Dr. Jacqui Lowman has had Saint, who has been helping with her mobility needs, for the last nine years. “Saint has been a good dog. But unfortunately, it’s time for me to look for another service animal,” Dr. J said. As much as she has enjoyed having Saint, she has decided to go with something that will live longer. Dr. J has decided to get a horse. “Her name is Angel and she is a Dales Pony. She is black and will be 30 inches tall when she is fully grown,” Dr J said. Dr. J decided to get a pony over another dog because of the heartache. “Dogs have been great, but it’s always breaking your heart when they die. My miniature would live two to three times longer than a dog, so I wouldn’t have to go through the heartache as often,” Dr. J said.
Ben Shaw, chief business officer for UMPI, was surprised she wasn’t getting another dog. “I was intrigued. I obviously had some thoughts about how we were going to be able to make sure to support the horse on campus. We have some work to do. But that was an interesting change for her,” Ben said.
When Dr. J had the opportunity to meet Angel before getting her, she fell in love. “She is beautiful! She has puppy dog eyes and reminds me very much of Saint,” Dr. J said. Dr. J has been working vigorously with UMPI to get everything set up for Angel. “We’re working with UMPI to have a corral, because I have this fenced yard around my house. Angel has that at home, but sometimes I am here for very long days and she will have to go out,” Dr. J said. “We put a couple thoughts together on where the corral will go.”
“I think we’ll put the corral near where Dr. J parks Miracle,” Ben said.
Though the adjustment period has been longer, Dr. J found out that Angel is vegan! “It took me a while to adjust, because she eats differently from a dog. I’m excited because she’s a vegan, too. She eats her oats and hay and even though she is very small, she can eat big carrots and big apples,” Dr. J said as she fed Angel a carrot, who took it quickly. When Dr. J first brought Angel with her to class, people were shocked! “At first, people thought I had another service dog until they heard all the noise and realized she has hooves. Then when they saw Angel, a lot of mouths dropped open,” Dr. J said.
Though Angel is a horse, she is still a service animal. “Even though she is a horse, no one can ride her. She’ll go any place with me: she goes into stores and stables. She’s very quiet. Most people don’t hear her whinny, but she has been trained to if something happens,” Dr. J said. Angel has some qualities similar to Saint, too! “She tries to be very careful when she crawls up on my lap because she doesn’t want to hurt me with her hooves,” Dr. J said.
“We’ll make sure we follow any regulations with her. We have to make some changes because it is a horse and not a dog,” Ben said.
Angel will be a good service animal for Dr. J when Saint is no longer able to continue her service. Angel has already proven to act like Saint. She has opened doors, she exercises and she loves carrots. Dr. J is hoping that UMPI will be able to get the corral built in the summer so that Angel will have a place to run. If this all works out, Dr. J is planning to get another Dales pony when Angel is too old.