MOUNT VERNON — Mira Vista Care Center wanted to give its residents an experience to break up the monotony of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We wanted to do something special,” Admissions and Marketing Director Allison Fontaine said. “It’s hard being in this situation, so hard. You want to interact but can’t.”
The interaction Fontaine lined up for Thursday involved a llama, a pregnant miniature horse, a litter of puppies, two sheep and a goat.
All the animals except for Piper, the llama, are owned by a pair of nurses who work at the center.
Fontaine contacted the Hospice of the Northwest outreach team of Dana Brothers and Käaren Flint about bringing a llama to the care center.
“The request for an outdoor visit from Piper, the llama, was an easy one to fill,” Brothers said. “If it meant giving the residents at the facility a chance to get outdoors and visit with an animal, the outreach team was eager to help.”
Piper is a 3-year-old double-woolly (fancy fleece) breed owned by Brothers.
“Piper is a gelding llama who has parents that are registered therapy llamas,” Brothers said. “He will hopefully go through testing to get registered with Pet Partners of America this fall.”
Piper is no stranger to situations like these. Brothers said he has visited with those at senior housing communities before, though this was his first big outdoor event with other animals.
“We masked everyone up and got them outside,” Fontaine said of Mira Vista Care Center residents. “They got to watch them graze on a fenced piece of property that borders the center. It was absolutely awesome.”
It was exactly what the residents needed.
“Visits like these from animals are especially poignant since many of our residents are from farms in the Skagit Valley,” said Carl Moody, Mira Vista Care Center administrator. “We are so thankful the team came by to share the animals with our residents.”
And those unable to make it outside were still able to get a look at the animals.
“Some people couldn’t come out, so we walked the animals up to the windows so they could see them,” said Brothers. “It was a great experience.”