins at age 3, she founded Island Dolphin Care.

Here's just one review of a child named Jack's time with Squirt, pictured above:

"Island Dolphin Care was never a place where I expected Jack to start walking or talking. All we ever hoped for was for Jack to have fun. It wasn't always easy. I waited everyday to see if Jack's sensitivity to the coolness of the water, his allergies, his lack of sleep, his mood in general would affect his swim with Squirt every morning. However, each time we come back, Jack has more fun than the last time. His progress in and out of the water has improved more than I could imagine."

5. You can even be a pig. A big black potbellied pig named Buttercup.


Dramatization of Buttercup as a child. Look into its eyes. See love. Image via Marianne Perdomo/Flickr.

Lois Brady, a speech and language pathologist, was looking for a portable therapy animal who would also be good with the kids she worked with. She researched dogs first but then came upon a unique choice. A potbellied pig named Buttercup.

She told VetStreet:

“Many of our students have aggressive behaviors. A pig can definitely take a blow — and not turn around and want to attack."

And better yet, this pig is so novel, it's opening the minds of her students.

“Students love him because they have no preconceived notion of what a pig should be. He's so visually curious to them that they're immediately drawn to Buttercup. Kids who can't remember how to spell their own name remember everything about him, from where he sleeps to how many siblings he has."

Who knew all these animals have what it takes to be a therapy pet?

Now, don't get therapy pets confused with service animals. A therapy pet is an animal trained to provide comfort and support to people in need, particularly in times of grief, trauma and stress. A service animal is an animal trained to do tasks for a person with a disability. The fact is, the Americans With Disabilities Act only recognizes dogs and some mini horses as service animals. But therapy pets, as we see here, are all around us!

Looking at all of the animals in the animal kingdom that are there to offer a helping paw (or claw or hoof) is a great reminder that help is all around! And to never be afraid to ask for it.

And if it takes a tortoise, a llama, a mini horse, a dolphin, and a pig to give it, so be it.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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