One of the three organizations our 2010 Pino Pie Day will raise money for is El Refugio del Burrito. From a recent blog post on their site:
The physical and emotional benefits that the animals offer to the patients have been recently recognised in psychiatric hospitals and residential homes for the elderly. It has been well documented that the animals have a calming effect on the patients.
Furthermore donkeys are the centre of attention for the children, even the most agitated, nervous child becomes calmer when stroking or talking to the donkeys. A secret shared with a donkey will never be revealed, as it may be if it were to be shared with another human.
I'd really like to work this way with our donkeys but I just haven't made the right connections here.