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

/ Source: TODAY

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."