He might be small in stature, but when he is warming the hearts of those he meets he is larger than life. Petie the pony is a Shetland/miniature horse cross that makes room to room visits at both Akron Children's Hospital and Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital bringing smiles to many faces. His big heart and soft brown eyes find a way to reach out as he rests his head alongside the bed of every patient he meets. Never in a hurry, he is always willing to hang out and let his new friends stroke his soft face and listen while they share their story. He has a unique way of touching the lives of everyone he meets.
Petie has been a therapeutic horse since 1997. It takes about one hour to prepare Petie before he heads to the hospital. Petie must receive two to three baths before each visit. His coat is kept clipped to help keep him clean. After his bath, each hoof is scrubbed, dried and then wrapped in order to keep his feet clean. His tail is then sprayed with a conditioner and it, too, is wrapped for the ride to the hospital. Once outside the hospital, each hoof is unwrapped and wiped out. His tail is unwrapped and a towel is used to rub down his whole body. The last steps are to clean his eyes and nose area and finally he receives a spritz of Listerine to help eliminate any bacteria. He bravely enters both hospitals through a revolving door and rides the elevator along with other visitors, nurses and doctors to each floor where he then begins making his visits. And yes, if you were wondering, Petie is even housebroken. Although a person does walk behind him with a bucket, just in case, Petie has learned to signal to his handler when he needs a break.
Everything about this pony is amazing! He also visits local nursing homes and schools to help educate people on the benefits of the human/animal bond. Petie has received national recognition, including a segment on Animal Planet (Miracle Pets), People magazine (September 27, 2004), National Geographic for Kids (May 2005), Reader's Digest (January 2007), Time for Kids (April 2006) and numerous newspaper articles. But the fame has never gone to his head...he has remained a quiet hero.
Petie has allowed Victory Gallop to reach out to many children who, because of their medical situations, would not be able to participate in our program. No matter how many visits he makes, each one is unique as people do double takes, ask if him if he is real and wonder what a horse is doing in the hospital. However, it only takes a moment to watch him interact with a child to understand that his gift is truly something special.