Jamie Bartzel, office supervisor at IU’s LGBTQ+ Culture Center, was suspicious last week as her partner took an unusually heavy interest in her Friday work schedule.
Little did she know, her little brother and partner were scheming.
On Friday, she received an unexpected phone call asking if a miniature horse, named Little Man, could be brought inside the building.
“I said, 'Yes it’s OK if you bring a miniature horse into the building,'” Bartzel said. “He is very welcome here.”
Bartzel received one of the 43 snuggles delivered during the Monroe County Humane Association's fourth annual Send a Snuggle event Friday. In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Day, anyone could pay $25 to send one of MCHA’s animal ambassadors to visit a person of their choosing.
MCHA raised more than $1,000 from the Send a Snuggle event this year, MCHA executive director Rebecca Warren said. All proceeds will go to their programming and services that include a pet food pantry and outreach education in schools.
Sydney Ziegler, junior and administrative assistant at the LGBTQ+ Culture Center, was at the center when Little Man came to visit. She said she first saw Little Man when he was being lifted out of the car outside.
“I could feel myself shrieking inside, like I wanted to scream because it was so cute,” Ziegler said.
Little Man, a white miniature horse with big blue eyes and an incredibly soft coat, was exhausted from his busy day of snuggling when he visited, Ziegler said.
He leaned into whomever was petting him, his head drooping and eyelids closing from time to time, according to Ziegler.
“He’d had a long day,” Bartzel said. “But he was very sweet and very snuggly.”
Rebecca Warren, the executive director of MCHA, said the event went smoothly for the number of visits they had. Although the cut-off day to submit requests for snuggles was Feb. 14, two visits were added the day of the event.
Some people who received snuggles were so overjoyed they wanted to spread the love even further, Warren said.
“We love to go where animals are needed most,” Warren said. “In these two situations, both people really benefited from the snuggle they got that day.”
Paired with the Norwegian dwarf goat Annie, Warren said the reactions this year were similar to those in years past, where visits to people at workplaces turned into entire facility responses. Warren said she loves when this happens.
“We were sent to one person, but before you know it, there’s five people then there’s 10 people and there’s people on the stairs," Warren said. "Before you know it there’s like 25, 30 people looking at you like, ‘Why do you have a goat in here?’”
Regardless of how many times Warren puts this event on, this is always her favorite day of the year, she said.
“It’s better than Christmas,” Warren said. “I’m sure of it.”