What is Llama Therapy Llama Assisted Therapy is a form of Animal Assisted Therapy used to facilitate the sensory process. These activities always give the recipients an emotional lift, regardless of their physicial state. It is believed that animals have a calming therapeutic effect and in some cases may aid in the recovery process. Today, many facilities and treatment programs are discovering the rewards of Animal Assisted Therapy. As we enter a new millennium, we are just beginning to take advantage of the true healing benefits of these unique programs.
What happens during Llama Therapy?
Each Llama Therapy and Visitation session last for one hour. The llamas are transported to a facility where a hands-on therapeutic experience takes place. Residents are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities with the llama. These activities include face-to-face (nose-to-nose) contact, touching and stroking the animals’ wool, hand-feeding the llamas, hugging them and walking alongside them. A very special part of Llama Therapy includes individual room to room.
Stairs offer no resistance
Kanerika Farm is proud to provide llamas to hospice houses, palliative care patients, and others who are in need of comfort. When these people visit with a llama, they forget about their cares for a short while, and put their minds on something else. Llamas seem to have a gift for providing comfort and the relief of stress. Llamas have an extremely gentle nature. They cause people to calm down, forget their worries and relax. They brighten the day for the elderly, the sick, and those who just need to slow down from their hectic schedules. Schools use them to provide educational opportunities to their students. Others enjoy seeing them in parades or visiting them
on farms. There is nothing like giving a llama a woolly hug, and receiving a hug in return. Llamas are being used successfully with elderly and handicapped persons. Nursing Homes are delighted when llamas are brought for a visit. Llamas make good therapy animals because they are intuitive and curious with new people and surroundings. Llamas seem to sense the needs of others and are giving and gentle animals. They do not react nagatively to people that others would see as different.
Photo: By Lara Bradley/The Sudbury Star Life
Friday, December 02, 2005 @ 11:00
Warm and fuzzy therapy sessions. Llama owner takes animals to visit residents in long-term care facilities.
Liza Gorky pets Mulligan, a four month old llama, during a visit to Finlandia long-term care facility in Sudbury. John Mayhew uses four of the llamas from his Markstay farm as pet therapy for residents of area long-term care and nursing homes.
Goldie is an old hand at meeting the public, but Mulligan, her four month old son, is nervous, so he doesn’t stray far from Mom side. The mother and son llamas don’t mind the residents of Finlandia long-term care facility stroking their necks. Flashes from cameras, however, they aren’t too thrilled with. I love them. They’re really mild and soft. I really love animals, said resident Aurore Bennett, petting Mulligan.
Their fleece is nothing like a horse’s coat. It’s softer, like that of a rabbit’s, and best of all, it’s hypoallergenic, so there are no worries about triggering a reaction in one of the residents.
Llamas are known as hardy pack animals adept at climbing the mountains of Peru. In Sudbury, John Mayhew is using four members of his herd from his Markstay farm to offer pet therapy to residents at several local nursing homes.
The benefits of pet therapy have been documented with much anecdotal evidence, but recently a small study conducted in California showed definite health benefits. Visits from a dog and a volunteer significantly lowered anxiety, stress and heart and lung pressure among patients who have suffered heart failure, the study said.
Residents at Finlandia gathered in the lobby to watch the llamas last Friday. Some received a kiss or a sniff, while others just wanted to stroke their fur. There were lots of smiles and some apprehension, but all watched the llamas intently.
Besides standing still for pets, Mayhew also got Goldie to demonstrate her mountain climbing abilities by taking her up the steps to the second floor.
The Incas worshipped llamas, calling them their silent brother. The llama was their beast of burden, a source of clothing, food and fuel.
Llamas don’t have hooves. They have soft pads, so being stepped on by one doesn’t present the same pain that say a pony of a similar size could inflict. In fact, their two-toed feet make them perfect for hauling golf clubs on sensitive greens, like at one prestigous course in North Carolina. They are used on golf courses for caddying. They also are used to guard other animals, Mayhew said. We just do pet therapy with them.
He bought his first llamas in 2001. I always enjoyed exotic animals, he said. Llamas have only been owned as pets in Canada for about two decades. Back then, buying a llama would have cost $15,000 to $20,000. Now, they typically start at around $500. Initially, Mayhew hadn’t planned to use them in a pet therapy program, however, after seeing articles on the Internet, he decided to give it a try.
So, does he see the benefits of using llamas for therapy? Oh my, yes, he said. At first (people) shy away. Then they see someone else getting a kiss and they start warming up and they want one too.
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