Pet Assisted Therapy Program - Lollypop Farm

Published 04/16 2012 03:10PM

Updated 04/24 2012 11:10AM

Once a month at The Gables at Brighton, life goes to the dogs. And the cats. And the rabbits too! Residents like Mary Yerazunis wouldn't have it any other way.

"I think she's beautiful, and so quiet!" Mary says about a cat named Gracie. "Doesn't matter whether she knows you or not, she just sits there and waits for you to pet her some more."

These special visitors come from the Pet Assisted Therapy Program at Lollypop Farm. Joette Hartman is the coordinator. She oversees some 60 volunteers and their pets. They visit hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

Joette's pet is a rabbit named Jack. "It's wonderful," she says. "One of the women said it's good for him and good for me and she's right about that. They just find it very relaxing, they can provide comfort, motivation, inspiration and joy to the people. They have all sorts of questions, they're very inquisitive, and they just really seem to enjoy it."

Sometimes, these visits take folks back in time. Helen Gamble grew up with pets.  "We had dogs and cats at our home in the Adirondacks where I grew up, so I always enjoyed animals," she says. So did Primo Re. "It just wakes up everybody," he says. "This is wonderful. It's what the old people need, a dog or a cat or any animal. It wakes everybody up. Look, they're all coming around."

This special program at Lollypop Farm is 20 years old and going strong, thanks to places like The Gables. Year after year, visit after visit, with a smile and a special touch, residents get the benefit of the healing power of pets.

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