Hannah Hood, a daughter of ElderDog in-home support worker Jenn Hood, washing Mika. The Fredricton ElderDog Pawd coordinator, Alicia Stewart, describes Mika as “a very sweet ol’girl who is young at heart and absolutely adores her team and her walks.” (Submitted by Alicia Stewart, with permission from Jenn Hood)

What to expect when ElderDog walks into Victoria

“It’s hard to be able to afford to take care of your pets that you’ve had forever”

Interest continues to intensify for a proposed new service expected to launch soon in Greater Victoria.

ElderDog Pawd would provide assistance to elderly people and their canine companions, however the precise timing of when the service will be available is still undetermined and based on how many volunteers join the Island chapter.

Local organizer Airan Felzien said since the Oak Bay News first alerted readers, a lot of potential volunteers have reached out to the group.

While residents await further updates on local operations, clients who use the service in other parts of Canada have provided feedback on what seniors in Victoria can expect.

READ MORE: New ElderDog program helps seniors keep dogs at home

Eleanor Hrdlicka: Edmonton, Alta.

Eleanor Hrdlicka of Edmonton had two dogs, one of which was nearing her end. She was a lab shepard cross named Mitzy, and Hrdlicka said ElderDog was there to help Mitzy on her journey, and then help Hrdlicka cope with the loss afterwards.

“They paid for the euthanization of Mitzy, and the cremation of her,” Hrdlicka said. “They were very concerned about my emotional stress that I went through when I had to have Mitzy put down. And they were so concerned. They phoned me every few days just to see how things were going. They’re very compassionate. They care… they actually care.”

Hrdlicka phoned her local humane society, who put her in contact with the volunteers in her area.

“I don’t even have a clue what I would be doing without them. I knew I could no longer be taking proper care of them… take them to a vet or to even afford the vet,” she said. “I was looking at probably having to phone the humane society to come and take them, and it really would have broken my heart.”

In addition to walking Hrdlicka’s other dog Buddy and helping Mitzy in her last days, ElderDog also pays for some of Buddy’s appointments.

“When you’re a senior, and you’re living on your senior income, it’s hard to be able to afford to take care of the pets you’ve had forever. We’re not the only ones getting older, our pets are too.”

ElderDog does not provide the money for the veterinary services itself, but for Hrdlicka they did help to source donations. On rare occasions ElderDog can help to find funding, but it is not one of their marquee services.

Betty True: Fredericton, N.B.

True has a 14-year-old lab, Mika, who’s recently been diagnosed with the beginning stages of kidney failure. ElderDog helps Mika make the most of her time.

“At first Mika would look back at me, and I’d say ‘it’s O.K.’, but it wasn’t long before she wouldn’t look back,” True said. “Ever since I’ve found out about them, they’ve been routinely coming by. We’ve had really frigid weather in the evening and some of the girls would still come. It doesn’t matter to my dog what kind of weather it is.”

Volunteers have also helped take Mika for baths and pedicures. True and Mika have a variety of volunteers that help them out. Most volunteers are employed elsewhere too, but some are retirees or younger folks as well.

Sylvia Shaw: Lunenburg, N.S.

Shaw heard about ElderDogs through a friend. She primarily uses the volunteer dog walking service to exercise her dachshund, Sally. It turned out her current walker, Tobi Ernst, was a student of hers years ago. Shaw, now 92, taught Ernst when she was in Grade 8.

“I didn’t know who was coming to take Sally out, and I saw Tobi and I knew I taught her in school,” Shaw said. “And now she’s a married women with two teenage boys. She loves Sally and I love her, and it’s so good for Sally to get a walk.”

Shaw, like True and Hrdlicka, doesn’t know what she would do without ElderDog.

“They send people from the organization to your house before anything happens, and then they arrange for a walker. It wasn’t a long time in the interim, it was done very promptly,” Shaw said. “I want to emphasize the fact that it’s been a life saver for me. Because Sally’s getting the care that she couldn’t have, you know? Getting out everyday and going for walks. It’s thanks to that organization.”

If Shaw was able, she said she would like to help the Victoria Pawd get running.

READ MORE: Legend of Victoria dog ‘Cody’ lives on with successful pet drive

When the Oak Bay News first reported on ElderDog, they had just launched their Facebook page. In less than a week it already has over 100 followers. Those interested in volunteering, or seeking help can visit www.elderdog.ca.



jesse.laufer@oakbaynews.com

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