They love unconditionally, never judge and always know who needs company or an extra cuddle. They are the much-loved pets who have become an important part of the family at Baptistcare’s Moonya Residential Care in Manjimup.
Residents enjoy weekly doggy fuss with either Moss, Howard or Kip, there are canaries to look after and two Silkie Bantams have been testing out the proposed ‘chicken day care’.
Miniature horses will become part of the pet therapy program once they’ve completed their training and there has even been a visit from Ms Diamanté, a pet python belonging to Suzette Starling, Lifestyle Coordinator at Baptistcare Moonya.
While Ms Diamanté’s visit was a big hit and lots of photos were taken with residents keen to be introduced to the pet snake, it’s Moss, Ms Starling’s Border Collie who has become one of the most popular animal visitors.
Moss has been visiting Baptistcare Moonya for the past two years and has formed special bonds with many of the male residents who had working dogs or pet pooches.
“Moss knows how to get the best out of our residents and loves their cuddles,” Ms Starling said. “He’s become part of the furniture, especially in the memory support units.
“His coat’s smooth and very silky, and residents love to stroke him. He loves the attention of course. Some residents like to take him for a walk and others just like to sit and watch, and this has a calming effect for them.
“For most of our residents in Manjimup it was always normal having pets and farm animals around and even in the town they had chickens,” Ms Starling said.
Not only do the visiting animals contribute to the homely environment at Baptistcare Moonya, but pet therapy has been shown to bring a wide range of benefits.
Residents share stories about their own lives and pets, encouraging social chatter and building friendships.
“And when a resident is feeling down and lonely, these pets always pick them up. To me they are the unsung heroes of therapy,” Ms Starling said.
The Silkie Bantams are owned by therapy partner Sue Kerri and her children. The loveable chooks currently spend time indoors with residents, sitting happily on their laps. When the weather clears, the Silkies will be outside, interacting with residents enjoying morning or afternoon tea.
“You can never get enough pet therapy,” Ms Starling said. “Pets give love unconditionally, they never judge you and they have a keen perception of who to go and sit with or cuddle with.”