By Eva Garnes
Kimba and Willow, together with owner Sigrid de Castella, bring joy to the older generation in the CBD, as well as entertaining tourists and locals alike.
The two West Highland White Terriers regularly visit the nursery and dementia wards at Mercy Place as part of the pet therapy program.
“We are just local residents that want to give a little back to the community,” owner Sigrid explained.
The third-generation, Australian-born Swiss was actually born at the Mercy Hospital, and now lives about 50 metres away from where she was born.
“We are true locals to Melbourne,” she added with a smile.
When they are not cheering up the residents at Mercy, the two terriers can be found running around Fitzroy Gardens. Here they are often playing with tourists, and having their photos taken.
“It is amazing how communicative they are with humans. People must think I am crazy sometimes as I talk to them when we walk around, but they understand what I am telling them to do and respond to it,” she said.
Their strong personalities also shine through in their habits at home.
“Willow likes to sunbathe in 45 degrees heat, and if the lawn chairs are in the wrong position she will bark at me,” Sigrid laughed. “Kimba, on the other hand, will throw a little tantrum if I am working on the computer too late in the evening and he wants a cuddle on the couch. It is great as he ensures that I get a much needed break.”