IT was a teary moment for staff at Uniting Mirinjani nursing home in Weston when Henry Pearce, 81, was reunited with Maverick, a four-year-old miniature horse.
In more normal times, Maverick visits nursing homes and hospitals for pet therapy but since the outbreak of covid, he has been prevented from visiting the elderly residents of Mirinjani from his home in Bungendore.
Residents stayed in touch during the pandemic through weekly 45-minute “walks” around the farm over FaceTime.
But with restrictions easing, Maverick was able to make his in-person return on Tuesday (December 15).
Uniting Mirinjani leisure and wellness co-ordinator Jo Sumner says she could tell from Henry’s excited face “how he felt about it”.
While Henry’s “a bit of a loner” and doesn’t have any family, Jo says he always comes out of his room for Maverick’s visits.
When it comes to the miniature horse, Henry is the “leader of the pack”, says Jo.
“[Henry] walked [Maverick] over to his community and to all the residents.”
Pet therapy makes a big impact on residents, according to Jo, and with several more visits planned as the new “covid normal” is established, Henry won’t be the only resident excited to see Maverick continue to return.
Shirley Finnegan, 86, who is blind, also loves Maverick’s visits. And, “although she can’t see him, she can feel him,” Jo says.
“He nuzzles her like he knows she can’t see him. Maverick even fell asleep in Shirley’s lap.”