(Photo: ElderDogs Canada)

New ElderDog program helps seniors keep dogs at home

Organization seeks volunteers to help seniors stay close to their canines

Victoria will soon home to an ElderDog Pawd.

Completely volunteer run and donation funded, ElderDog Canada provides assistance to elderly people and their canine companions. According to the national website, ElderDog works with seniors who want keep their close relationships with their dogs, but feel they are unable to as much as they would like. The organization assists with exercising, grooming and transportation. They also help to arrange boarding services if someone was to have an extended hospital stay.

They also help older dogs transition to their next stage in life after the loss of a human.

Oak Bay resident Airan Felzien is one the key organizers bringing ElderDog to Victoria.

“A couple years ago when I saw this organization in a news article I looked in to the group and I thought it was a really wonderful organization, and I thought it would be really well suited for Victoria,” Felzien said.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island service dogs helping veterans deal with PTSD

Felzien reached out to ElderDog, though at the time they didn’t have the resources ready but were hoping to launch a chapter – rather, a Pawd – in Victoria in the future.

A few months ago ElderDog reached out to Felzien. They had managed to find a few like-minded volunteers, and wanted her to hep start a South Island Pawd. The Pawd here follows a newly launched Pawd in Vancouver.

Felzien says that part of what makes ElderDog special is that the group recognizes and honours the bond between humans and animals.

“In my profession I do see how certain individuals as they age they may get to a point where they may not be able to care for their animals the way that want to,” Felzien said. “I think it’s really important to be able to maintain that relationship. It’s really important for both the dog and the human. I think it’s a really great way to still maintain that relationship and foster the independence and keep the dogs in home as best as possible.”

The organization was founded in Nova Scotia by Dr. Ardra Cole in 2009, motivated partly by her research into the role family dogs played as caregivers for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It has since spread across Canada.

READ MORE: Early signs of Alzheimer’s focus of UVic study

At this stage the Victoria Pawd is looking for volunteers. So far Felzien says that they have six members who have taken on key organization roles. Felzien says the goal is to have enough volunteers so that can offer the full range of ElderDog services upon launch. ElderDog’s founder, Dr. Ardra Cole, said that she hopes to have Victoria’s Pawd up and running by the spring. Felzien was hesitant to name a specific date, but was pretty sure that they will be operational within the year.

Those interested in volunteering should check out the Facebook page “ElderDog Canada Victoria,” or visit www.elderdog.ca. Felzien says that volunteers should be prepared to volunteer three or four hours a week. They need people who are willing to take dogs on walks, act as fosters, aid with transport, or help with fundraising.



jesse.laufer@oakbaynews.com

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(Photo: ElderDogs Canada)

(Photo: ElderDogs Canada)

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