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Oliver the therapy donkey helps Bozeman de-stress

Posted at 4:37 AM, Apr 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-18 06:37:04-04

BOZEMAN – Those in need of a little stress relief, or just some time with a furry friend were in for a real treat the Children’s Museum of Bozeman on Monday.

From 10 a.m. until noon, Oliver the therapy donkey made his way to the Museum for some quality time with visitors.

An 8-year-old, standard-sized donkey, Oliver was rescued by his owner Stephanie Barnette two years ago when she purchased him from a livestock sale in Billings.

It was then that Stephanie discovered what she said is Oliver’s naturally calm demeanor.

“He didn’t know anything, he was just covered in ticks and wasn’t halter-broke and I cleaned him up, gave him a bit of an education, and he’s just naturally been calm,” Barnette said. “He just loves to hang out and he loves attention, and you can’t help but smile when you look at Oliver.”

Oliver spends his days giving riding lessons, and his free time traveling with Barnette and Intermountain Therapy Animals, allowing him to appear at different locations and offer a bit of his calming presence to different communities.

“Therapy animals, their main job is just to be calm, consistent, buddies for us to enjoy to be around,” said Barnette. She added that therapy animals can help people find relaxation and calmness, and that some studies have shown therapy animals can even help lower blood pressure.

Oliver will make his next appearance at Montana State University for “Paws to Distress,” a pre-finals week and finals week program to help students relax during exams.

To learn more about Oliver and where you can find him next, you can visit his Facebook page.