www.ohca.com FALL/WINTER 2022 The Oregon Caregiver 7 FEATURE Every morning as the sun rises, Jack Tincknell makes his way to the goat pens at his retirement community. At the pens, he is greeted by three enthusiastic Nigerian dwarf goats that have given his life a new meaning. “I feel love because they love me and I love them,” said Tincknell. The 90-year-old resident feeds the goats, takes them for long walks to the lake, and even cleans their pens—daily rituals that he says bring him joy. “Sometimes, I can kind of feel sorry for myself, but when I get with the animals, everything goes away,” he said. Sitting on 42 acres of the north Keizer bluff, Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community, is where Jack and a myriad of animals call home. From goats and chickens to dogs and cats, this community understands the indescribable bond between animals and humans. “I think the residents get a feeling of self-worth. We all worked hard to get the animals here and then we all name them. They’re not my goats. They’re our goats. I think the residents have that ingrained need to nurture something. It’s having the feeling of contentment to have a warm, living thing next to you that is soaking up your attention,” said Raeann McDonald, the executive director of Willamette Retirement Community. For the past 22 years, McDonald has taken a resident-driven approach to operating her community. So, when her residents insisted on having more pets in the community four years ago, she started a fundraiser to get three Nigerian dwarf goats to the community. What started as one resident’s idea became a community-wide project. Every resident was involved, from building the shelter and obtaining the feed and toys, to naming the goats. “The buy-in for everybody is to feel like it’s their project, their choice, their desire. It’s something they want and they’re the driving force,” she said. “We took a van full of residents and we went out to a farm to see the baby goats. They got to hold them and pet them, call them by their new names, and spend time with them. Everybody couldn’t stop talking about them; they had so much fun.” While the community had always allowed standard pets, like dogs, cats, birds, and fish, McDonald wanted to bring more variety to the community, including Taco the rooster. It wasn’t long until her staff members started bringing their own pets, and soon two more roosters were added to the mix, along with two dogs. Ranger, a golden retriever, holds a special place in McDonald’s heart. She understands first-hand the healing powers of an animal’s love. Her son passed away two years ago, and Ranger has filled that void in her life by staying by her side at home and at work. CONTINUES » “Ranger loved me when my heart was broken, and he let me love him,” she said. “I started bringing him to work with me when he was a puppy and people couldn’t believe his demeanor that he was so gentle. He’s healed so much more than me.” Ranger helped her get through one of the most difficult times in her life, while also providing comfort to the residents along the way. He became a representation of the dog in their childhood that greeted them after school, and the best friend they took on family trips. He became a staple at the community during some of the most challenging times. During the COVID-19 pandemic when seniors around the world had to isolate to stay safe, Ranger and the other animals at Willamette Lutheran provided solace and companionship to its residents. McDonald noticed that even the residents who normally weren’t as Willamette Lutheran’s administrator, Raeann McDonald, brings her dog Ranger, to the community every day.