Here come the waterworks!

Sender Inner Mikkio P. points us to a heart-warming story, also covered by Finnish television, of a woman who took an alpaca to cheer folks up in the hospital.

According to the Finnish site Sirpucca the story goes like this. (Translated from Finnish via Google Translate! Not her actual English!)

“We received an invitation to visit the Gulf of Joensuu Home chronically ill hospital ward seven. Tess and I took the invitation with pleasure.”

“Three hours went by as fast as the elevator, which drove us from one section to another.”

“It sure was wonderful to see old people on the face of happiness and sorrow to tears of mine sainhan I wiped my eyes.”

That last pic is just too sweet. Alpacas for the win! See all the photos and much more over at Sirpucca.



  1. omg, my mom lives in an assisted living facility, and this is so full of win!!

  2. I volunteer to take alpacas anywhere people want to see them.

  3. My grandmother lived in an assisted living facility and the visits from the therapy animals were always a highlight for her. When she passed away one of her favorite therapy-doggy mommies came to her funeral. Good people doing good works.

  4. Awwww what a sweet thing for them to do, Lillith!!

  5. Really? Don’t suppose you’d be willing to bring them to South Carolina to cheer me up about once a week at my workplace, ay? *grin*

  6. I hope the alpaca didn’t spit on anyone. Or is it only llamas that do that?

  7. Aww, the only animal I love more than an alpaca is a llama. What a sweet wonderful alpaca. *cries

  8. I think that’s camels. Alpacas are usually sweet and gentle – except when they purr it means they are frightened.

  9. woah, this is my favorite thing of the whole entire day!

  10. My mom’s in a nursing home and the residents go crazy with joy every time I bring one of my dogs for a visit. Animal love is the best medicine I know.

  11. What a sweet story. I love therapy animals!

  12. you can shimmy on up one state to the North and visit my office, too!

  13. This is brilliant!! Awww 🙂

    Also: Go to Sirpucca, and scroll down to the post from 2/20/10… it’s a pushmepullyou!!! I swear!

  14. Princess of Insolence says:

    So lovely! What better way to lift someone’s sadness than with gorgeous chocolate alpaca eyes?

  15. Awesome pantaloons and knee socks!

  16. haha, I wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t mentioned, but you’re totally right! Nice catch, caitlin!

  17. I was thinking about the spitting, also. 😯

  18. I can’t believe how moving this is. I don’t have the words.

  19. LaureninGeorgia says:

    Between this and the South African hottie with the lions, I’m in a fabulous mood. Does anyone else remember the Arabian yearling that someone took to visit her mother in an assisted living facility? It was a few years ago, and it was equally moving.

  20. You would!

  21. Bring some to my library, please?

  22. Ptui!

  23. Ptui right back at you, and neener neener, too!

  24. *lays on the floor with a bowl of popcorn while watching the completely mature fight going on…crunch crunch* 🙂

  25. I didn’t even notice the knee socks!! *snerk*

  26. Gracie's Mom says:

    This is so special. I’m so glad there’s people out there that do this. And the animals that do this are just amazing!

  27. When I was in a long-term care facility a couple of months ago, the therapy animals’ visits were big hits! (I even got a feline visitor once!)

  28. Alpacas in Finland. Sweet story and I love that rich brown fur not to mention that smile on that lady’s face.

    But I’m having a hard time not making a Monty Python joke about how the Llamas and Moose are obviously too busy biting people or making movies to be therapy pets.

  29. Remember girls Marchioness of Queensbury rules!

  30. I agree with Kar…the look of joy on that nice lady’s face is just wonderful.
    This story is 100% WIN!

  31. Mother! I’ve told you not to wear that moth eaten coat,it’s not hygienic.

  32. Therapy animals for the win. Totally.

  33. Quiet_Desperation says:

    Works with mentally handicapped kids as well. Saw a documentary on it. In one part a little girl with some disorder (don’t recall the specifics) would just sit in a chair and rock forward and backward endlessly and not respond to anyone. Finally, someone handed her a cat, and she stopped rocking and hugged the cat. Her nurses/caretakers said that was the first time that ever happened.

  34. Quiet_Desperation says:

    Spitting? What about, well, you know.

    I’m thinking either a cork or Immodium For Quadrupeds.

