Animal therapy program brings joy to Chartwell Whispering Pines

Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, is the loving interaction between a person and a trained animal. The purpose of animal-assisted therapy is to bring the care and affection of animal interaction to people who do not have the ability to visit animals on their own. It can be a therapeutic and positive approach to lifting one's spirits, as residents and staff at Chartwell Whispering Pines discovered.

On October 23, "Giddy Up 'N' Go Ponies" visited the retirement community and set up a petting zoo—which included llamas, chickens, bunnies and goats— to visit the residents as a part of their animal therapy program.

Furry friends bring smiles to faces 
When the animals arrived at the home, residents were excited to interact with them, and many who were once farmers were also eager to reminisce and share stories about the animals they once owned. 

Diana Simpson, General Manager at Chartwell Whispering Pines, explains that her residents reacted to the animals with enthusiasm.

"It was so amazing to see their faces when they were petting the baby bunnies," says Simpson. "They absolutely loved them!"

'Giddy Up and Go Pony's' brought goats, chickens and other farm animals to Chartwell Whispering Pines. (will use photo when they give me one)"
Giddy Up 'N' Go Ponies" brought goats, chickens and other farm animals to Chartwell Whispering Pines.

Aside from farm animals, Simpson notes that pets are also welcome at the residence.

"The families of our residents often bring in their dogs, and everyone enjoys that," she says. "Staff at our front desk are so used to furry visitors, they always have treats on hand!"

The power of animal therapy 
Staff at Chartwell Whispering Pines have witnessed firsthand the power of animal therapy, and are therefore always looking for opportunities to bring in furry friends to interact with the residents and bring joy to their lives.

"Animal therapy is amazing," says Simpson. "Our residents' faces light up anytime they see an animal."

Besides the visit from "Giddy Up 'N' Go Ponies," therapy dogs visit Chartwell Whispering Pines every week, walking door-to-door to greet residents. In the next few weeks, Simpson hopes to get a litter of Golden Retrievers to visit residents.

Not only does the animal therapy at Chartwell Whispering Pines act as a therapeutic way to lift spirits, it also creates an incredible bonding experience between residents and staff.

"Everyone always gathers together when the animals visit," says Simpson. "It's so nice to see everyone get together and share their stories."

Click here to check out CTV Barrie's news coverage of the event.