As with any facility aimed at providing care to folks, visitation is strictly monitored at nursing homes. But just last week, a Michigan nursing home welcomed an unusual visitor – an adorable Clydesdale named Renee.
Affectionately known as Neigh-Neigh, administrators report the horse warmed the hearts of every resident at their nursing home during her visit.
In a situation described as pet therapy on steroids, Neigh-Neigh made her rounds of the home, bringing everyone out of their rooms. Even residents who typically rarely go to activities or leave their rooms to socialize made a point to say hello to the friendly horse.
One heartwarming photo shows the horse gently approaching an elderly woman in a wheelchair in the hallway outside her room. The woman’s face is lifted towards Neigh-Neigh’s, close enough to nuzzle, and she is smiling.
Some folks on the nursing home’s staff said that it couldn’t possibly work to bring the Clydesdale into the nursing home. Others disagreed, and contacted a horse-handling contractor to see about letting Neigh-Neigh take a tour of the facility. They felt that bringing a horse inside was exactly what was needed, since many of the senior residents have mobility issues that prevent them from going outside.
All it took was a little patience to put the plan into motion — and someone to follow the horse around with a bucket.
Administrators said the event turned out to be one of the most moving days they’ve ever experienced. While the emotional encounter was originally scheduled to be an hour long, Neigh-Neigh stayed for two and a half hours. She met each and every resident, and even put her head in some folks’ laps.
One woman in memory care, a section of the facility helping people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, became visibly excited as Neigh-Neigh approached her, and the two put their heads together. This unique and therapeutic experience, and the residents’ reactions, brought a tear to many eyes on that special day.
Photos: Village of East Harbor Senior Living Community