West Lake residents enjoy their first pet-therapy program in 20 months

Huxley, the brother of beloved volunteer pug Gibson, makes his debut as pet-therapy headliner at the home

Dog owners are all too familiar with their loyal canines waiting at the front door for them to return home, but on Nov. 22 the situation was reversed at West Lake Terrace as residents anxiously waited for a visit from a pug named Huxley.

Huxley and his owner, Lesley Campbell, were due to arrive at 2:30 p.m. that day for the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s first pet-therapy session in 20 months, so it’s easy to understand why residents were looking forward to seeing their furry friend.

The last pet-therapy program at the home was before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, when Lesley was at the home with Huxley’s brother, Gibson, a five-year volunteer at West Lake Terrace, who sadly passed away in summer.

Huxley had been to West Lake Terrace with Gibson, but this was the first time he had been “the star of the show,” says Janie Denard, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Residents were so excited to see Huxley and Lesley they were waiting by the front door for an hour, Janie notes.

“It was fabulous; Huxley wasn’t coming until 2:30, but the residents were waiting by the door at 1:30,” she tells The OMNIway.

“I told them Huxley wasn’t coming for another hour, and they said, ‘we don’t want to miss him.’ … Some (residents) were even pacing in the dining room.”

During their visit, Lesley and Huxley spent time with the residents who had been eagerly waiting in the lounge as well as with those who were in their rooms.

Janie says the visit from Lesley and Huxley had a positive impact that is still being felt days after their time at the home.

“Residents were so thrilled, not just to see Huxley but also Lesley,” she says.

“Pet therapy is one of those activities that (positively impacts) every resident in the home. The staff are also thrilled that we are able to do this because it‘s one step closer to things being the way they were pre-COVID.”

Janie says Lesley and Huxley will be visiting West Lake Terrace every Wednesday for pet-therapy sessions.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

If you have feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured above, West Lake Terrace volunteer Lesley Campbell holds her pug, Gibson, during a window visit in 2020. Sadly, Gibson passed away this past summer, but his brother, Huxley, is now headlining pet-therapy sessions with residents.