Therapy dog and his owner are spreading cheer at West Lake Terrace

Pictured above, Gibson, a St. John Ambulance therapy dog, has been volunteering at West Lake Terrace with his owner, Lesley Campbell, for about a year.

Lesley Campbell says she and her pug, Gibson, get as much back as they give to the home

Lesley Campbell and her pet pug, Gibson, a St. John Ambulance therapy dog, have been volunteering every Monday at West Lake Terrace for about a year.

“Sometimes we spend five minutes with a resident, sometimes we spend 15 minutes with a resident, it really depends on what residents need that day,” Lesley tells The OMNIway.

Together, Lesley and Gibson provide a valuable service to residents of the Prince Edward County long-term care home.

Sometimes Gibson will visit with residents who are ill; he will climb on to their bed and cuddle with them. Other times he will sit on residents’ laps, Lesley notes, adding 10-year-old Gibson has become “addicted to wheelchair rides.”

“Gibson is there to love them; some of the residents never have visitors, and some have no family, so he becomes their family, and we basically become family with everyone at West Lake,” she says. “It’s nice to go there, because we feel that we are a part of their family.”

Gibson’s personality is well-suited for volunteering in a long-term care home, Lesley says.

“He loves everyone, he is fearless and he is calm and quiet,” she says.

Gibson also gets dressed up for special occasions. At Easter, he was dressed up as the Easter bunny. In October, he came to West Lake Terrace dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween.

“We dress him up for every holiday, and we try to involve him in everything, and the seniors love having their picture taken with Gibson, and he loves being involved with residents,” Lesley says.

While West Lake Terrace residents have been enjoying visits from Lesley and Gibson, Lesley says she is getting a lot from the volunteering experience, too.

“I’ve really enjoyed volunteering at West Lake,” she says. “I enjoy being with all the seniors – you get to know all the seniors and you hear their stories, and I enjoy the interaction and knowing that we’re making a difference.”

In addition to their work at West Lake Terrace, Lesley and Gibson visit another long-term care home in the area as well as at Loyalist College and the air cadet base in Trenton.

April 23-29 is National Volunteer Week 2017. The week is marked by events nationwide that celebrate volunteers and all they do to enrich the lives of others. This year marks the 76th National Volunteer Week.

Anyone interested in volunteering at an OMNI Health Care long-term care home can call 1-705-748-6631 for more information.

More information on National Volunteer Week can be found by visiting the campaign’s website.

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