Therapy llama is helping vulnerable groups in Oregon get through pandemic

Good News Notes:

“Caesar the llama has had a busy few months.

He’s been “leading” virtual story time with students, recording birthday videos, and even attending protests near his farm in Jefferson, Oregon.

Caesar is part of a growing trend known as llama therapy, which has become a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable populations, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Caesar’s handler, Larry McCool, brings him to nursing homes near his Mystic Llama Farm in Jefferson on a voluntary basis. Many nursing home residents, like the 48 elderly patients at The Oaks at Sherwood Park, haven’t had in-person contact with family or friends for four months.”

“Although social distancing measures prevent Caesar and McCool from physically entering the nursing home, merely seeing the creature through the window makes a difference in their day, one staff member said.

“It just brings them so much joy to see Caesar,” Sharon Alcaraz, the life enrichment director at the nursing home. “And also knowing that the community cares about them, that there’s people on the outside that are remembering that they’re in there by themselves. It’s not every day that they can look up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a llama at my window.'”

Llamas like Caesar that are calm and sociable make ideal therapy animals. Around the world, llamas are used to treat people with dementia, children with special needs, and others struggling with mental health illness.”

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