Seniors’ lives are often built around what they can no longer do.
If they forget to turn off the stove, their children unplug it and buy them a microwave instead. If they forget to take their medication or leave spoiled food in the fridge, they are moved to residential care. If they can no longer take their dog for a walk or need to go into the hospital for a few days, they are told that it’s time to give away the dog.
The loving bond between dogs and their human families is particularly strong as both enter their senior years. The dog may be the only loving, non-judgmental companion the senior has and taking care of the dog may give the owner’s life purpose and meaning. It is a great reason to get out of bed in the morning.
So what if there were a way to keep love in the home despite an aging owner’s inability to take half hour walks, drive to the vet or be at home for a few days following needed surgery? What if, rather than unplugging that relationship as if it were just a microwave, the community recognized the essential bond and supported it?
‘Pawds’ in 8 provinces
ElderDog Canada Inc. is a national, community-based non-profit organization, whose goal is to provide free assistance to older adults in the care and well-being of their canine companions. Since its inception in 2009, ElderDog has grown to have multiple branches, called “Pawds”, in eight provinces. In B.C., there are Pawds in Vancouver, Thompson Okanagan, Sunshine Coast, Victoria, Nanaimo/Ladysmith and Courtenay/Comox.
ElderDog Pawds provide trained and screened volunteers who help seniors, age 55+, with daily pet care activities, such as dog walking, transportation to veterinary appointments and food delivery. If the owner is unable to temporarily care for the dog, such as during a period of hospitalization, ElderDog provides foster care in a pre-approved home. In the unfortunate event that a dog requires permanent rehoming, ElderDog is there to assist and specializes in the placement of senior dogs with loving people. All of these services are provided for free with no cost to the owner because ElderDog truly understands that older owners can find it increasingly difficult to provide their dog with the exercise, stimulation and other care required.
Ladysmith volunteers needed
ElderDog began operating in Nanaimo in May 2020 and currently has in excess of 70 volunteers. However, only one of these volunteers lives in and can service the Ladysmith area in response to calls from seniors for assistance and we don’t want to turn down requests for assistance from that community. Would you be able to assist? Even if you only have an hour a week, you can help out by visiting a senior’s home to assess their situation and needs, walk a dog for half an hour or pick up and deliver pet food to a senior’s home.
To become a volunteer:
• Go to www.elderdog.ca
• Click on the link “Volunteer”
• Download the Volunteer Application
• Go to www.elderdog.ca