  35. Careful, they spit. Ptoooey! Lovely animal.

  36. The sight of an adorable alpaca walking around the hospital is no less magical to me than if a unicorn had appeared. This is so LOVELY! Really, really cool. 😀

  37. Awww, this is so sweet. Makes my heart happy. Thanks for posting.

  38. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    that’s an awesomely wonderful tribute to your mother, Lillith!!!

  39. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    Tonight, on The Elegance and Dignity Show ……

  40. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:


    (I’m gonna be generous here, V, and choose to leave the obvy question unanswered, here….)

  41. mischievous madchen says:

    Actually, Alpacas are generally sweet and docile…they are much more apt to spit at each other when fending off unwanted mating advances…also, they hum for many reasons…when they are content, bored, curious, or to communicate to their young if they get separated. Having recently become a bit obsessed with them, I was able to visit several Alpaca ranches…there is nothing quite like standing in the middle of a heard of 150 gently humming animals staring soulfully at you from below sweeping lashes…their eyes like limpid pools of water…very peaceful and serene…an experience I will never forget!

  42. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    MEG, I feel SO abANDoned. You would provide us with such heartwarming
    and succulent alpaca pics, yet not locate the necessary visual documentayshe of Goofy Alpaca Teef?????

    (whine, whimper, bellyachin’ …..) 😦

  43. Love this story, and the fabulous Sirpucca website photos! (just wish I could understand the language to read more about their farm and alpacas)- We visit hospitals, schools, senior communities, and rehab facilities 3-5 times each week in Vancouver, Washington, with our certified therapy llamas, and no one ever has to worry about being “spat” on, as therapy animals have special personalities that actually enjoy interacting with humans, and they don’t feel threatened. Our website is

  44. oooh, wait, i gotta get my Depends on before watching this (and don I fit right in?!)

  45. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    @ mischevious madchen:

    1) Lovely summary of your experience
    2) In re.: your description of the following:

    “to spit at each other when fending off unwanted mating advances”???

    Me, too !!! 🙂

  46. What a great thing to do. I’d like it if an alpaca came to visit me when the minutes are winding down. I could say, “Well, I’ve seen it all now and nod off.” Wtg, Finny people.

  47. LLamas do it too.

    Llama llama llama!

  48. See! This is the kind of stuff that goes on and I know nothing about. Really, humming? I had no idea! Thanks for sharing that. Now I gotta youtube for a humming alpaca.

  49. mischievous madchen says:

    Aaaackkk……just saw that I typed “heard” for “herd”…then realized that it kind of makes sense the way it is…based on being surrounded by the sounds of their sweet humming!

    @ O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt…yes, wouldn’t that be an interesting bit to pull out of your dating repetoire at the local watering hole!

  50. mischievous madchen says:

    uh…I mean repertoire…

  51. I wonder if old alpacas find joy in visits from humans.

  52. I can’t move them from hospital to hospital, but … Alpaca a suitcase for ’em!

  53. And their dried meat is just as healthy, yummy

  54. to any follow-up commenters:

    don’t. please. just. don’t.

    thank you.

  55. best idea ever!!!

  56. By the time I make it to nursing home stage, I hope alpacas will be standard in every room.

  57. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    literally awesome 🙂

  58. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:


  59. Disappearing alpaca haunches put the ‘Pan’ in ‘pantaloo oons’

  60. I say this every time I see a llama.

    “llama llama llama!” 🙂

  61. oooh dainty feets!
    I lurve alpacas and would love a visit!
    (as a fiber artist who loves yarn made from alpaca fluff they are sooooooo soft! I may be a bit biased. )

  62. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:


  63. This from Floyd the Wonder Llama, “Llama, llama, llama.” Yeah!!!

  64. Ohhh yeah alpacas spit. They did a “Dirty Jobs” episode a while back about alpaca farmers and the host Mike Row got spat upon pretty much the entire time he was helping to shear them. I think they actually spit up their stomach contents if I remember correctly.

  65. A-hem….I had an ‘allergic reaction’ to the hospital while I was recovering from a (mostly routine) surgery. They wouldn’t send me home until I was strong enough to be fairly mobile; the long-term care facility was a couple of steps down from the ICU, nursing-requirements-wise. (And the staff was fairly astonished that I was only there about two weeks. Of course, I really wanted to go home!)

