UC Davis undergraduate, 4th year
Major: Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology
Care Bear giving me kisses
During a team meeting a couple of weeks ago, Becca mentioned to Jessie that she wanted her to start thinking about which mini horse or donkey would be best to treat certain conditions. As we worked on training the pigs this week, I couldn’t help but evaluate this suggestion and examine their personalities closer. I began to wonder: which pig would be most effective in treating specific illnesses? Are their personalities even different enough to support this approach?
In my opinion, the short answer is an emphatic: YES!! But then I began to think about a conversation Claire and I had about our shared struggle with social anxiety. I realized that while the three pigs could offer therapy for very different issues, it would also be interesting and more applicable to Claire and I if all three pigs offered different approaches to the same issue.
Care Bear piggy dipping in the piggy pond
Let’s start with Care Bear. She simultaneously fulfills the shy younger sibling and the motherly roles in the group. She is definitely timid about certain new experiences, but also has a quiet strength about her. She keeps her siblings in check and is always the calmest of the crew. As I observed Care Bear snuffling around with her brother and sister, I thought to myself, Who could she help? The short answer is: everyone and anyone. A quiet force like Care Bear could be a huge comfort for anyone who needs a bit of support. But social anxiety, in particular, could be a good focus for Care Bear. Her calm resilience has the ability to bring someone out of their shell and allow them to interact with their surroundings in an environment that feels safe and supportive.
Romeo is a dork in every sense of the word. He is the epitome of the younger brother, constantly getting himself covered in various substances and always annoying his sisters. He is independent, often opting to root around the straw while his sisters cuddle up to us for pets. He zooms around the stall causing a silly ruckus. He is like a small, pig-shaped circus clown. In my mind, he could cheer anyone up in the blink of an eye. Romeo is a conversation starter! Interaction with him might help someone with social anxiety relate with peers more fluidly. His behavior and personality allow people observing and interacting with him to break the ice and shift the focus of the conversation from themselves to a third party. Romeo could act as a wonderful middle man in fostering natural bonds and deescalating social anxieties.
Finally, there is Jelly Bean. She is the most bossy of the clan, squealing at the top of her tiny pig lungs at mealtimes. She insists on being the first pig that we train each day, and she races across the ranch land on our walks like a bullet train. Oftentimes, low self-confidence and social anxiety go hand in hand, and I believe that Jelly Bean could be a perfect asset in these areas. I think it could be a beneficial tactic for her to draw out a feeling of self-assurance in people with low self- confidence. In order to successfully bond with strong-willed Jelly Bean, you do have to put yourself out there. When the softer, calmer side of Jelly Bean finally reveals itself, it brings about a feeling of accomplishment. This pig is ideal for boosting confidence and nurturing anxiety.
Romeo and Jelly Bean destroying a berry ice treat
Thinking about the long-term ways the piglets could help people makes me so excited for the future of this project. One day, I hope to be lucky enough to witness my theories above
becoming reality. For now, I can only testify that all three of these animals continually make me feel safe, allow me to bond with my peers, and have nurtured my own self-confidence.
Green Care Blog
Here you can find blog posts from each Green Care Lab intern. We'll be talking about our research process, the benefits of Green Care therapy, and sharing pictures of our work. Follow along with us!