Each day, 1 FUR 1 Foundation works to support animal assisted therapy and activity programs. Often, those programs involve familiar companion animals such as cats and dogs. But as animal-assisted therapies gain in popularity, we’re seeing more programs centered around exotic creatures and even marine life. We talked to Hannah Fraser, a model and dedicated marine-life activist, about how spending time with sea creatures can be therapeutic.
1 FUR 1 Foundation: You do a lot to help marine life. On the flip side, how has spending time with sea creatures helped you?
Fraser: I have had times in my life where things seemed overwhelming and emotionally turbulent. Being with animals during this time definitely calmed me and gave me a sense of purpose and a feeling a balance within the natural order of life itself.
1 FUR 1: What is it about spending time with animals that brings such healing?
Fraser: I feel like animals are extremely connected to the present moment.. the NOW. We as humans have this incredible faculty of forward thought and past memory, which has helped us to create and empower ourselves. However, it can also take us away from enjoying the present moment, and we become lost in thoughts of ‘what if’ or ‘should have done’. Being with animals creates an attention on the present moment that brings an immediate perspective to the magic of the NOW. Animals are generally inquisitive, interactive, and totally honest. It’s refreshing!
1 FUR 1: Tell us a bit about your experiences swimming with dolphins.
Fraser: I have swum with dolphins, and I can tell you that their energy is something very special! For some unknown reason, they emit such amazing amounts of joy and connectivity, playfulness and grace. I don’t know why we humans feel it so strongly, every person I’ve seen who swam with dolphins (that approached them with an open mind and heart) was totally blown away and excited by the encounter!
1 FUR 1: Do you think animal therapy programs will become more widely accepted in the next 10 years?
Fraser: I think as science continues to prove beyond a doubt that our interactions with animals are beneficial for our health and well-being, these programs will gain more support and acceptance.
1 FUR 1: We (1 FUR 1 Foundation) believe that animal-therapy programs have the potential to benefit animals as much as they help humans. Do you think that’s true?
Fraser: I don’t think animals should be kept in captivity to serve humans… I think the most beneficial encounters come when the animal and human meet on freedom of choice terms. Of course, if an animal is sick or injured, it is wonderful when humans can help and care for them and also benefit from the encounter. I also see that some animals are extremely happy to have close relationships with humans, such as dogs and cats who are well cared for in proper circumstances. I think humans are capable of intense love, and animals also feel that and thrive on it.
1 FUR 1: What specific conditions do you believe can be healed by spending time with marine creatures?
Fraser: I 100% believe that there are mental illnesses that can be alleviated by time spent with marine life… the physical act of swimming, being weightless in water, is good for the health and is pleasurable for humans. When we interact with amazing marine life, we create inspiring experiences that show us how we can make friends with even the most alien creatures on this planet, and live in harmony with our surroundings in a symbiotic relationship. This can change your perspective when you feel disconnected, alienated, alone, depressed, sad or overwhelmed.