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‘Dr. Peyo’ – a horse who provides comfort to dying cancer patients

Providing comfort to those who are nearing their death is Dr. Peyo or the stallion who is a therapy horse

It may sound strange but going beyond his majestic looks, Peyo, the 15-year-old stallion is a therapy horse. It is his daily routine to do rounds in France’s Calais Hospital to provide comfort to patients suffering from cancer and who are nearing their end.

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Originally trained to take part in equestrian shows, his perceptive handler, Hassen Bouchakour observed that his horse was different. Why? Because after shows Peyo would select specific people in the crowd and become close to them. What Bouchakour realised is that his horse chose those who were mentally or physically sick.

Changing Peyo’s career, his trainer started working with the therapeutic organization — Les Sabots du Coeur (the clogs of the heart) – which is studying the unique abilities of the horse.

Since 2016, the trainer and Peyo visit Calais nearly every day, calling on palliative care unit patients. Interestingly, the stallion fondly called “Dr. Peyo” informs his handler as to which patient needs him by standing by their door and raising one leg.

In an article in mymodernmet.com, Bouchakour said: “It was very complicated to no longer be the master, and to be forced to admit that when [Peyo] detects someone [is sick], I am no longer in control. When he decides, I cannot hold him back, it’s a need, it’s visceral, it is in him, he needs to go, and cling on to the specific person he has chosen.”

The trainer prepares the horse thoroughly before every visit cleaning him using disinfectant wipes. When Peyo needs to attend nature’s call, he signals by moving his body from side to side.

Till now Peyo has helped more than 1,000 patients in their last moments.