  66. 😉 But I’m much better now!

  67. Sounds like autism. And I’ve heard/read more stories confirming the therapeutic values.

  68. giggle, giggle….*groan*

  69. Mary (the tall) says:

    Okay, so I -know- that llamas aren’t alpacas….BUT!

    Every time I see an alpaca/llama-type animal, all I can think about is that Sesame Street episode with the girl that has the llama. And they go to the dentist!

    *sings* Me and my llama!
    Me and my llama!
    We’re going to the dentist today!

    I wanted to live in Manhattan, just so I could have a llama.

  70. Oh this article was so sweet. I’m Finnish and my grandparents actually live close to Joensuu, so when they can’t live without being constantly taken care of, they’ll probably move to this exact hospital. 🙂 I hope they’ll see the alpacas too!

  71. Please keep this going, so many of our eldery and sick children have been taken away from animals and pets. This is a bright joy in their lives. Please continue this service and grace to them.

  72. Animals are very therapeutic. There is good research on how animals, not only help patients feel better, but actually help them live longer. That is what’s called pet therapy.

  73. What tunes do Ilamas hum? Maybe “I’ve never seen anything like it” from Dr. Dolittle.

  74. Human translation:

    We were invited to visit the seven wards for the chronically ill at the Kotilahti hospital at Joensuu. Tess and I received the invitation with pleasure. The three hours went by as quickly as the elevator that carried us from one ward to the other. It was so wonderful to see the tears of joy on the faces of the old people, and I had to wipe some off my own eyes as well. I hope more invitations will follow. The event was covered by the Karjalainen newspaper and the local TV station. Hopefully this visibility will inspire the sponsors to realise the importance of this kind of activity!

    The more mobile patients got to test the softness of the wool.

    Waiting for the elevator again with the Activity Organiser Hilkka Tanskanen. To the disappointment of Tess, the elevator had no mirrors…

    The long neck comes in handy when you have to reach for a carrot over a bed railing!

  75. Aww what gorgeous llamas, and their little outfits! And meeting Seth Aaron! How cool. Thanks for posting the link! 🙂

  76. When my Lily chi was in doggy daycare, an autistic girl came in with her mom to see about boarding their dog during an upcoming vacation. The little girl – who never spoke to strangers – actually asked the daycare lady if she could pet Lily, then asked if she could come back the next day to pet her again. Her mom said that was a major breakthrough. I bawled my eyes out when I heard the story.

  77. and cold snowy Michigan could use a ray of sunshine too!

  78. Glad to hear it, victoreia! I really do believe that a person’s attitude makes all the difference.

  79. There’s a story like that in Dewey the Library Cat.

  80. LaureninGeorgia says:

    Warning – sad story. A few years ago, I had to take my horse to the large animal clinic at the University of Georgia to find out what was going on with his lameness issues. It’s an all day process, involving many tests, some of them a little painful. You also spend a long time waiting for results, waiting for the next vet to come, etc. All in all, a miserable day with very bad news at the end. Throughout this long long day, though, we had an Alpaca across the barn aisle from us, intently watching us through those big beautiful eyes. Sometimes I had to go pet her to compose myself, and I always felt magically calmed by her. Her sweet presence definitely made a bad day a little bit less bad.

  81. CharlesCityCat says:

    I love this story.

    As an Alpaca owner (we currently have 20), I know how wonderful they are firsthand.

    They really don’t spit unless they are upset about something. Last spring when they were being shorn, there was alot of spitting going on and watch out when a male approaches a female who is pregnant, LOL!

  82. Oh, I love alpacas! They’re adorable, AND they produce an amazingly warm and snuggly fiber for knitting!

  83. hugs to you, Lauren. I sat through one of those days a while back, at the Michigan State University Veterinary Clinic with a cat who had a heart murmer. He is now waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge too… And the good part of the day was visiting with the other animals in the waiting rooms, and their people who love their animals so much too. I actually felt blessed that I live so close – some of those people had traveled hundreds of miles.

