I have been registered with Pet Partners since 2006. I have had as many as seven llamas registered at once, but currently, there are five.  The miniature horse joined the team in 2017 and is doing mostly end-stage hospice work. In addition to my role as a handler, I am an evaluator for Pet Partners. I am grateful for the ability to work under Pet Partners as the organization is incredibly supportive and professional. There is no other organization like them in the country.

I am especially proud of the work that my animals are doing, and the difference they make for others. My two senior therapy llamas, Flight and Marisco, are some of the most perceptive and kind llamas you could ever meet. Flight is the one I mainly take places. She is a total ham who not only entertains but reads people and adjusts to their comfort level. She can always be counted on to work a crowd with her kisses and hugs. Her enjoyment is obvious by her ears being up and the fact she always looks incredibly happy to be doing what she does! One lady requested a horse visit, but after spending time with Monte the miniature horse, we brought in Marisco the llama. From that day on, she was hooked on the llamas! She sat staring up at him for an hour that first time and was totally in the zone talking to him and petting him.

One of my very first visits with Monte the miniature horse was with a man who dearly loved horses. They asked me to bring Monte to visit him on short notice. Sensing it was important, we set everything aside and went down to visit. Upon entering the man’s room, I immediately noticed he had horse pictures all over his walls. Monte walked right up to his bed without hesitation and all the equipment around.  The man’s joy was evident, and he struggled to sit up. I moved Monte’s head toward his to be able to easily interact with him. Monte reached over and began to slowly lick the man’s face. The man closed his eyes and said, “This is my best day ever!” To this day, I have only seen Monte do this twice and both times it was with end-stage hospice clients. Being able to provide this kind of comfort to someone in their final days is an honor.

Story submitted by Niki Kuklenski