A Shetland pony has become the talk of the town after taking the bus to the pub to join his family for dinner and enjoy his favourite tipple of Guinness.
Kirk Petrakis, 43, from Cockington, near Torquay in Devon, and his family take little Patrick everywhere they go, including on the bus and to the local shops.
The small pony, who has been familiarising itself with the everyday situations as part of its training become a therapy animal, has already boosted the mental health of thousands of people by appearing on video calls and socially-distanced events.
The animal particularly helps the elderly, people with special needs and children.
Kirk Petrakis at The Drum Inn in Cockington, Devon, with his miniature Shetland pony Patrick
Th small pony has been familiarising itself with the everyday situations as part of its training become a therapy animal
Patrick even pops into the The Drum Inn the pub in the village where the landlord serves him Guinness and carrots.
He has a favourite spot in front of the log fire and spends up to three hours happily relaxing in the busy boozer.
Mr Petrakis, who lives in the village with his wife and three daughters, said: ‘He is quite a desirable little pony and he is my pet, part of the family really.
‘He is fantastic. He has taken to the village and all the residents here so well.
‘He loves going to the pub. I wouldn’t take him there otherwise. He just walks into the pub as normal, like you and I, and everyone in there is amazed.
‘He does have a tickle of Guinness and a carrot at the pub. It gets everyone tickled pink. Obviously, I don’t give him loads of Guinness as that would be bad but it is good for ponies. It has iron in, which is important for ponies to grow and develop.
‘Patrick gets quite a few jobs, including memorial services recently. He will go to the Guards’ Chapel when Covid is over.
‘During Covid, he has helped thousands of people, many of whom are lonely and struggling. He goes on video calls and chats. He did one video call recently for someone who is terminally ill and really cheered them up.
Patrick gets the bus to the pub to join his family for dinner and even visits the local shops
The small pony has helped thousands of people, many of whom are lonely and struggling
‘Everyone’s really really struggling with mental health at the moment, I know, as I speak to so many people, young and old, about it. Patrick is the light in the dark. It’s nice. He just loves people.’
Mr Petrakis and his wife Hannah have had Patrick for around one year now. Since then, they’ve been training him to become a therapy horse.
Eventually they hope to have a small electrified carriage for Patrick to pull small children who visit Cockington.
The father-of-three said: ‘We were going to make him a special carrot cake and he give him Guinness there but, of course, it couldn’t happen in the end.
Patrick’s owner hopes the pony will be able to visit schools, hospitals and old people’s homes in the future
‘People in the village were ready to join us so that was a shame.
‘But he’s been great in lockdown. After lockdown, we hope to let Patrick visit schools, hospitals and old people’s homes to help people. I think he’s essentially a therapy dog now but certainly will be ready for this after lockdown.
‘We want to do events as well. He will be going to big events and, essentially, being a mascot for things.’
The businessman says Patrick also has a great bond with his three daughters; 14-year-old Sophia, Naomi, eight, and Amy-Rose, who is seven.
‘He’s particularly good and helpful with Naomi, who has special needs herself,’ Kirk added.
‘The girls think he is amazing. They embrace and love him.
‘They hug him, which has been especially good during lockdown as Patrick hasn’t had that contact with the other children he usually would have.
‘He brightens up everyone’s day. He’s a celebrity pony.’
Mr Petrakis and Hannah are also writing a children’s book based on their pony’s escapades.
It’s called The Adventures of Patrick The Pony: The Ten Ducklings. For more details about the tale, visit the Facebook group – https://www..facebook.com/celebrity.pony/