Saskatoon kennel club raises funds for palliative care

The Saskatoon Kennel and Obedience Club is raising funds for the palliative care unit at St. Paul's Hospital, which allows pets to visit their owners in their final days.

Members grateful St. Paul's Hospital allows pets to comfort owners facing their final days

A Papillon like this one comforted a Saskatoon Kennel and Obedience Club member in palliative care. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The past year has been a tough one for the Saskatoon Kennel and Obedience Club as three members, including one of its founders Joan Wiik, died in hospital.

Smiles came immediately to their faces.-  Dave Haddon 

The three women ended their days in palliative care at St. Paul's Hospital, and all enjoyed visits from their dogs, club member Dave Haddon said in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. 

From left to right: Late kennel club members Sherry Hudson, Joan Wiik and Elsie Gilchrist. (Courtesy Dave Haddon)

"It's beautiful to watch," he said. "It was so obvious how they perked up — smiles came immediately to their faces." 

The access the women had to their dogs surprised Haddon, and it persuaded the club to try to raise money to support palliative care and to honour their deaths. 

Joan Wiik, with the club since 1963, loved Shetland sheep dogs; for Elsie Gilchrist it was all about the Scottish terrier, and Sherry Hudson's last dog was a Papillon, a toy spaniel.

Haddon said the chance to spend time with the dogs brought the women great comfort.

"It's a wonderful feeling that you get of closeness," Haddon said. "There is warmth that they get. The dogs seem to sense the difference in their owner, and it is almost like they go to the next level and the dogs cuddle right in and they just don't want to leave."

Dave Haddon says it was easy to persuade kennel club members to raise money for the palliative care unit after they learned that dogs are welcome during end-of-life care. (CBC)

Club to present cheque 

Persuading the kennel club to support the compassionate work being done at St. Paul's was easy, according to Haddon. He also expressed gratitude for support from local businesses.

This weekend, the club is hosting a dog show and will take the opportunity to present a cheque to the palliative care unit.

Haddon said the goal was to raise about $1,000 and it appeared that figure might double. 

with files from Saskatoon Morning