In the “strange-but-true” department is a study from 1992 sponsored by the American Diabetes Association which found that companion animals of diabetes changed behaviors in obvious ways when their owner’s blood sugar dipped dangerously low. This has led to the formation of a group called Dogs4Diabetics that trains service dogs for high-risk diabetes patients. It is not clear how the companion animals identify hypoglycemia in their owners.
Finally, while most health benefits have been credited to dogs, cats, and horses, there really is no reason that other animals cannot be included as health-enhancers. Critterish Allsorts in England does animal therapy and extends the usual dog and cat menagerie to include turtles, fish, and even snakes. With appropriate supervision, any type of animal—particularly an unusual one—can stimulate social interaction and bring on conversation and uplift moods. That’s why Critterish Allsorts includes in its traveling nursing home animal show a tamed and de-scented skunk—which often gets normally withdrawn residents talking and asking questions.