Art of Aging: Chibi's visits bring smiles to seniors

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A Hatboro nursing home has a regular guest to give the residents some much-needed companionship.

A Hatboro nursing home has a regular guest to give the residents some much-needed companionship.

The elderly residents don't get out as much as they'd like at Luther Woods, but, frequently, the outside world comes to them.

Chibi is a rescued miniature horse who delights in human contact as much as the humans enjoy nuzzling with her.

Ninety-eight-year-old resident Marian McCullough said, "I think that that is a real real treat - something that we don't see too often and I am thrilled to pieces with that beautiful horse."

Ann Affleck, resident and 90-years-old added, "It makes you feel good to see the horse come in and it does my heart good. It's like having your own cat or dog." (smile)

Chibi's owners, the Alameda family of Medford, saved her from neglect, and regularly bring her to schools, nursing homes and more, so that people can interact with the friendly mare.

Justin Alameda of Minis of Medford said, "We do it because we enjoy being able to make a difference through the power of the animals. They have the biggest smiles across their faces and you've made their day or week for them."

Randie Duretz, Director of Activities at Luther Woods said, "Well, first of all, they go and tell their families, 'a horse was here,' and the families go 'oyyy', a horse was here, really, really, really - but it is true."

"The bond that they have with some of the residents here, you can see it when you look at them. I mean they butt heads together and they'll just sit there for a good 30 seconds to a minute," said Alameda.

The generosity of the Alameda family, the creativity at Luther Woods and the receptive nature of the residents make Chibi's visits pretty spectacular for all involved.

For more stories about seniors, visit our Art of Aging section.

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