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Last, but not least, are fish. Although an unfriendly person is sometimes referred to as a “cold fish,” this expression is something of a misnomer. Although it is true that fish are cold-blooded, many studies have found that aquarium fish can have a beneficial effect on people who watch them swim gracefully in their tank. That is why doctors’ and dentists’ offices sometimes feature an aquarium in the waiting room, to help nervous patients relax. A study conducted in the 1980s concluded that watching fish decreased a person’s blood pressure to below the level of someone sitting comfortably in a chair and simply resting. Watching fish was also found to produce a state of calm relaxation, and to be especially beneficial for elderly people. Fish are the mostly unsung heroes of the animal therapy world. They prove that bigger isn’t always better, and that even though the dog may still be man’s best friend, that circle of friends is almost as wide as the entire animal kingdom.

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