Written by Yana Alderfer
As we all know, throughout our lives we make friends along the way. Each friend we make helps us become a better version of ourselves. But it’s not just other people, it’s also those furry friends we make. Pets help us reduce stress and loneliness. When we are walking our pets, we are more likely to start a conversation with someone else than if we were walking alone. They will be by our side when we need comfort or protection. They are “man’s best friend.”
Paxton, a miniature horse, visited Maple Farm on June 5 and Garden Spot Village on June 22. Paxton is from Lone Oak, an animal-assisted therapeutic and educational service. Lone Oak is a company that helps horses who have been through trauma, like abuse or neglect, heal, and in return, those horses help humans who have been through the same. It’s a way for people to build trust and relationships. A way for people to accept challenges, problems and flaws that may have held them back. Animals, especially horses, can reach people on a level that other humans simply cannot.
Laura Feiser, director of activities at Maple Farms, shared that Paxton’s visit encouraged residents to spend time together, in common spaces and outside. His visit was all most of them could talk about for the rest of the week. Laura says, “It created a lasting happy memory for the residents.” In return, Paxton got to enjoy lots of attention by sharing lots of kisses.
At Garden Spot Village, many residents and staff were able to pet Paxton. The interactions were overall positive. The understanding staff from Lone Oak asked if was okay for Paxton to come into residents’ spaces and if it wasn’t they moved on to the next resident. The staff even let one of the residents give Paxton treats. Just like at Maple Farm, the visit brought everyone together. People engaged with friends, old and new, as they shared stories about their previous interactions with horses.
The events were so successful that future visits have been planned to introduce additional residents and team members to Paxton.