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Tortoise Serves as Therapy Pet at Senior Care Facility

July 2, 2015



Shelly is the resident therapy tortoise at this Florida senior care center.

Chautauqua Rehabilitation and Nursing Center/Facebook

About two years ago, a tortoise was found on the roadside. It has been speculated that he was someone’s pet and was abandoned and that he’s around 20 years old. Now he lives in DeFuniak Springs, Florida at the Chautauqua Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. Shelly the tortoise has found a new purpose in life at his new home: therapy pet.

Shelly pretty much has free rein of the center, wandering the halls and courtyard, The Dodo reports. His slow pace seems to be perfect for the center’s residents, many of whom are in wheelchairs. Shelly also helps ease any anxiety young visitors may experience.

"He's calm and he's slow, so it gives residents more time to interact. They can go out and touch him, pet him — he loves to have his neck scratched. The slower pace of the tortoise is more conducive to being therapeutic in this setting," Brandy Meredith, a therapist at the center, told The Dodo. "One of my favorite things is how he helps youngsters who come in to see their grandparents. Sometimes, it can be intimidating here because of the wheelchairs and the nature of long-term care can be overwhelming when you first walk through the doors. Shelly takes the edge off."

The hope is that Shelly will be with the center through the end of the century. With the long lifespan of tortoises, that just may be possible.

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