A friend recently sent me a link to a story in the BBC news that I couldn't resist. We here at Shrink Rap have a soft spot for living creatures of every stripe: ducks, cats, Max, predatory birds, parakeets, guinea pigs and other warm fuzzy things. I think having a fondness for living creatures is a healthy thing and a good thing for doctors and patients alike.
There are programs that use animals as therapeutic tools. Pets On Wheels will bring dogs and cats in to inpatient units. There are therapeutic riding programs that let disabled kids go to stables to ride horses. I've heard of therapeutic swimming programs where kids are allowed to swim with dolphins. This story brings the idea of therapeutic animals visits to a whole new level.
Nursing home residents in England are getting in-room visits from donkeys. Yes, they actually come into the rooms. As far as I know there is no riding involved. Personally I'm impressed they managed to get the critters up the elevator. And before anyone asks, the handlers bring pooper-scoopers although they acknowledge sometimes "accidents do happen". Eyew. Therapy should be productive, but perhaps not quite that way.