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Therapy Animals

Frida and Evita

Frida and Evita are two llamas that were left behind when their guardians sold their home and they were not a good “fit” for the new owners. While llamas are very social with one another, it takes a great deal of time and patience for them to develop a relationship with humans. Commonly, the llamas will walk away if a person approaches them. They seem to prefer initiating the contact and spend time “checking out” a visitor before they get too close. The lesson for children who want to develop a relationship with the Llamas is learning to respect their boundaries.

Paula is a guanaco (pronounced wa-nok-co).Endangered in her homeland of South America and rare in the United States, Paula came to the Farm after witnessing the brutal killings of her pasture-mates in the mountains of Santa Rosa. Paula lived happily for many years on a rambling hillside until her herd was attacked by mountain lions. Sadly, no fence could keep these predators out. In desperation to save the last of the herd, Paula’s guardian reached out to Forget Me Not Farm to provide sanctuary for her final years. It didn’t take Paula long to join Frida and Evita in their daily activities. With lots of love, care, and respect for her needs, Paula appears to be more relaxed with her new life in her new home. However, she remains easily startled and the children have all learned to quiet their voices when they are in her presence.

Sonny and Cher
are St. Croix sheep traditionally raised for meat. This brother/sister team was rescued by a young boy with a good heart, who initially brought this wooly pair into his bedroom to keep them safe. Fortunately, when the lambs were discovered by his grandparents, they did not have the heart to put the pair back with the rest of the herd being raised for slaughter. Instead, they called the Farm director and pleaded their case for sanctuary for the young sheep. These sheep are the only pair of siblings at the Farm and Cher stays close to Sonny most of the time – much like a little sister who stays close to an older brother for protection.

a triplet, was born to a mother who was unwilling to care for three lambs at one time. Once it was obvious that his mother was not going to nurse him, Ramekin was taken to Forget Me Not Farm for bottle feeding and nurturing. Now, weighing in at 275 pounds, it is evident that his mother’s early neglect did not have a negative impact on his future growth. Many of the children who bottle fed Ramekin in 2005 continue to participate in the Farm program and feel very special knowing that they helped save his life.

Raymond was born on Christmas Eve in 2006, and as a male Jersey calf, his days would be numbered at his owner’s dairy. Fortunately, the dairy owner knew he was something special, made a few phone calls, and ended up connecting with Farm personnel. Raymond was transported to the Farm in a small dog crate on a cold wintery day. Quite dirty and just a few days old, we took him in and the children bottle fed him until he was able to eat on his own. Everybody loves Raymond! Now, he is the largest animal on the Farm and the most mischievous. He wears a bell around his neck so we can hear him when he sneaks up from behind. Knowing and loving Raymond makes vegetarianism pretty appealing.

is a geriatric Shetland pony that came to live at the Farm so his guardian could move into an assisted care facility. This move did not take place until the family knew that Geronimo would be well taken care of. In return for this great place to live, Geronimo delights the children with his “smiles” for carrots and “counting” for apples, skills he learned before coming to the Farm. Geronimo gives hope to everyone who has been moved from home to home that it is never too late to find that very special place to live with a new and caring family.

Jesse, a friendly 10 year old horse, was abandoned at the auction yard because of an old injury and an ugly growth on his back leg. Jesse was purchased from the auction yard in 2009 by a rescue organization to save his life. Unfortunately, he was in need of surgery and months of aftercare to make him comfortable, a difficult situation for a foster placement. He was moved to Forget Me Not Farm as a temporary home where the needed veterinary and nursing care would be provided. It did not take long before this charismatic equine captured the hearts of staff, volunteers, and children. Needless to say, Jesse has a new home and behaves the best when he is surrounded by children. Jesse’s story gives all hope for the future.

Carmen is a teenage miniature donkey, who once lived on a breeding ranch in Bend, Oregon, but was culled from the herd because she could not carry a foal to term. Fortunately for her a previous volunteer from Forget Me Not Farm was visiting the ranch and heard her story. Carmen’s owners were planning on taking her to the auction yard, but our volunteer convinced them she deserved to live a comfortable life in California. Carmen is our Farm Ambassador – always observing the other animal’s antics, always staying on the sidelines, and never causing any problems. In fact, you might not notice her if it weren’t for the way she quietly sidles up to you and gently puts her head under your hand for an easy pet. The children learn a lot by watching how she gets what she wants without being demanding.

Windsong was a broodmare from a local ranch. We met Windsong when she was ready for retirement after many years of breeding and giving birth. Even though she is a pretty small horse and doesn’t eat a lot, there was no place for her once her breeding days were over. Forget Me Not Farm seemed like the perfect placement. Windsong is small enough for even the youngest children to groom and pet, she is in good health, and she eats very little, and requires minimal veterinary attention. Although she is the oldest animal on the Farm and the smallest horse, she is “the leader” of all of the animals. The children are often surprised to see her interactions with the other animals and to see how even the largest animal respects her boundaries.

Raphael, a mixed breed pony, came to the Farm after many years of isolation. Horses are herd animals and living alone can be pretty devastating. Besides the lack of social contact, Raphael had not received proper veterinary care either. Before we could bring Raphael to the Farm, he required a significant amount of dental work so that he could properly process his food. Upon his arrival, it was evident that his social skills with people and other animals were very limited. It took a great deal of patience from staff, volunteers, and children to make Raphael feel comfortable around all of the Farm activities and noises. Even after several years, his first reaction is to walk away from people, but now given a little positive reinforcement, he willingly allows children to groom him, and after a quick smell and nudge with his head, he will let you lead him around the grounds. Raphael reminds us that horses, just like human beings, need social contact and will thrive with proper care and nurturing.

Orville and Trayf,
two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, were abandoned as babies. A favorite with the children when they grunt and groan and roll in the mud, these two also provide a good lesson in responsible breeding. Bred carelessly in a city setting, both pigs have medical issues related to their poor body structure. They are well cared for on the Farm, but it would be difficult if not impossible for either of them to live in a different environment. Orville loves to be petted along his side and thrills the children when he lays down on his other side in response to their touch. This provides a great lesson for the children to see how good appropriate touching can be.

The Hens – Our flock of 25 hens is a mixture of breeds. Some of the chickens were rescued from factory farms where their conditions were deplorable. Others were rescued from the streets and still others from people who could no longer care for them. The children at the Farm love to care for the hens, gather their eggs, and feed them from the garden. The hens lay eggs in a variety of colors and the children learn that no matter what color the eggs are on the outside, they are all the same on the inside. A favorite morning snack for the pre-schoolers visiting the Farm is hard-boiled or scrambled eggs.

Buddy and Niko are both mixed breed LaMancha goats.  LaMancha goats are noted for their apparent lack of, or much reduced, external ears.  They are also known for a generally calm, quiet, and gentle temperament.  Niko was rescued from the local auction yard and Buddy was found six months later wondering the streets of Santa Rosa with a broken leash tied around his neck.  At the Farm they soon became best friends.  Remembering which one is the boy and which one is the girl can be confusing at times since Niko (the female) has a long beard and Buddy has a clean, smooth chin.  Even though their ears may seem imperfect, the children love them just the same.