Back To Cuddly Robots

Our pets give us unwavering support and at times of pressure or stress help to lower our cortisol levels. Of course, there are other times when they get into something that they’re not supposed to that they add to our stress levels, but by and large, companion animals are good for us and are recommended to improve our quality of life as we age.

It is not always possible to have our own cat or dog so what are we going to do? We can of course talk to the passing dogs as they are being walked. Mostly they appreciate the attention, but not always. Anyway, these brief encounters are no real substitute.

The alternative is the touchy-feely robot. Previous posts have talked about Paro last year. Paro is the baby Harp seal robot that comes in white (mostly) or dark gray so it doesn’t show the dirt quite so much.

Paro is a very responsive robot who likes being stroked, talked to and picked up and held. It wriggles with pleasure, flapping its flippers appreciatively and squeaking like a baby Harp seal should, bring our cortisol levels crashing with each cuddle.

 He (or maybe she, whichever you feel is appropriate) does come through the mail at quite a high price though. At close to $7k he is a more serious commitment than anything but the most successful show animal, but unlike them there is no chance of stud fees or offspring to sell off to recoup the outlay.

An article in Discovery News reports that about a 19,000 people are still living in temporary housing, which was erected in a baseball stadium in northern Japan after the tsunami that occurred about one year ago (1). Paros are being offered to help reduce depression and as replacement for drowned pets that they can’t bear to replace. There are also Paros that are available for short term loan, rather like a library book.

Perhaps we should adopt this idea and have surgeries prescribe short term Paro house guests as an alternative to antidepressant drugs. It may prove a cheaper option in the long-term.


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