Clydesdale Brightens Hospital Stay of UMC Pediatric Patients

Katie Riley
Jan. 29, 2001


Lenny, a 2,000-pound, exceedingly mellow Clydesdale horse, will provide a welcome diversion to University Medical Center's littlest patients on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m. outside the hospital's main entrance.

Lenny and his owner, Nancie Roahrig of Step Up Clydesdale Carriage and Wagon Company, visit UMC several times a month. They station themselves on a quiet plaza and greet a parade of young patients in wheelchairs and red wagons, many trailing IV poles.

"Hospitals can be a solemn place for kids," says Roahrig, who volunteers her time to bring these "pet therapy" sessions to local hospitals and nursing homes. "It's great when the kids can get outside for a few minutes in the sun and snuggle up with Lenny."

When he's not volunteering at the hospital, 9-year-old Lenny works for a living pulling carriages and wagons for hire. Roarhig says he participates in Tucson Fiesta de los Vaqueros rodeo parade every year.

Roahrig describes him as a "very well-mannered horse, a gentle giant full of unconditional love."

"Lenny's visits are a great break for the kids, some of whom are facing lengthy hospitalizations," said Tim Downes, UMC child life specialist. "Some of them are a little scared when they first see how huge Lenny is, but he makes friends quickly and loves to be stroked."

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