Program puts pets first but don't tell that to this senior and her volunteer

On the surface, it’s about helping seniors keep their pets longer, but it ends up being a lot more.

Once a week, the student drops by to keep the kitty litter clean, but it's so much more than that

Pet assist program 2:20

On the surface, it's about helping seniors keep their pets longer — but it ends up being a lot more.

"It's not just a volunteer program. I actually get a close connection with her. I get to take a break from school, and it's a fun and enjoyable time coming to meet her. I am fortunate to be part of this program," Chloé Jackson told CBC News.

Jackson is a volunteer in the pet assist program run by the Calgary Seniors' Resource Society.

She was paired with a 98-year-old retired nurse who — while incredibly independent for her age — benefits from a little help now and again.

Izora Fraser has made a friend from a Calgary program that pairs seniors and volunteers. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

"I love watching the birds," Izora Fraser said.

"I sit in the bay window, and I can see them enjoying their feed and coming and going. It's wonderful. I have trouble walking, so it's hard to get out and do the bird feed. So that's where my friend comes in."

Did you catch that? Fraser calls Jackson a friend, not just a program volunteer. Friends mean a lot to Fraser, including those of the four-legged variety. She's got two cats.

"I sleep in this recliner, and kitty waits until I am settled in, and then he comes and lies on top of me. They are company day and night."

Izora Fraser loves watching the birds in her yard. Volunteer Chloé Jackson fills the bird feeders to keep them coming back. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

So Jackson helps keep their litter boxes in shipshape. And she puts bird feed in the bird feeders. And that keeps Fraser smiling, too.

"I tried to go one year without animals and I nearly went nuts. You can talk to animals and nobody thinks you are talking to yourself. I have always loved animals. They are friends. It's company. It's somebody to talk to and do things for, to look after," Fraser said.

"I can't be a nurse anymore, but I can look after them."

And Jackson gets some life tips from someone with almost a century of experience.

Chloé Jackson gets as much as she gives through volunteering with the pet assist program run by the Calgary Seniors' Resource Society. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

"I get support and get to see what she went through, and she can help steer me where I need to go," Jackson said.

"She's just as much a friend as she thinks I am to her."

Fraser loves their weekly visits. "She is such a dear person," she said.

"She makes me feel better when we have a visit."

These are the hands of two people. On the left is 98-year-old Izora Fraser — that's her cat getting all the cuddles — and on the right is Chloé Jackson, 19, a volunteer in the pet assist program. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

With files from Monty Kruger


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