Parishioners of St. Paul’s Church in Bantam and the public experienced the company of three Nigerian dwarf goats at the church on Jan. 18.
Goats Cheyenne, Eli and Hunter were at the church with their owner, Renee Bouffard of Morris, to kick off a monthly therapy program designed to help those attending unwind and forget some of the burdens they may be carrying, at least for the hour-long session. What’s being called the Healing Manger will be held the third Saturday of each month from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Bouffard is the founder of Healing Hoofbeats of CT, which provides equine and animal therapy for individuals needing assistance with personal issues. A licensed social worker, Bouffard decided to incorporate her love of animals, particularly horses, into her practice.
“I’ve always had horses, and when I became a social worker, everything I did always brought me back to them,” she told a small group of parishioners attending the inaugural session. “When it’s something you love, like horses in my case, it’s easy to want to dive right in and share that love with others.”
Bouffard left her horses at home and brought Cheyenne, Eli and Hunter into the church basement for a discussion on how animals can help people.
“Animals give us a lot of joy and can help us stay grounded, can help us get back to the basics of living,” Bouffard said. “They’ll let you know in one way or another if they like what you’re doing. If they don’t, then that’s a sign for you to change your actions.”
The church’s priest in charge, the Rev. Brett Figlewski, invited Bouffard to lead the Healing Manger program.