In a world full of heavy news and heartbreak, a little bit of joy can go a long way. So often these days, we are finding those moments of happiness in our pets—and some pets are trained and ready to deliver them, too!
Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, is a practice that promotes interaction with certified dogs, cats, or other animals as a method for coping with physical or mental stressors (Mayo Clinic).
To make your day a little brighter, we’ve rounded up some furry friends whose mission is to bring a smile to your face.
From visiting children in hospitals to easing traveler anxiety at airports, meet 10 exceptional therapy pets who are sharing their furry, feathery, and fluffy super powers with anyone in need.
Pigeons may be one of the least common therapy animals, which makes Jhun that much more special! This sweet little therapy bird, boasting gorgeous white feathers and a permanent smile on her beak, brings her unique talents to Pet Partners, an organization that celebrates the human-animal bond with animal-assisted therapy in a variety of settings.
A pair of Pugs in snow gear? Day made. Zombie and Crowley are one of the cutest duos of the Insta-world and they’ve got a full schedule on their plate of kibble. Not only is Zombie a working therapy dog, he’s also an ambassador of Toronto-based Pugalug Pug Rescue. Hard-working Zombie is often featured alongside little brother Crowley, who is following in his big bro’s paw steps as a therapy dog-in-training!
Is there anything more wholesome than a squad of Golden Retrievers whose sole purpose is to spark joy? Enter Gunny and sibling Jarvis (both certified therapy dogs), and the other stars of Gunny’s ‘Gram, Memphis (“certified derp”) and “crazy pup” Max. All of these dogs will make you smile, and to top it off, Gunny volunteers at the same hospital where his human beat cancer!
Airports can be a source of anxiety for many. To make your travel day a bit easier, Xeli the therapy cat takes on shifts at the Denver International Airport to provide travelers with some much-needed stress relief and happily accepts cuddles and pets from strangers. Xeli might be a working kitty, but she also enjoys her downtime and leisurely lounging—as seen by her adorable Instagram photos.
Teddy may be tiny—five pounds to be exact—but he’s got plenty of joy to share! This therapy dog-in-training has already passed a number of certifications and loves to keep nursing home residents company. His petite size means he’s easily able to sit on laps and beds, a skill he can bring to the hospitals and oncology units he plans to visit, too!
Little Lennie may not have his own Instagram but he’s an essential part of the Noah’s A.R.T team in Manchester, England. This family-run animal therapy group offers one-on-one therapy, school sessions, and community-wide events. Their mission is to utilize the special “human-animal bond to improve mental health and wellbeing” and it’s plain to see that star-of-the-show Lennie helps with just that!
One look at Paisley’s face and your spirits are sure to be lifted. Paisley is certified with the American Mini Pig Association Therapy Pet Program, which promotes therapeutic services with trained and friendly mini pigs! Not only does AMPA assist these unique pets in becoming therapy animals, the program also educates on responsible mini pig ownership.
Looking into these baby blue eyes is therapeutic in itself. Narwhal is a fabulous feline registered as a therapy pet in Nashville. This gorgeous Siamese-tabby mix volunteers with Love on a Leash, a nonprofit organization that brings certified therapy animals to care facilities and wellness events.
Molly is a cuddly Goldendoodle who visits kids at hospitals and we doubt there is any better way to help brighten a child’s day. Certified dogs are routinely used for animal-assisted therapy in medical facilities, and, offering her paw for comfort, it’s easy to see why Molly can ease the stress of being in a hospital.
Alex the Flemish Giant rabbit is a bit of a local celebrity. His claim to fame was appearing at the San Francisco Giants vs. Miami Marlins game where he took an iconic selfie, but this social bunny is more than just a cute face. Alex is also a registered therapy animal with the SFO Wag Brigade, a team of therapy animals who work at the San Francisco Airport.