  84. LMAO!

  85. Heh, Finns had their first therapy llamas and alpacas a year or so ago. Trained well to tolerate people, noises and different environment, therapy llamas and alpacas are indeed as useful (although slightly larger) than other therapy animals 🙂

  86. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    HOW COOL .
    Particularly LOVE the observations about Tess looking for more mirrors and
    using her long neck to reach over bed railings for a carrot 🙂

    My Heart is Offishally Warmed, Now.

  87. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    How entirely lovely for the autistic girl, her mother, your furry friend and you!!
    Talk about a win-win experience …

  88. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    To LaureninGeorgia and ceejoe:

    hugs, rainbows, glitter and prayers to you both and to your beloveds at the Rainbow Bridge. Please tell them to introduce themselves to Salinger, my kitty of some 18 yrs or so. I think they might all have a lovely party!!!

  89. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    truly a lovely observation.

  90. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    yay Victoreia 🙂 and yay for the therapeh kitteh!!

  91. Oh, you really shouldn’t use Google Translate with Finnish. Doesn’t work at all. So here, I’ll correct this one for you:

    “Kylläpä oli ihana nähdä vanhusten kasvoilla onnen ja liikutuksen kyyneleitä, sainhan minäkin niistä omani pyyhkiä silmistäni.”
    “It sure was wonderful to see old people with tears of happiness and affection, I got also to wipe them off from my own eyes.”

  92. This is terrific. It’s so amazing how animals have the powers to make people feel better! They are the best kind of therapy. My 93 year old grandma lives with me, and my little shih tzu is her best buddy.

  93. finnish kicks butt! when i was there, i loved saying the name of my hotel over and over. (it was winter. it was cold and dark.)

    and the finnish+hungarian to the exclusion of all others, well, that’s a language marriage i like!

  94. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    and it surely is challenging, to tolerate us bipeds !!!

  95. I’ve come across them in the open – llamas and alpacas are mostly all domesticated but often graze & run around unfenced and unfettered – and they’re MEAN. I’ve gotten spit on more than once trying to photograph them or just shoo them out of the way. And don’t even get me started on the wild kind – vicuñas. *shudder*

  96. This reminded me immediately of the classic sesame street bit where the girl takes her llama to the dentist. Here it is on youtube for anyone else who wants a trip down memory lane!

  97. alpacas remind me of llamas, which remind me of:

  98. Savagewoman says:

    Such a sweet story 🙂 I’m pretty sure I actually met Tess a couple of weeks ago at an animal fair, they had quite a few therapy alpacas there.
    I do this every once in a while with my bunnies, it’s always so rewarding to see a completely shut in elderly person just light up and come alive in the presence of an animal.

  99. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    how can you use a screenname like savagewoman, if you bring *floofeh bunnehs* as therapy animaux to visit the elderly??? 🙂

  100. I couldn’t find any television news video, but here’s a link to a newspaper article about this story:

  101. I do a similar thing with my therapy alpaca, Serena. We visit nursing homes and it is so moving to see the smiles that greet us.

  102. O NO He/ She/ It DI-unt!!! says:

    YAY YAY and also YAY!! 🙂

  103. This is very sweet and all but if MY own personal mother is ever in an assisted care facility and they bring in an alpaca to her room, I would get that phone call to go get her so fast! She even freaks out when my cat comes up to her and headbutts her.
    I can’t stop laughing thinking of her facing something that big LOL

  104. Ouch! It stings eyes AND nostrils! That last pic is Priceless! What a sweety!

  105. GazeboQueen says:

    Yes, they do–apparently it’s so bad it makes the llamas sick and they throw up even more. I’m glad Mike Rowe has finally hit the “big time” with indorsements and such–that guy has put up with EVERYTHING!

  106. The Google translated the name of the hospital wrong; Gulf of Joensuu Home is in Finnish Kotilahti (Koti=home Lahti=bay, gulf) Joensuu is the name of the city 🙂

  107. If you met a mean alpaca, you were either making it feel threatened or it has been abused. There is nothing mean in an alpaca…nothing. I know, I have been raising alpacas for the last 7 years on our farm in Missouri. And yes, they have the ABILITY to spit but only do so at each other and that it most often food related…”My food dish!” etc. Llamas spit more readily but they’re more territorial and protective than alpacas are. Alpacas are prey animals, they would turn and run before they would confront a person or even another animal.