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Meet the potbellied pigs who bring cheer to Alzheimer's patients each week

Pumba and Boris are two miniature potbellied pigs who are bringing big smiles to seniors with Alzheimer's disease.

Each week, Erin Brinkley-Burgardt, the founder of Colorado non-profit Hog Haven, takes the 1-year-old pigs to visit the residents of Highline Place, an assisted-living facility in Littleton that cares for patients with dementia.

"It just takes that one person that warms up first — then everyone else is like 'oh, OK, I'll try it!'" Brinkley-Burgardt told NBC affiliate KUSA.

She added, "The residents won't always remember the pigs, so it's like a new experience every week."

Elle Fore, who oversees resident activities at Highline, had the idea to invite the cuddly visitors, who arrive via a little green wagon.

"Animals are pretty magical and it brings out a side of them you don't see in other activities," Fore said, explaining that unlike dogs and other common pets, the pigs offer a "surprise factor."

She added, "One of the gifts with Alzheimer's is, you can use a lot of surprises."

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