Therapy turtles bring happiness to seniors
You’ve probably met a therapy dog or cat before pets used to soothe people in times of need.
But what about a therapy turtle?
At a senior center outside of Baltimore an African spurred tortoise is the most popular visitor.
« It’s real cute! I never saw a turtle with a dress on. It’s real unique I think, » said Wendy Linder, Catonsville, Maryland.
Wasabi, known as « Sabi, » « dresses to impress making patients like 83-year-old Linder laugh and forget their troubles.
Linder lost her husband a couple of years ago.
« It lifts up my spirits, » said Linder.
Sabi gets along with other therapy pets too, although they don’t always know what to make of her, people, though, have no doubts.
« She’s adorable, she walks around here, I think it’s so great they make our day here when they come and visit, they really do, » said Toby Eagle, Catonsville Senior Center volunteer.
Wasabi’s the life of the party now but she wasn’t always this social. She had to overcome some challenges of her own.
« She would eat at night and any interaction with me she was terrified. She just withdrew, » said Lisa Chicarella, pet owner.
Chicarella was patient and persistent when she rescued Wasabi 8 years ago talking to the turtle often, allowing her to acclimate.
Then one day, wasabi just popped out.
« Everybody lights up, everybody wants to know all about her, » said Chicarella
Reporter Weijia Jiang: She’s actually helping people do what she did to overcome whatever fear?
Chicarella: Yes, that’s true. She really came out of her shell.
A nd this frilly tortoise is proving sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.
Researchers say that animal assisted therapy, no matter what the animal is, can lead to health benefits like lower blood pressure and better mental outlook.