Meet a very special friend of mine named Jack, a miniature horse and orphan at birth. He was the perfect choice to help me get started with my pet-assisted therapy project. I made a trip to the Riverside Convalescent Center in Saluda, Virginia, to arrange a little visit for us on a Saturday afternoon. Not sure how the residents would react and how Jack would react to them. The day finally arrived, and after Jack got “beautiful,” or trimmed up and bathed, we were off. My husband came along to take pictures, and a friend came to help and experience the visit for herself.
As we arrived at the Convalescent Center and walked up to the door, residents were sitting in the halls in wheelchairs peering through the window and anticipating our arrival. The reception that Jack received was truly amazing. The residents could not wait to touch and pet him. Jack was in heaven!
We wound our way through the Convalescent Center visiting as many people as we could. There were happy tears as I saw the effect Jack was having. Even the most physically challenged residents smiled and tried to pet him. We heard stories of animals they once owned and how those animals touched their lives.
We spent an hour at the Center visiting with the residents in the halls and even at the bedside. It was an extraordinary experience for all of us.
Recently, Jack got a new Christmas blanket and skid-proof booties. He wants to go on a new journey, so I’m wondering where we will go.
People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But, people will never forget how you made them feel (Maya Angelou)
Terry Kellum, RN
ICU/CCU, Riverside Walter Reed Hospital
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