PAPILLION, Neb. (NBC/WOWT) - We've heard of dogs and even horses being used for emotional and physical therapy, but what about sheep?
Emily Koester is just a tiny little thing, but she isn't afraid of big sheep.
"She kind of has her own way of talking to them," said Erin Koester, Emily's mom.
Emily is visiting the True Buddy Farms in Papillion, Neb., for therapy. It's part of Kathy Mann's "Luv a Lamb" program.
"They don't kick. They don't bite," said Mann. "They make a wonderful animal for kids of all different ages, and sizes, and all different abilities."
Emily is one of those special kids. Her struggles began in 2008 when she experienced renal failure and received a kidney transplant from her dad.
"It was very successful, but things were still happening with her. And she came up with cancer, lymphoma, and it wouldn't go away," said Erin. "It came back again, so she had it twice within a year."
Family and doctors wondered what was at the root of Emily's problems.
"We discovered she had Schimke Immuno-osseous Dysplasia, or SIOD for short," said Erin. "And it is a very rare genetic dwarfism disease. She is one of four in the United States who has it."
Because of the disease, she has hip dysplasia and osteoporosis.
"She needs to keep moving because the less that she does, the more rigid and stiff her body will become," said Erin.
Plus, the sheep are more entertaining than typical physical therapy.
"She just really communicates with them through her heart," said Erin.
Emily's a little girl with a big heart. And though she needs so much, she still has a lot to give.
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