Meet Jean and Ed Kibler, and their dogs Bentley and Timmy. Jean and Ed are two members of the SPCA’s Pet Therapy Team. Together, Ed and Jean visit nursing homes, libraries, and schools, where they bring smiles to faces and help build confident readers across our community. The work they do allows them to share the love and joy that their two dogs bring them with others who are missing the love and comfort of a companion animal.
When did you first start volunteering at the SPCA?
Spring of 2014
Why did you choose to get involved with the SPCA?
Ed: Our dogs just love therapy work. We were working with them for about two and a half years before we moved to Virginia, and it’s something they really enjoyed and that we also enjoyed doing with them. We first started on our own, visiting nursing homes in our area, but it took us a while to find a program in Virginia. When Bentley and I we re-certifying for Pet Partners, we met Lisa and Kaicee, who told us about the new SPCA Pet Therapy Program. We knew we wanted to get involved, and the rest is history.
Jean: Well there was no way Timmy and I were going to sit home while Ed and Bentley went out and had all the fun! Timmy and I are certified as a team, and so we decided to tag along. It’s also something great that we can do together as a family.
What’s so special about Pet Therapy?
Ed: We love to see the enjoyment that people get from our visits. There’s nothing like walking into a facility and seeing faces light up and everyone reaching out to pet the boys. Many people, especially those in nursing homes, had animals in the past – it’s a part of their lives that they really miss. For us to be able to bring some happiness, especially in the form of our animals, it’s wonderful. We’ve had doctors and staff tell us how helpful visits from dogs are for their patients – it helps with overall emotional and mental well-being.
Jean: How it makes someone brighten up. If they’ve had dogs in their life before, they just love being around dogs. Something as simple as touching them is so beneficial and special for them.
Bentley, affectionately referred to as the “kid dog,” loves spending his pet therapy visits with youths. He’s more playful, and enjoys the youthful spirit and constant attention that kids offer. If there’s a child, a book, and a comfy rug, Bentley will curl right up and politely listen to story after story. But please don’t read Clifford the Big Red Dog! When Bentley was visiting at a Florida library, every child read Clifford – the books never had the same appeal after that. Bentley came to Ed and Jean as a very badly injured puppy who was turned in to their local humane society in Florida. As dedicated volunteers, they were asked to foster the little guy, who needed extensive medical care and visits to specialists (which was located 100 miles away!). After going through so much with Bentley, they couldn’t not keep him!
A Bit about Timmy:
Timmy, lovingly called “the old lady dog,” much prefers spending time with seniors. He’ll patiently sit at the foot of a wheelchair, and is very calm and relaxed. Timmy came to Ed and Jean on evening when Bentley was visiting friends at a dog park. A family heading back to Canada after their mother passed away, and couldn’t take Timmy (who belonged to their elderly mother) back. Timmy was just so sweet that Ed and Bentley had to bring him home! Timmy was the ultimate couch potato when they got him – he didn’t know how to play, or what treats were. Don’t worry, Timmy now enjoys little soft treats!
What are you looking forward to doing on Thanksgiving?
Jean: Cooking our own turkey and sitting down for a family dinner with our daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, and great granddaughter.
Ed: Charcoal cooked turkey on the grill!