Thursday, October 22, 2020

Feeling Anxious? Go Hug a Cow

I’m not sure what this tells us about the practice of therapy today. I am not sure either what it tells us about the Netherlands. 

But, I feel compelled to report the latest advance in therapy. It comes from the Netherlands. I do not know whether it threatens to put licensed credentialed therapists out of business, but, you never know.

Here’s the story: if you are living in the Netherlands and want to reduce your stress and anxiety, you can book an appointment with a warm friendly cow-- the bovine variety-- and hug it out. Apparently, this produces serious psychic benefits. No kidding.

The Daily Mail has the report. (It reminds us again of Lizzie Crocker’s brilliant apercu-- what would we do without the Daily Mail. BTW, what ever happened to Lizzie Crocker?)

A growing wellness trend out of the Netherlands has people cuddling cows for comfort.

Called 'koe knuffelen' in Dutch — which translates to 'hugging cow' — the practice typically involves visiting a farm and spending several hours in the company of cows.

According to proponents of the trend, cow cuddling can be quite soothing thanks to the animal's warm temperature and size, and the oxytocin boost it leads to can even reduce stress.

The story continues:

According to the BBC, the Dutch trend is a form of self care that can bring 'serenity' to practitioners.

Hugging cows, rubbing them, or leaning up against them can be 'incredibly soothing' because the cows are big and warm and have a slower heartbeat. 

'Cow cuddling is believed to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans, the hormone released in social bonding,' the BBC explains. 'The calming effects of curling up with a pet or emotional support animal, it seems, are accentuated when cuddling with larger mammals.'

There are several farms in the Netherlands that offer the activity to visitors, including Koe Knuffelen in Voorst.  

'With us you only have one task, namely just enjoy. Our lovely animals are relaxed, sweet, and they have a curious nature. They have warm and sincere attention for you with a body temperature of no less than 39 degrees [Celsius],' reads their site in Dutch.

Of course, it is cheaper than therapy, and perhaps more effective. It seems to be a trend-- it has even gotten to New York State:

The trend has started to spread, and is now also offered at Mountain Horse Farm in Naples, New York, which hosts a Horse & Cow Experience for $75 an hour.

'It will be about finding a connection, getting close to the natural world, slowing down, taking time to take a breath, doing something new and exciting, finding peace & quietness and simply Be,' explains the farm's website. 

Prairie Conlon, a professional counselor and clinical director of CertaPet, told Yahoo that while it might seen 'odd,' it can also be 'a healthy way to increase activity and get those endorphins flowing, so why not?' 

'I have seen lives changed using equine-assisted psychotherapy,' she said. 'This does not involve riding the horse, which is a common misconception. This involves spending time with and reflecting on the animals’ movements and behaviors.

Of course, we all want to know whether these therapy cows have a license to do what they are doing. The acid test will come when insurance companies decide to pick up the tab. 

For your edification, here are two photos of real cow hugging sessions. Are you tempted yet?


Suzannemarie said...

Stuart, you are welcome any time. Come over and enjoy. I will get you a pair of clogs, a glass of milk and a raw herring. The wider background of this striking Dutch habit is probably not therapeutic. It is yet another way to lure urban residents to the countryside and letting them experience that it's not so bad there. Also that cows are sweet.

There is a huge battle raging between urban developers and farmers for land, especially in the overpopulated west of the country where the open grasslands are. Part of this battle is the bad reputation that farmers incessantly get from left-wing and green circles. Regulations are stifling and farming is becoming more and more difficult.

Cow hugging is brilliant guerilla.

trigger warning said...

Reminds me of the story about the Three Biggest Lies in Wyoming:

"I won this belt buckle in a rodeo, my trucks paid for and I was just helping that sheep over the fence."

370H55V said...

Ah, Wyoming, where men are men and sheep are scared.

As for the bovine hugging, just make sure it's not a trans-bull.

Anonymous said...

Lizzie got fired for plagiarism.

Sam L. said...

I don't think my neighbor farmers would appreciate me hugging their cows. I don't plan to give them a chance for me to find out.

You made me look up Lizzie Crocker!! As Elvis said, "Thang ya. Thang ya verrr muuuch!"

And, of course, you MUST be verrrrrry careful where you step. High top rubber boots are "de rigeur".

Stuart, thou hath put a SMIIIIIIIILE upon my face. (See Elvis, above.)

Janszoon said...

If there does turn out to be an evidence base for the therapeutic effect of cows, surely the case for an ‘emotional support cow’ when flying would be irrefutable. I look forward to taking Daisy aboard my next British Airways long haul flight!

David Foster said...

I suspect that the Equine part of this would work better if the people actually learned to *ride* the horses.

Gringo said...

Autistic children connect very well with horses. See Rupert Isaacson's books The Horse Boy and The Way Home. My horse-owning cousin has also observed this. Isaacson has used horses in programs treating autistic children.

If I were a farmer and could charge $75 an hour for someone to hug my cow, I'd do it in a minute.