Mice as therapy animals
A mouse is small, quick, jumpy and nervous. Hardly a popular therapy animal. So how could they possibly be beneficial in Animal-Assisted-Therapy?
I discovered that they have wonderful lessons to teach us.
Surprised? This discovery began when I worked with a group of young kids. The children in that class were particularly energetic. The goal was to calm them down and teach them to listen. The first time I saw them, I brought my usual group of most trusted animals consisting of a rabbit, a ferret, a dog and a dove. These particular guys are always calm, love people and don’t stress easily. On that day though, the session had to be cut short. Even my super sociable and people-loving ferret has had enough.
Usually, when children sit and hold my animals, they calm down and enjoy the time they have with them, but this class did not react this way. They got louder and louder.
I had a challenge on my hands.
I had to change my strategy. After some thought, I decided to try something new. I put together a group of six little mice. I also gathered all the material required to create suitable environments.
So the following week I arrived prepared. I made 6 groups with the kids and now the teamwork had to begin. Each group had to build an adequate home for the mice. Hay, food, water, a place for the mouse to hide. The creativity was really fun watch.
When the task was complete, they each received their little mouse. Now, some of the kids started complaining that the mice didn’t go up to them, but stayed hidden.
“You are too loud. The mice are scared of you. We need to be very quiet for the mice to come out of their little houses.”
The class calmed down. It was sweet to see the kids shushing each other when one of them spoke too loud. Eventually, with a bit of food and a lot of effort to stay quiet, some of the mice started to come out of hiding and explore their little environment.
“Now, we will begin to tame them. You will put your hand in the box and hold it still. Eventually, the mouse will come to you.”
The kids began learning about patience.
“Taming a little animal takes time and patience. She will come when she is ready and when you are still.”
Eventually, one by one, the little mice peeked their cute little heads out of their hiding spots. , They started climbing on the children’s hands to reach for a little treat. The children were finally gentle. These kids were like hyper little mice, weren’t they? And working with hyper little mice taught them to be still and patient. A lovely end to this little story.
The powerful lady-pharaoh that ruled over ancient Egypt.
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