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Puppies and mini pony visit veterans in Pocatello

It was a dog and pony show on Friday at the Pocatello Veterans Home as it welcomes several four-legged visitors.

Eight puppies and a mini pony named Cocoa stopped by to say hello and give residents a little extra cheer.

“Every Friday we do this,” described Nicole Jorgenson, who owns therapy animals with her husband. “All year round, we contact a different nursing facility every week and come in and give loves. Cocoa loves it. Every Friday, he knows. He gets all groomed up and jumps in the minivan to come.”

The Jorgensons have been doing this for about ten years. Nicole has a seizure condition and has a dog that alerts her to that. She said that’s when she really discovered dogs and what they can do for people and started taking dogs to visit others.

Then a few years ago, Cocoa came along too.

“We go to a lot of events and when we were at ISU, we had an older gentleman come up and just touch Cocoa and cry because he didn’t think he’d ever get to touch a horse again,” Jorgenson explained. “So bringing a horse into a facility is a lot more special on some occasions because it’s not the regular.”

The Jorgensons have brought dogs to the Pocatello Veterans Home before. In fact, that was how the home met Glory, its current emotional support dog for the residents. But this is the first time they’ve brought Cocoa.

“My initial response was, ‘Is it potty trained?'” said Josiah Dahlstrom, administrator of the Pocatello Veterans Home.

Cocoa sure is. He’s been doing visits for a long time and is well-trained, and well-behaved.

Both he and the puppies were a big, or rather, mini hit!

“We do everything we can to give our residents the best quality of life possible and sometimes that means thinking outside the box a bit,” Dahlstrom said. “Some of the veterans I think really enjoy it and it allows them to for a moment in time, really be somewhere else. We saw that with some of those puppies that were sleeping on the chests out there as they were sitting in the day area. One of the puppies I saw was kind of nibbling on somebody’s beard and he was laughing, and we don’t always get that reaction with the normal day-to-day stuff that we do so it was very heartwarming.”

The Jorgensons said seeing the looks on the faces they visit makes it all worth it.

“There is nothing like it,” Nicole Jorgenson added. “It is the best job in the world.”

The Jorgensons own Snake River Doodles and Friends. They have other therapy animals they also take around, including bunnies and a mini pig.

During the holidays, they also do zoo-grams, where you can send a holiday greeting of your choice by way of your favorite therapy animal.

For more information on the business, you can call 208-705-8978. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram at SRD Petting Zoo.

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