When we’re not feeling ourselves sometimes food or rest can help brighten our day and turn things around, but there’s something special about the bond between humans and animals.
For the past few months, Nemours Children's Specialty Care has had a new registered therapy animal that gallops in every now and then to help children reign in a new perspective of hope.
Buc is not your typical therapy animal, he is five years old and Dale and Chris Dunn’s American miniature horse.
Buc is the newest therapy animal to gallop into Nemours to greet patients and visitors. A journey that, like most at Nemours, has not come easily.
“Going between the two gates, he got a rope wrapped around his leg and it actually pulled his foot completely off," Dale Dunn said.
Vets gave Buc a 10 percent chance of surviving, but after a year in a prosthetic, his foot actually grew back.
He now runs, kicks and bucks as he used too -- giving Dale and Chris Dunn a chance to give back.
“It’s great that Buc has a prosthetic so people can see when he had an accident early in life that it helped him get back to being functional, and it’s the same thing for these kids,” said Michal Wright, director of prosthetics at Nemours.
“You wear your heart on your sleeve because the children are just amazing because sometimes they’ve never even seen a horse and they walk in here and their face lights up like a Christmas tree," Chris Dunn said.
While a quick pet behind the ears is sure to bring smiles to all, there are physical benefits.
“It’s been proven that it reduces blood pressure, it reduces heart rate, it works not only with behavioral health but with any type of medical setting," said Jennifer Pfieffer, clinical nurse specialist at Nemours.
“It helps us a lot too," Dale Dunn said. "It’s good therapy for us as well."
“It lowers my blood pressure and makes you feel warm all over," Chris Dunn said. "I always joke and say we go and spread love and smiles and that’s what he does."
Clearly, that’s not a joke, but reality.
Buc is actually the second therapy miniature horse at Nemours. The hospital is looking at expanding the program.
If you know of an animal that might be a good fit, you’re encouraged to contact Jennifer Pfieffer at Nemours or Pet Partners Organization at 904-631-7063. You can visit Pet Partners online at petpartnersnf.org.