MEDINA, Ohio — Jean Tait is 80 years old, uses a wheelchair and lives apart from her home and family at Life Care Center of Medina, 2400 Columbia Road. Her age and Alzheimer’s disease have also taken her away from the horses she owned and trained for most of her life, but she still gets excited when she sees a horse race on television.
Jean’s husband, Joe Tait — who was the voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers for 40 years — visits her daily and suggested to her Hospice care team that she might like to interact with a horse, up close and personal.
To do just that, Hospice of Medina County (HMC), through a program called Moments to Remember, arranged for a gentle Quarter Horse to visit Jean at Life Care.
Dusty, a 25-year-old horse, arrived at the care facility with his handler, Liz DeLeon. Dusty is a permanent resident in his own retirement home, a farm animal sanctuary called Hoofs, Hogs and Hamsters LLC on Lester Road in Valley City.
Several residents of Life Care crowded a patio area where the meet and greet took place.
Jean, wearing a straw hat perfectly suitable for Kentucky Derby week, arrived with her family and immediately reacted positively to Dusty. She grabbed his lead rope and clutched it in her hand while Dusty looked around and nibbled grass at her feet. Her hospice care team — a nurse, a nursing assistant, a volunteer and a social worker — beamed as they watched their patient interact with the horse.
While Jean enjoyed her moments in the sun with Dusty, Joe explained that he and Jean had owned a total of 41 horses over the years at their Double D Farm while Jean was a trainer at Thistledown racetrack for 20 years.
He said that Jean brought foals into the world, with most arriving during the night when the farm was quiet. She was there to assist, and even turned breech foals around before birth.
Laurie Henrichsen of Hospice of the Western Reserve explained that the purpose of the Moments to Remember program is “to bring meaningful experiences to life for our patients to enhance their quality of life.”
Some of the 750 diverse enrichment events they organize each year might include a Meal to Remember, a granddaughter’s baby shower or cookies from a favorite childhood bakery.
In Jean Tait’s case, it was a moment with a gentle horse named Dusty.
This article was originally published on Cleveland.com.