Pre-Christmas pet therapy and Santa visit brings cheer to West Lake residents

Lesley Campbell, her father and two dogs had a meaningful visit with residents before pandemic restrictions returned

Just before current pandemic restrictions came into effect in December, West Lake Terrace residents received a visit from Santa Claus as well as from two of their four-legged friends. These visits helped make for a happy holiday season for residents of the Prince Edward County long-term care home, says life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard.

Lesley Campbell, a longtime volunteer at West Lake Terrace, came to the home with her two therapy dogs, Huxley and Fergus, to spend time with everyone, and the program was “well received, as always” by residents, Janie says.

Huxley, a pug who made his debut as a West Lake Terrace pet therapy headliner in November following a 20-month absence of pet therapy programs at the home, brought lots of smiles and joy to residents that day, Janie says.

“The residents loved having him back, and we are hopeful that, yet again, things will open up and we can have Fergus and Huxley back again for some more visits,” she says.

Additionally, Lesley’s father, Clark, was at the home and put on a Santa costume to play St. Nick for residents, a gesture that brought lots of Christmas cheer.

All the residents received Christmas cards from Lesley and her family as well, Janie says.

The visit from Lesley, her dad and the dogs was engaging for residents and brought out some who normally don’t attend programming, Janie says.

The day also brought optimism for the future, she adds.

“It was fantastic because they all knew (restrictions were) coming, but having them here made the residents feel hopeful that brighter days are ahead,” Janie says.

“Huxley was a good distraction for all of us. You just look into his big brown eyes and kind of forget about everything else.”

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