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Seniors and aging pets: Elderdog Tri-Cities aims to keep Fido at home

Elderdog Canada's Tri-Cities "pawd" seeks volunteers to help seniors with dogs, or owners with mature canines.
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Elderdog Canada’s Tri-Cities crew: Maureen Busby, volunteer communications coordinator (with Raisin, age 8 years); Loretta Wos, a client (with Willow, age 7 years); and Susanne Fry, volunteer coordinator (with Theo, age 7.5 years).

Loretta Wos doesn't have much time to walk her three dogs.

The Coquitlam resident works as a care aid at night and, when her shift ends at 7 a.m., Wos hasn't got the energy to take her pets out for a long stroll.

A few years back, Wos heard about a national charity called Elderdog Canada that provides a canine service to seniors, or masters with mature dogs.

She signed up immediately and has been grateful ever since.

"I get home, I feed my dogs and, by 9:30 a.m., I've got a volunteer at my door waiting to take them out for an hour's walk....Everybody is so nice."

Last March, the registered non-profit branched out into the Tri-Cities to create a local team, or "pawd" (pod), to help seniors or their senior dogs.

The aim, said Maureen Busby, the volunteer communications coordinator for the area, is to keep the dogs in their home as they, or their owners, age.

The volunteer service is more than just walking, she said: The team also attends to the pet’s vet appointments, takes them in for grooming and, if needed, arranges for fostering while the owner is temporarily away from the home or in the hospital.

Elderdog is also ideal for volunteers who can’t have or don't want to have pets in their home, or love dogs but don't have enough time to keep one.

Both Busby and Susanne Fry, the pawd's volunteer coordinator, said they’re busy up in the air a lot so they can’t accommodate animals in their homes full time: Busby is a flight attendant while Fry is travelling around the world in her retirement.

Lending a hand "is a really nice way to get out in the community and be with new people," Busby said. "We want the dogs to have a good quality of life."

"We want to keep love in the home," Fry added.

Currently, Elderdog Tri-Cities has 25 active members and six clients.

Fry said the pawd will match a dog that the volunteer likes and is able to handle.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and go through a criminal record check before they are verified.

Once approved, they will receive information from the national office in Nova Scotia, as well as a red lanyard and identification to be worn on outings (the pet owner is also supplied with a collar tag for the dog).

Otherwise, the rules are simple for volunteers, Fry said: Keep the dog leashed at all times and don’t visit off-leash dog parks.

On May 7, members of Elderdog Tri-Cities will be at the City Centre branch of the Coquitlam Public Library (1169 Pinetree Way) for the Spring Volunteer Job Fair to promote its pawd and to recruit potential candidates.

Besides walkers, the group needs to fill executive positions such as secretary and treasurer, as well as pawd leader.

How can I help?

Those interested in helping Elderdog Tri-Cities can contact the organization by emailing elderdogtricitiesvc@gmail.com or using these online platforms:

  • Website: elderdog.ca
  • Facebook: Elderdog Canada Tri-Cities
  • Instagram: @elderdogtricities