Therapy Horse Helps Patients Heal At Tufts Medical Center

BOSTON (CBS) – For the past six years, Lily the Miniature Horse has been roaming the wards of Tufts Medical Center looking for attention, and she gets plenty of it.

Lily is a therapy horse, certified much like a therapy dog. Her owners Jack Martin and Marsha Craig from Raynham say Lily brings out the best in the patients she visits.

“We’ve had some good experiences here with kids that were not responsive until we brought the horse in,” explains Jack. “And they’ve come out of their shell so to speak.”

“She has so much hair. Well you know I brush it for an hour every day and this is as good as it looks.”

Jack Martin and Marsha Craig with Lily (WBZ-TV)

Jack Martin and Marsha Craig with Lily (WBZ-TV)

Not only does Lily visit kids at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts, but she also sees adults at the Cardiomyopathy Center, and guess what? The adults like her even more than the kids. Just ask Charlie Lema and Richard Hudson, both being treated for heart failure at Tufts and both from Rhode Island.

“She’s sweet,” says Charlie. “You couldn’t help but love her. Yeah, especially when she gives you a kiss. You know, I can see where it brightens a patient’s day. It brightens mine. Yeah, just to see her.”

“I like pets,” says Richard. “I can’t them because I’m always in and out. So it was good today. I get sentimental, but it was really good,” Richard adds tearfully.

Therapy horse Lily kisses a patient at Tufts Medical Center (WBZ-TV)

Therapy horse Lily kisses a patient at Tufts Medical Center (WBZ-TV)

Jack and Marsha, also patients at Tufts, have their own health problems. Jack has heart disease. Marsha was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Despite their difficulties, Jack and Marsha bring Lily to Tufts once a month, including on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day and say that they’re the ones who get the biggest boost.

“Sometimes we get more benefit than I think the patients we visit,” says Jack. “We see some wonderful people. A lot of them work here by the way. And it’s always something different. Something you don’t expect normally happens. So it’s really enjoyable.”

Which goes to show, sometimes it is OK to look a gift horse in the mouth.

More from Dr. Mallika Marshall

One Comment

  1. Kate says:

    Thanks to Jack, Marsha, and “Lily” for all the good they bring to the patients and staff at Tufts. Therapy animals make such a difference to the 2 legged creatures they visit. Good luck to Jack and Marsha with their own health issues.

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