When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)

B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

It’s rare that a charitable organization’s volunteers outnumber the people it supports, but when it comes to dogs, many, it seems, are eager to offer a helping paw.

White Rock’s Liz Cowley contacted Peace Arch News this week to bring awareness to a charity that takes four-legged friends out for a walk if circumstances prevent their owners from doing so.

In Cowley’s case, she had knee surgery and was unable to take her two-year-old rescue dog, Kevin, out for some fresh air. She enlisted the help of Elder Dog Canada.

Four times a week, Cowley said, a volunteer from Elder Dog Canada would swing by her place, pick up Kevin, and take him for a walk.

It was such a benefit, Cowley said, that she volunteered her services in an outreach capacity to give back to the organization that helped her in a time of need.

“It was wonderful,” Cowley said. “I would have been stuck… How would I have walked my dog? I live on my own and he wouldn’t have had any walks while I was (recuperating) and it’s a free service.”

Cowley put PAN in touch with Elder Dog’s Christina Saremba.

Saremba said the organization has about 300 volunteers at its disposal in the Lower Mainland, but only about 40 clients who use the service.

The organization is searching for more clients who can not only make use of its walking services, but some of its other dog-care supports.

“The other is transportation,” Saremba said. “Sometimes seniors don’t have a way to get their dog either to the groomer or the vet. So we help with that as well.”

Volunteers also offer minor grooming services. For example, Saremba said, they have a client who can walk his dogs, but his knees don’t allow him to brush his golden Labrador.

“He needs to be brushed quite frequently. So we have some volunteers go by a couple times a week and brush. We’re talking minor grooming,” Saremba said.

RELATED: ‘Man’s Best Friend:’ Documentary highlights non-profit that helps seniors with dog care

Saremba said the organization will also pick up dog food or supplies and offer some fostering services.

“Either the (senior) knows ahead of time they’re going to go to the hospital for, perhaps, surgery. So they would like to arrange for one of our fosters to look after their dog or dogs,” she said.

Some seniors, Saremba said, refuse to go to the hospital unless they can find a caregiver for their dog.

“More often than not we get calls from hospital social workers or family members that hear about Elder Dog and they have a senior that won’t go to the hospital because someone has to look after their dog. We’ll do that.”

On some occasions, Elder Dog will re-home a dog if a senior moves into long-term care or subsidized housing where they can’t keep the pet, or if the senior passes away.

“We will look after re-homing,” Saremba said. “We’re not a rescue organization. We’ve got to be clear about that.”

Saremba said COVID-19 has led to a significant increase in the number of people willing to volunteer for the organization. Since December, they have received more than 100 applications.

“It’s grown exponentially. It’s crazy.”

While the number of volunteers drastically outnumbers clients, Saremba said the organization is still accepting applications because some areas still need coverage.

An Ontario filmmaker, meanwhile, recently premiered a documentary about the organization.

Dwight Storring of Kitchener, Ont. aired ‘Dog’s Best Friend’ on YouTube at the end of January to bring awareness to the efforts made by Elder Dog Canada.

Elder Dog was founded in Nova Scotia in 2009 by Dr. Ardra Cole and now operates across the country.

The 50-minute film explores “the life-changing stories of five families and their dogs. Viewers will meet an aging Great Dane, an athletic German shorthaired pointer, a wire-haired rescue dog, two French bulldogs, and a bull mastiff as they navigate their changing family circumstances.”

For more information about Elder Dog visit www.elderdog.ca or contact 1-855-336-4226 or email info@elderdog.ca

DogsSeniorsVolunteer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Latoria South section of the Royal Bay development in Colwood could include a new long-term care facility. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood’s Royal Bay could be home to new long-term care facilities

Capital Regional Hospital District board approves $8M land purchase for purpose

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth gets combative with police at Victoria hospital

VicPD officer injured, youth kept in care under Mental Health Act

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School April 14 to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
SD61’s proposed $7 million cuts threaten equity and inclusion, say parents, teachers

Music classes, inclusion services, reading programs on the line

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

One of the grand prizes for this year's Hometown Heroes Lottery includes a seaside home at SookePoint, $1.5 million, and an Audi Quattro. (Photo courtesy of Hometown Heroes)
Hometown Heroes Lottery features seaside home in Sooke

A stunning seaside home in Sooke could be yours for the price… Continue reading

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along the highway in Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

Most Read