Princess Leia visits Gracewood

Betty and Leia

Residents at Baptistcare Gracewood Residential Care in Salter Point are enjoying weekly visits from Leia, a two year old Dachshund, as part of a pet therapy program.

Animal therapy volunteer and Leia’s owner, Jess Ammon, believes her pup is perfectly suited to being a therapy pet.

“She’s always been very placid with a sweet disposition,” she said.

“We visit residents in the dementia support unit and while they don’t always remember her, she remembers them.”

Ms Ammon started volunteering at Baptistcare Gracewood because she missed her grandparents back in the US, where she is originally from.

“I was really close to them so felt I’d lost connection to the older generation when I moved to Australia.”

Claudia Becerra, Baptistcare Gracewood’s Lifestyle Coordinator said Leia’s visits have been a catalyst for social interaction between residents.

“We all look forward to Leia’s visits,” she said.

“Even our residents who are shy and keep to themselves will come out to pat her and reminisce about pets they had in their younger years.”

Resident Elizabeth Elliot has always enjoyed the companionship of a dog and has formed a special connection with Leia.

“I’ve owned dogs all my life so I love seeing Leia whenever she visits,” she said.

“She’s always such a good girl and feels wonderful to hold.”

Ms Becerra says animal therapy has incredible benefits and is always popular with residents.

“Animals bring so much joy and unconditional love wherever they go”, she said.

“Everyone lights up when Leia comes to visit and it’s been beautiful to see the residents bond with her.”

For more information about volunteering with us, please follow the link below or
contact us on 1300 660 640.