What’s Good for the Goose…

Those of you who have visited us at The Lint Mill will no doubt have experienced the noisy welcome from our honking geese!

We have had a number of geese since moving to The Lint Mill. First there was the pair Basil and Sybil. Basil was quite a character and sadly met an untimely end after being kicked while he was chasing one of our horses.

Not wishing Sybil to be alone, we bought Mr Darcy and Miss Bennett to keep her company. This trio did very well for over a year until a fox attack. Unfortunately the chivalrous Mr Darcy met his end defending his ladies from the fox and Miss Bennett sustained an injury in this attack, and although she lived for a year following this, we think the injury weakened her and caused her early demise.

Once again, not wishing poor Sybil to continue alone, we acquired Horatio the gander from East Mains Farm, where he had been rescued by the SSPCA.

A chance meeting with our neighbour Jenni yesterday, led us to finding out a lot more about Horatio than we already knew.

Apparently, Horatio had started life as ‘Simon’ at The State Hospital, Carstairs in their Garden and Animal Therapy Centre as part of their animals as therapy in mental health programme.

This is what their information has to say,

“Animal Assisted Therapy is the term normally used when a clinician provides therapy with the assistance of an animal. This is usually provided in addition to other therapies. One of the earliest recorded accounts of Animal Assisted Therapy was that of Boris Levinson in 1984 when a child who had been making no progress in psychotherapy incidentally met Levinson’s dog, and the meeting marked an upturn in the child’s progress towards greater wellbeing. The dog was then used as an aid to achieving goals (Levinson 1984). The Garden and Animal Therapy Centre continues to be popular with patients, staff and visitors. On average, the Centre receives around 120 patients each week, a small number of external visitors and numerous phone calls requesting information on the many and varying aspects of our work. There are many benefits of human-animal interaction in the field of mental health, and as a result many of the enquiries we receive relate to our work with animals. Here at the State Hospital we use the term ‘Animals as Therapy’. This is because, at large, the Centre accommodates groups at any one time although we do undertake some goal-directed Animal Assisted Therapy with individuals. Whether therapy is delivered to individuals or groups of patients, the benefits that animals bring are unquestionably therapeutic for many patients.”

According to Jenni, the gander had become too assertive to be useful in therapy, so one day while delivering hay to Carstairs, she was asked to re-home two ganders Nelson and a goose called Simon. She happily undertook this task, although she swiftly re-named Simon, Horatio! The member of staff at Carstairs said Simon had been there for years and was probably in his twenties!

A year or so later Horatio was making a nuisance of himself with Jenni’s young son and his friends, so she asked her friend who works for the SSPCA to re-home him once again.

Last year he came to live at The Lint Mill. He can still be a little assertive, especially in the breeding season and we have had to put him in a paddock away from our guests! However, we had no idea that he was such an old gander, now well into his twenties!

Horatio may be enjoying a lovely retirement with Miss Bennett at The Lint Mill but he still likes to ensure our guests have the nosiest of welcomes!

If you’d like to read more about the therapeutic work that Carstairs State Hospital does with animals, you may wish to take a look at their ‘Animals as Therapy’ booklet.

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