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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Raising more than $1,300 for the KVHS’s dementia home project, Dennis and Brenda Horwood leave Kitimat with a bang and start their new retirement journey together. (Photo supplied)
KVHS thanks local Kitimat couple for their contributions to the dementia home project

Dennis and Brenda Horwood raise $1,360 during a retirement garage sale

No increase in fees will be made by the leisure services department in the summer months. Reviews will be made again in May/June for any recommended fee adjustments in the fall. (District of Kitimat photo)
District of Kitimat halt leisure fee increases until the fall

The Leisure Services Advisory Commission recommended no increase take place at this time

Mount Elizabeth Theatre have been approved for a provision of funding by city council for up to $42,000. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat’s multi-use theatre grant request approved for live streaming equipment

A funding commitment of up to $42,000 was granted from council to the Mount Elizabeth Theatre

Tracy Owen-Best with her husband, Larry Best. Tracy runs both the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials Salon in Kitimat. Diagnosed with cancer in March 2020, she’s kept a positive mindset with the help from a supportive family. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Tracy Owen-Best

Barbershop owner and cancer fighter keeps it positive

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read