You need chickens.
And here's why. Non-traditional service animals provide emotional support, inspiration, a reason to get going every day...and they want to be your best friend! Plus, you'll look cool.
Chickens are providing all of these things to residents living in a nursing facility in Gateshead, England. The senior citizens of Shadon House have something to crow about! The successful program was initiated by Henpower, an arts therapy group who have a clucking good motto, "henergizing older people's lives." Nearly fifty senior citizen facilities have welcomed in the hen therapy program. The results are amazing.
Chickens provide affection, purpose and their charming personalities yield a blow to the tragic effects of loneliness.
Hens and roosters come in over 300 breeds varying in size from that of a pigeon to 12 pound teddy bears! There truly is a chicken for everyone. What makes these birds so special is their adaptability. Here are just a few reasons to add these fluffy birds to your life:
• Chickens are easy to care for. They do not require walking or specialized training. Chickens readily attach to humans and have a unique charisma.
• They do not bite, are small, don't shed...and they have no odor.
• Chickens are highly social animals that are verbal/visual - just like us! We have so much in common.
• Chicken droppings make great compost. And this means you will have to start a garden!
• Chickens rarely trigger allergies. Because they're birds, they are innately fastidiously clean. Their independent nature and intelligence allows them to interact with humans on a profound level.
• Caring for chickens enables individuals to cultivate a renewed sense of purpose. Birds empower us!
Henpower participants have enjoyed a newfound optimism, happiness and an invigorated feeling of ambition. The program's success is truly astounding - although chicken keepers were happy to say "told ya so."
Therapist Jos Forester-Melville says with a smile, "We’re quite keen not to promote it as ‘hen therapy’ just because it's so much more than that. It’s sort of all-encompassing and encourages .... people to support each other and empower other older people to take up a new interest."
If you'd like to learn more about adding some feathered friends to your life, contact Black Thistle Farm. As Grandma Moses said, "if I hadn't started painting, I would have raised chickens."
Why not do both?
Photo Courtesy: Black Thistle Farm Chicken Rescue