"It's all about being in the moment around here," Cascade Lodge recreation assistant Sarah Laffin tells me as we wait for our elevator to reach the main floor.
We've just been up to see a resident to ask her about the lodge's pet therapy program.
Less than half an hour before, this lively elderly woman had been burying her hands in the thick chestnut coat and flaxen mane of a miniature horse named Thunder, a monthly visitor here.
"All the rest is bullsh*t," she had crooned cheerily to the animal while she caressed its velvety nose and braided its forelock.
The experience had vanished from her mind by the time we visited her room less than half an hour later, but for Laffin, it's the few moments of bliss that matter.
"With Alzheimer's and dementia," she says, "sensory stimulation, the basic things, become important again. It's not just the horse; it's the feel of its fur. It's just the basic sensory stimulation."
Of course, not everyone at the 110-bed residential care facility has Alzheimer's or dementia, and Thunder-the star of the lodge's pet therapy program-is a welcome visitor for a lot of different reasons.
"A lot of people have grown up with pets," says recreation manager Chanel Krossenger. "They've had pets all their lives, and a lot of them don't have the means to go out and visit their farm that they left."
But for Michelle van der Vlis, Thunder's owner, pet therapy goes deeper than that.
"They're animals," she says. "They don't judge you. It doesn't matter what you look like or whether you're a young child or coming to death; they don't care. They just want to love you. Animals are really strong that way."
Van der Vlis has worked at the Cascades as a care aide for five years. She started trailering Thunder from her six-acre farm for monthly visits with residents about two years ago.
The four-year-old gelding, who stands two feet and 10 inches (eight and a half hands) and weighs only about 160 pounds despite a wooly winter coat that makes him look decidedly stout, is an ideal therapy animal.
"They have to have the right temperament," said van der Vlis. "We had another one, but he didn't fit the program. He was too nervous."
Equine therapy advocates have long argued horses are perfect animals for psychotherapy for everything from autism to depression.
As flight animals, advocates argue, horses are finely attuned to the emotional and physical states of other animals and people around them, allowing people to feel a connection with them.
"They can tell how you're feeling even when you don't want to tell someone else," van der Vlis says.
Not everyone at the Cascades connects with Thunder, of course, and some residents take exception to a horse traipsing through the halls and riding the elevator
"No horses in the house," calls out one resident.
But most light up when Thunder approaches.
Some reach out tentatively, only touching his nose; others grab his halter with a competent hand, giving him brisk pats on his face and neck.
The resident who has forgotten Thunder is one of these.
In the morning, Laffin tells me, this woman had been depressed and crying.
Watching her with Thunder, it was hard to believe.
"He just perks her right up and touches her on a level that none of us can get to," Laffin says.