by Jin Kim
There’s always been exactly one place Simon wanted to be, and he’s always fought like hell to make sure he got there and stayed there. Wherever you were.
This is Chester. When I was in Afghanistan I got a care package from one of those “Adopt a Soldier” programs that lets families send care packages to service men and women who are deployed overseas. Anyway, I got this care package, and it came with the usual stuff: Baby wipes, crackers, peanut butter, the Dad threw in a pack of cigarettes, and there was some jerky. But there was also a little beanie baby gold fish and a hand written note from a 7 year old girl that said
“Dear Soldier, (I wasn’t even mad)
I hope you are doing well. I’m sorry you have to miss thanksgiving with your family. This is my friend Chester. He keeps me safe from monsters, but I think you need him more than I do. I hope he keeps you safe from the monsters you’re fighting. Take good care of him for me”.
You bet your ass that little fish was in my pocket every time I went on patrol.
I’ve never been so scared in my life
To add to this, I have TERRIBLE anxiety and the calming effects handling snakes provides me with are what prevents me from having to take anti-anxiety medication. They can be fantastic therapy animals.
Agreed. If I’m near a panic attack taking out any of my snakes sends it away almost immediately.
Reptiles can make incredible therapy animals, especially for people with allergies to fur. I’ve brought Ngarehu with me to my Mom’s hospice and the residents there were active and interested in learning more about him. He was able to make connections to people who weren’t able to connect to an active and bouncy puppy.
Personally, I find him very soothing to handle as well. In public, when I feel like I’m on the brink of an anxiety attack, I can put my hand on him and remind myself why I’m outside. He’s the best emotional support animal I could have asked for. This is perfect for me since most anti-anxiety meds just put me to sleep.
Reptiles don’t experience emotions like us, but that’s ok. Sometimes it’s really nice to just slow down and pat a lizard or a snake.
Reptiles can’t be used as therapy animals? I think the NHS would have something to say about that;
Okay. So I can almost guarantee that you wouldn’t say this about someone’s cute little aquatic turtle or someone’s fish or a tree frog. I’m willing to bet any amount of money that this comes from bias towards snakes because of your ignorant misconceptions. It’s okay to not understand an animal or be afraid of it. It’s not okay to tell me that I’m less deserving of my animals because of your personal issues with them.
As far as them being therapy animals goes, I can and will say that the most calming thing I have the ability to do at home is sit down with olly on my stomach or my lap and run my hands gently down him, which he doesn’t mind at all. My snakes have the ability to let me de-compress in only a few minutes when I’m stressed just by letting me touch them.
People find their own personal therapy jn different ways. Some people do best with therapy dogs and whatnot, some people use sensory objects, some people go on walks, I handle my snakes.
A London clinic is the first to use reptiles to help patients overcome low self-worth and “communication issues”.
The Huntercombe hospital in Roehampton has enlisted Angel, a seven-year-old 5ft corn snake, in group sessions where patients can touch, feed and care for her.
The majority of its 38 patients are referred by the NHS for treatment for addictions and eating disorders.
Louise Helsdown, the occupational therapist running the programme, said snakes were a “fantastic aid” in helping people recover from mental health problems.