Furry new neighbours move in to continuing care centre
Published Friday, June 6, 2008 6:25PM MDT
Not every new neighbour can get the people talking like Vinnie and Mabel.
The Kipnes Centre for Veterans welcomed back some of its most popular residents Friday, as part of a unique initiative that is leading the way for senior's care in Canada.
Vinnie, a miniature horse, and Mabel, a pot-bellied pig, moved back into the centre as a gift from Hearts and Hooves, an organization that links animals up with continuing care facilities.
"A horse and a pig in a place like this? I never thought of that," resident John McIntosh said.
The program is back after its widely successful first year where the animals acted as a unique form of pet therapy for the local veterans.
Pet therapy is a form of care known to have a positive effect on the resident's physical, emotional and social interactions with others.
Tracey Mann, a recreation therapist at Kipnes, said the veterans' response to the program has exceeded any of their expectations.
"Watching the seniors' faces, that's why I do it," she said. "That's why I work the extra hours. It's heartwarming."
Cliff Beamish, who has been living at Kipnes for two years, said the animals help remind him of his youth.
As a young man growing up, Beamish grew up on the farm with the standard critter staples of horses and pigs.
"You get tired of looking at the same faces," he said. "It's something different."
Vinnie and Mabel will live at Kipnes for the summer months in the building's specialty-built barn and enclosure.
With files from Rob McAnally