Move Over Dogs, Goats, and Peacocks: Llamas Are the Hot New Therapy Animal

jensenwy/iStock via Getty Images
jensenwy/iStock via Getty Images

Possibly because Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and the rest of the reindeer are pretty busy at this time of year, Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon, is offering guests the chance to hang out with a few jolly llamas instead.

The Washington Post reports that the friendly, festively dressed llamas belong to Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas, which usually brings them to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, senior communities, hospice care, special-needs organizations, and even schools. According to the organization’s website, the visits help “alleviate loneliness, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress.”

And, though the clinical benefits to the Kimpton’s guests haven’t been proven, hotel manager Travis Williams confirms that everyone definitely loves spending time with the quirky quadrupeds. Last year, after overwhelmingly positive reactions to the llama visits, the hotel decided to bring them back.

“Once we saw the joy that it brought people, we just kept going,” Williams told The Washington Post.

While it might seem like the use of llamas for therapy is a characteristically Portland-ish idea, it’s not the only place you can find them. The New York Times reports that 20 llamas and alpacas are registered with Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization for therapy animals, and many others are owned and trained by private family farms across the country.

Jeff and Carol Rutledge, for example, have 13 llamas and alpacas on their property in Stockdale, Texas, outside San Antonio. Three of them are registered therapy animals, having passed a test that includes being touched by strangers and staying unaffected while people argue near them.

During their visits to assisted living facilities, veterans’ homes, and other events in the area, the Rutledges have observed the animals having a profound effect on residents’ behavior. One man, who is nonverbal and recovering from a motorcycle accident, will murmur as he grooms one of the llamas. And the Rutledges’ high-school-aged daughter, Zoe, even did a science experiment for her 4-H club that showed the residents’ blood pressure is lower after visiting with the llamas.

While there’s not a very high chance of seeing therapy llamas in airports just yet, you might be lucky enough to see something a little smaller—like LiLou, San Francisco International Airport’s first therapy pig.

[h/t The Washington Post]

Flamingo Yoga Is on the Itinerary at This Bahamas Resort

Courtesy of Julianna Vezza/Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
Courtesy of Julianna Vezza/Grand Hyatt Baha Mar

In recent years, the practice of yoga appears to have been co-opted by the animal kingdom. A series of programs offering everything from goat yoga in Oregon to cat yoga in Illinois have sprung up, promising a workout that involves communing with non-human participants.

You can now add flamingo yoga to the list. Visitors to the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas are invited to attend yoga classes featuring a small group of feathered assistants. A total of four pink flamingos—Baha, Lynden, Indy, and Luca—take an active role, climbing over guests and investigating their poses with prodding beaks. A flamingo handler is on hand to manage the birds while the yoga instructor takes care of the human population.

The flamingo cay at the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas is pictured
Courtesy of Maddie Winters/Grand Hyatt Baha Mar

Flamingos are social creatures with a large presence, reaching four or five feet in height but weighing just four to eight pounds. A pink flamingo’s color comes from the beta-carotene in the seafood they eat. Without it, they would turn white.

The class is held every Wednesday morning. The cost is $40 and is open to all guests of the three Baha Mar resorts, including the Grand Hyatt, Rosewood, and SLS Baha Mar. There are also private flamingo yoga classes available upon request, or you can just enjoy a daily marching parade. If you can’t make it, consider heading to Manitoba, where Alpaca dance classes promise to give you an equally intriguing vacation story.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The 10 Most Popular Dog Names of 2019

Veronika7833/iStock via Getty Images
Veronika7833/iStock via Getty Images

Your dog may be one of a kind, but their name could be a different story—especially if your very good girl or boy is named Bella or Max. As we hurtle toward the end of 2019, Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest general veterinary practice in the U.S., combed through its database of pet patients to determine the most popular dog names in America, and which monikers are on the rise.

As usual, pop culture played a big role in pet-naming trends: Game of Thrones may be over and done with, but fans are still paying four-legged tributes to the epic series by naming their pets after favorite characters; 24 percent more dogs were named Sansa in 2019 compared to 2018. The Avengers made a superhero-sized impact, too, with 44 percent more dogs being named Spider-Man and 12 percent more canine Thors in the world than there were last year.

Is your pupper’s name among the country’s most popular? Take a look at the list below to see the 10 most popular dog names of 2019.

  1. Bella
  2. Max
  3. Luna
  4. Coco
  5. Charlie
  6. Daisy
  7. Lucy
  8. Bailey
  9. Buddy
  10. Rocky

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER