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Seniors, do you need help caring for your four-legged friend?

A non-profit organization aimed at helping seniors care for their furry friends is hoping to expand both its volunteer and client lists in the Sooke area.

ElderDog has been operating in the Greater Victoria area since 2019 and connects seniors unable to give their dogs the walks and physical activity they need with volunteers who are more than happy to step in and lend a helping hand – and without cost.

”We want to ensure seniors can keep their dogs,” said Tanya Ellston, the spokesperson of the ElderDog. “In a lot of cases, there are physical limitations where they can’t get out and walk their dog or lift the food or transport them to the vet, so we are here to help out where we can.”

Ellston said in cases where an organization like ElderDog is not available, seniors often face the difficult decision to give up their pets when they can no longer care for them properly. These pets can even end up euthanized in extreme cases if no one adopts them.

That’s why ElderDog also offers both temporary foster homes for dogs if their owner has to be away for medical care and assistance with permanent re-homing, filling a gap between existing organizations like shelters.

READ MORE: Unwanted pets flood Victoria animal welfare group as society returns somewhat to normal

With more than 30 clients already in the region, the non-profit is now placing its focus on growing its presence in the Sooke area. Sooke-based volunteer Linda Harris said a big part of why they have not done so sooner is a lack of volunteers in the area.

But with some recent additions, she said they now can start adding clients.

“My sense, and our sense as an organization, is there is potential for some high demand in the Sooke area,” said Harris. “It is a very dog-friendly community. There is also a pretty decent base of seniors in the community, so there are probably quite a few people out there that could use a hand in making sure their dog has the opportunity to get out for a good walk.”

A volunteer for the past two years, Harris said she’d been impressed with the organization from the onset. She gets to spend her volunteer time with dogs outside in the fresh air only makes the experience better.

Volunteers work with each client to meet the specific needs of their dogs. For Harris and her client’s dog Lilly, this typically involves half-hour walks where Harris follows Lilly on whatever route she decides to take that day.

In addition to dog care positions, Harris said there are also opportunities for people to volunteer for the organization’s promotions and social media, event and administration areas.

Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering or accessing ElderDog’s services is encouraged to visit elderdog.ca or email elderdogvictoria@gmail.com.

READ MORE: Colwood makes new park stairs paw-friendly


@JSamanski
justin.samanski-langille@goldstreamgazette.com

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Justin Samanski-Langille

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