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

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Burning will only occur if weather conditions are suitable and allow smoke to dissipate. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Pile burning of 50 wood debris in Burns Lake community forest

Smoke might be visible for Burns Lake and neighboring areas

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read