The Dunmore Equestrian Centre helped arrange a petting zoo for two different seniors care homes on Monday, complete with mini donkeys, a sheep, a chicken, a dog and a few kittens.
Joyce Stuber with the Dunmore Equestrian Centre was at Sunnyside long term care in South Country Village on Monday afternoon with the small petting zoo. The group was also at the Good Samaritan South Ridge Village retirement home earlier in the day.
“One of our missions is to help seniors enjoy something just a little different from their normal routine,” said Stuber. “We’ve done petting zoos in the past with them and I just purchased some mini donkeys two years ago and they’re so tame and they just love people, so it’s working out really good. And then I just phone up some neighbours and ask them to bring more animals.”
One of Stuber’s friends who brought extra animals was Shelby Munro, who has a ranch just west of Redcliff. Her kids Ella and Hunter were in attendance, helping residents pet their sheep and chicken.
“I love watching my kids interact and I love seeing the residents smile,” said Munro. “It’s so exciting for them!”
Nicole Stroh, who has been the recreational therapist for South Country Village for the past 27 years, was very happy when Stuber contacted her with the idea.
“We haven’t been having a lot of activities, so this is extra special,” said Stroh. “It actually meets a lot of domains, like social. It is also physical because it’s touch, sensory. It does a lot of therapeutic things in a fun way, and they don’t even know it. The residents in wheelchairs with limited mobility, to get them to reach, to pet, to open their hands, to get them to do all that is so great.”
Norm Smith, who is a resident of Sunnyside, was in attendance with his wife Norma. They loved being out in the fresh air with other people and the animals.
“The animals are the top, for us and the kids,” said Norm.
Norma said “it’s good seeing kids and animals, just something different.”
Stuber loved watching the residents with the animals.
“Just look at their faces,” Stuber said, motioning to the group of residents gathered in a circle. “They are enjoying themselves, they’re petting and interacting. Even the ones that aren’t, it’s something different to watch and to talk about.”
South Country Village is also taking this chance to host a parade on Thursday, with many volunteers, including the Dunmore Equestrian Centre.
“There is no Medicine Hat Stampede Parade because of COVID so they started their own parade,” said Stuber. “Nicole phoned me and asked if we wanted to be involved. We’ll bring our team and wagon from Dunmore Equestrian.”
Stroh says the South Country Village Parade used to happen annually, but hasn’t taken place for many years.
“I thought it was a great time to bring back the parade,” said Stroh. “We have about 25 entries. We have the Stampede Queen and Princess coming, as well as this year’s competitors, and Miss Rodeo Canada.”
There will be many other floats, including the Mayor, fire department and vintage cars. Stroh also said many residents are getting in on the parade as well.
“They are decorating chairs, they’ve been making flowers this whole month, making pom poms and fluffing them, so we’ve been able to get everyone involved.”
You can see the parade around Sunnyside Long Term Care Facility in South Country Village on Thursday at 10.
LAUREN THOMSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News