Wish Nation

Animal therapy: Back to the Basics

Hatcher's dolphin therapy
Upon seeing a Make-A-Wish kid and a dolphin, many people think "how cute." But a deeper look reveals this interaction with nature can spark life in kids like Hatcher. It unleashes their abilities to connect with others. Read more ...

The dolphin splashes. Hatcher splashes. The dolphin squeaks and squeals. Hatcher squeaks and squeals. It’s simple. It feels natural.  He connects and embraces.

Hatcher’s wish awakens his need for communication. To his mom, “he came alive.”

He’s in dolphin therapy.

Yes, traditional therapy - where one medical professional human works with an individual in specific health areas - works.

But there’s something to be said in using animals for therapeutic purposes.

Animals take us back to the basics. Simple.  Natural. Without the everyday commotions and stressors that generally fill our lives.

Years before I started to work for Make-A-Wish®, I volunteered with an equestrian therapy group. We gave kids horseback-riding lessons, working with physical ailments, emotional disorders and mental developments.

Animals can’t judge. They don’t add expectation.

And animals don’t speak our language. They interact with us solely on behavioral instincts, facial expressions and actions.

In order for kids at the stables to get the horses to go where they want them to go, they have to throw out the noise and connect their minds and bodies to the horses. Horses feel their rider movements and they connect to their riders emotions.

Animal therapy forces the patient to connect to those basic instincts. In doing so, something just clicks. I’ve seen it.

A 4-year-old begins to sway her hips in coordination with the horses. A child with an emotional disorder practices neutralizing his mind and senses.

At first glance, Hatcher’s wish may simply seem cute. He swims with dolphins.

But these wishes will always capture me because I know the power animal interactions can have for kids like Hatcher. They spark life and rejuvenate spirits.

Find out for yourself. Read about the impact of Hatcher’s wish, and other animal-related wishes like his.

I dare you not to be inspired.

About this Blog

Wish Nation gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Make-A-Wish®. See how wishes come together and how they change lives forever. Hear directly from those who work or volunteer here, or those who have been transformed by a wish. And learn why we are so committed to someday granting the wish of every eligible child, every year.

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