British Columbia

Victoria group seeks volunteers to help older dog lovers care for their pets

A national volunteer organization that seeks to maintain healthy relationships between dogs and their aging humans is expanding to Victoria.

ElderDogs helps aging owners feed, groom, walk and transport their pooches

ElderDog is a Canada-wide organization that helps seniors with their pooches and also supports old dogs themselves. (Boryana Manzurova/Shutterstock)

It's a new trick for old dog owners. 

A national volunteer organization that seeks to maintain healthy relationships between dogs and their aging humans is expanding to Victoria.

ElderDog helps seniors care for dogs when doing so might be challenging. It also supports research and education into the value of human-animal bonds and advocates for the welfare of older dogs.

"A dog provides loyal and steadfast companionship, particularly for people who are living alone," ElderDog founder Ardra Cole told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"If somebody is older and and is starting to lose a little bit of independence or is perhaps challenged with some anxiety, depression or mental health issues, a dog ... can go a long way to helping people to feel needed."

ElderDog volunteers help older owners care for their pets by assisting with feeding, grooming, walking and transportation for vet visits.

It offers a foster and adoption program for older pooches and even has a bereavement support program for people whose pets have died.

Ardra is a professor of education at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax. Her research has examined the positive influence of dogs on seniors' well-being.

"We hear many older adults say, a dog gets me up and out in the day or the dog gives shape and structure to my day or if it weren't for my dog, I wouldn't get dressed," she explained.

"Those are really important benefits."

The organization has branches — or, "pawds," as they're known — in 17 Canadian cities. It's only existing B.C. pawd is in Vancouver.

ElderDog will begin offering services in Victoria in the spring, but is seeking to build a corps of volunteers now.

Anyone who wishes to apply can do so at the organization's website or Facebook page.

Listen to the full interview:

A national volunteer organization that seeks to maintain healthy relationships between dogs and their aging humans is expanding to Victoria. 10:51

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West