PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — You’ve probably heard of therapy dogs, and maybe even therapy horses. But have you ever heard of therapy llamas? Well, they exist and there are even some right here in Portland.
Rojo the therapy llama is a busy animal. Between visiting children’s hospitals, senior homes, doing events and making surprise visits, he has quite a packed schedule.
Recently, KOIN 6 News joined Rojo as he surprised a local comedian whose health has been on the decline.
“Oh my God,” 33-year-old Veronica Heath said when she met Rojo outside her Southwest Portland apartment. “Hi, I love you. Oh my God.”
The local comedian has a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that can erode your bones and joints. Many days, Heath said she can’t even get out of bed.
“It’s really tough to go from being, ‘hey I’m an independent lady,’ to like, ‘hey, can you help me brush my teeth?'” Heath said.
Heath is one of Rojo’s superfans, and thanks to her friends, she was able to meet the llama who was ready to cheer her up.
“She texts about Rojo every day,” Heath’s friend Mary Numair said. “She’ll send whatever Rojo posted on Facebook that day, zoom in on feet and say, ‘look at his new feet decorations!'”
Rojo, who’s known as the world’s most beloved llama, makes regular visits to schools, hospitals and charity events. He even makes house calls for special occasions like this one.
“I need to stop crying at some point,” Heath said. “I didn’t know what to think, I just wanted to hug him. I love Rojo.”
According to experts, animal therapy can help alleviate loneliness, lower blood pressure and reduce stress. For Heath, Rojo was better for her emotional well-being than any kind of medication.
Rojo works with Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas. For information on arranging a visit, click here.