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

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Twin falls in Yoho National Park. Yoho is one of the mountain parks whose draft management plan is now available for review. (Claire Palmer photo)
Local input sought to shape future of mountain national parks

Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks are amongst those seeking input

The last 400 bear-proof garbage bins will be rolled out this spring. Keri Sculland/Star Photo
The bear-proof garbage bins are a must to keep bears out of town. Keri Sculland/Star Photo
Bear bins required as weather warms

The Town is reminding people to make use of their bear bins now that the bears are back in town

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

Arlene Howe holds up a picture of her son, Steven, at a memorial event for drug overdose victims and their families at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park on April 14. Steven died of an overdose at the age of 32 on Jan. 31, 2015. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
Moms Stop the Harm members placed crosses Wednesday morning, April 14, on Rotary Beach in memory of children lost to drug overdoses. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna mothers remember children lost to the opioid crisis

It has been five years since illicit drug deaths was announced a public health emergency

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 on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

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

A Keremeos family lost their home after a fire shortly before midnight on April 13. No injuries were reported. (Contributed)
Keremeos home destroyed in late-night fire

The family inside was unharmed

Naloxone
Op/Ed: Interior Health CEO speaks on five years of strides and challenges in overdose crisis

In 2020, close to 4,000 people across IH had access to opioid medications

Somewhere in the pack being celebrated by his teammates is Vernon Vipers forward Zack Tonelli, who scored in overtime Wednesday afternoon, April 14, to give the Snakes a 6-5 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in B.C. Hockey League pod play at Kal Tire Place. (Liza Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers bite Salmon Arm Silverbacks in OT

Snakes blow 5-3 third-period lead, rally in extra time for 6-5 pod play result over rivals

(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

New parking meters have been installed on Main Street, Ellis Street, Front Street, Nanaimo Avenue and Padmore Avenue in Penticton. (City of Penticton photo)
Pay parking now in effect in downtown Penticton

A spot downtown will now cost you $2 per hour

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

Most Read