A group assisting older adults in the care and well-being of their dogs has now expanded into the Comox Valley.
ElderDog Canada is a national, community-based non-profit providing free assistance with daily activities such as dog walking, transportation to pet visits and food delivery.
There were two branches of ElderDog on Vancouver Island – Victoria and Nanaimo – but recently a new branch opened in the Valley with a roster of about 20 to 25 volunteers.
“We started meeting virtually at the end of February … it’s been a little bit of a challenge getting the ‘pawd’ up and running because we’re not meeting face to face, but it’s getting there,” explained Lauren Lan, education/outreach co-ordinator for the local chapter.
She explained the chapter began after she saw the need in the area and was inspired by the other Island chapters. For many seniors, dogs are often some of the most important relationships in their lives, she added.
“Sometimes they are lonely and isolated, and ElderDog helps maintain connections between humans and dogs, and in the Comox Valley especially, there is a significant elderly population.”
There are 26 ElderDog chapters across eight provinces within the country, with around 2,700 volunteers. Because the organization is designated as an essential service, it is able to continue operating throughout the pandemic.
Lan said there is no fee for the service, which includes in-home dog care (including walks, nail trims), rehoming and education, particularly the important role dogs play in the lives of seniors.
The chapter has received the support of a few local veterinarians who can assist in providing care.
Despite the Valley chapter recently coming online, they already have one client to support and are accepting others.
“We start with an initial phone call to determine the need and then we do an assessment, and then reach out to our volunteer base. It’s really great to see how valuable this service can be,” Lan said. “We do have a few more initial visits coming up; it’s pretty exciting, even just after a few months.”
The chapter is seeking volunteers both in the Valley and further north, as they recently accepted a client from Campbell River; they are also in need of registered foster homes. Anyone who would like more information or who would like to volunteer is encouraged to reach out via email at ElderdogCVvol@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page at Elderdog Canada Comox Valley Pawd.