A turning point for Matix and the minis came about nine months after the horses joined the family. "He said, 'Mamaw [Matix's term for grandma], I'm going to go in with my minis,'" Frankie said. "He went out with the horses, and they followed him around and he petted them. Anytime prior to that, I never held him back, I always wanted to be beside him. Now I trust that he can be alone with them."
They make a great team
Bert and Ernie have been certified to be therapy animals through Pet Partners, a nonprofit organization that registers handlers and animals of various species as volunteer teams to provide animal-assisted interactions in places such as nursing homes, hospitals and schools.
However, Frankie's ultimate goal is to help them become service animals specifically for Matix. "As therapy animals, they enhance people's lives, just like a therapy dog," Frankie said. They provide psychological therapy and socialize with a variety of people, unlike service animals, who are trained to perform tasks that help make life easier for their own handler. After they become service animals, Bert and Ernie will help Matix pick up objects, for example, and possibly open doors.