When you think of a “therapy animal,” you probably immediately envision a dog.
There also are a few standouts you might have seen in the therapy, service or emotional-support animal world: potty-trained miniature horses, cats that live in nursing homes, and even “friendly” alligators.
But Gracie is none of those things, and yet she has become a beloved familiar face at the Good Samaritan Society – Willow Wind Assisted Living in Prescott, Arizona.
Gracie is a chicken, and while she may not be able to do fancy tricks, she certainly brings joy to many residents through her calm demeanor and overall good nature.
Not every chicken is cut out to be a therapy animal, but when owner Becky Medina added Gracie to her flock, she realized this bird was special.
Medina has had chickens for years, so she saw pretty quickly that Gracie was different from the other hens: exceptionally sweet and gentle. Medina also works at the assisted living center as the activities director, so she soon realized her special chicken would make a good therapy animal candidate.
Three years ago, Gracie visited the residents for the first time and was a hit, reminding many of their childhoods. She’s become a staple ever since and regularly visits the center.
“I consider my residents family,” Medina said, according to People. “What brings me joy is making them happy, and Gracie brings them so much happiness.
“Many of the residents grew up on farms, and Gracie evokes so many wonderful memories for them.”
Photos of Gracie show the bird totally relaxed, happy to sit on a towel on people’s laps and be loved on. Sometimes she shows off her egg-laying skills, too.
“She’ll just lay there on your lap,” resident Barbara Hebert said.
“She just keeps looking at you like, ‘Keep petting me!’ You know how dogs like to pet between their ears? Well, she likes to be pat on the back.”
“She’s so sweet. She makes you feel so calm. She’s just adorable. Her feathers are so soft. I love animals, and she’s just so sweet.”
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