Zebras, donkeys and goats — oh my!
Last week, senior residents at Oakmont of Valencia and their families had the opportunity to experience their weekly dose of pet therapy with some special guests from Giddy Up Ranch.
The ranch set up its mobile petting zoo in the Oakmont courtyard, allowing seniors the opportunity to pet a variety of animals, including a baby zebra, donkey, goats, alpacas, piglets, ducks, roosters, goats, sheep and even a bloodhound.
Audible “oohs” and “ahhs” were heard as Oakmont residents filed into the courtyard, getting their first peek at the special guests.
Those living with dementia often live a moment-to-moment lifestyle, and Oakmont’s goal is to fill their moments with therapeutic and joyous experiences, according to Megan Town and Jason Govier, sales specialists at Oakmont.
“Petting a zebra is not something you get to do every day. It’s something very much outside of the box,” Town said. “Sometimes when you can’t go on out to the zoo, having the beautiful place where you live provide that experience for you is an extra special thing.”
The visit was building on Oakmont’s dog therapy program, which allows seniors to connect with animals in a therapeutic environment every week.
“Science supports that animals calm the mood and allow our residents to engage and feel more like themselves,” added Govier.
Oakmont resident Barbara Brown was overjoyed to watch her great-granddaughters’ grins as they pet the various animals in the pen.
“It’s great, and they didn’t know they were coming,” Brown said of her great-granddaughters’ surprise animal excursion, adding that one of them loves animals. “She wants to stop at Petco every time she goes by, so this is really nice.”
Even the Oakmont staff enjoyed the chance to interact with the animals, including Oakmont’s maintenance director Kenneth Bedford, who noted that the highlight of his day was getting to help carry the sheep into the courtyard pen.
“It was so adorable,” he said.
“It’s as joyous for us to watch them as it is for them to experience it,” Town added.
While this was the first time working with Giddy Up Ranch, Oakmont hopes to make animal visits like this one a more frequent occurrence.