Therapy pony Dietrich brings patients relief

Animal News : Therapy pony Dietrich brings relief to patients at hospices in Russia
A patient strokes pony Dietrich at a palliative care centre in Moscow, Russia, credit: Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina

Anastasia Kozyr and her pony Dietrich have been visiting hospices around Moscow for over a year, bringing some relief to patients who are in palliative care.

“I’ve been looking for many years on social media at owners of miniature horses and ponies in Europe and the United States. It’s very common there, they go to hospices and nursing homes, hospitals,” Kozyr told news agency Reuters.

“I’ve always wanted to do the same, but I didn’t know what to start with, who to turn to. I thought here in Moscow (Russia) it’s unrealistic to do,” she said.

Through a friend, she got in touch with the Tsaritsino hospice, which was happy to have her and her pony come to visit. Since November last year, they have been visiting hospices in Moscow.

Dietrich is a 23-year-old pony who is not shy and is very playful. “Dietrich is just wonderful. I want to share him with everybody. I thought that people in hospices didn’t have an opportunity to visit a stable or have contact with animals. I think they lack this animal companionship and warmth,” Kozyr said.

Medical staff and hospice professionals in Moscow agree with Kozyr. Many of their patients miss being able to pet an animal, so Dietrich’s visits are a joyful and positive distraction for some long-term patients.

“I take pleasure in being able to give people this opportunity to touch a beautiful, furry, soft and kind animal,” Kozyr said.

Animals have been used to support people with different health issues in many parts of the world. They have a range of benefits for humans, such as releasing endorphins and reducing loneliness. Dogs are often seen in hospitals and care homes, mainly to help relieve stress and lift spirits.

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