Volunteer Opportunities with ElderDog

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If you are looking for volunteer hours and love spending time with dogs, this is the charity for you.

Paw dog, Spencer from ElderDogs giving out paw-tographs (Kris Totter/Submitted)

What is ElderDog?

ElderDog Canada Inc. is a national, community-based, non-profit, and registered charity that assists and supports older adults in the care and well-being of their canine companions.

Kris Trotter, Pawd Leader for ElderDog Saint John describes the purpose of this organization, “ElderDog is dedicated to helping seniors who are living in their own home to keep their beloved dogs for as long as possible.”

What does volunteering with ElderDog look like?

Kris Trotter explains the responsibilities of dog walkers, “ElderDog volunteers provide supplemental walks and any other light dog duties a senior may need assistance with, such as light grooming, a drive to the vet, or dogfood delivery.”

Kylie MacKenzie/Submitted

There are additional roles volunteers can provide for seniors. Volunteers have the option to provide care and companionship for older dogs whose lives have been disrupted due to the illness or death of a human companion.

Kris Trotter comments on this saying, “If a senior must go to the hospital or other care for a period of time, ElderDog can provide the dog with a temporary foster home. And, when needed, ElderDog rehomes older dogs.”

Who should volunteer?

Kris Trotter provided a description of the ideal volunteer, “ElderDog volunteers are dog-lovers who may have their own dog but have love and energy to volunteer with other dogs as well, or they may not be currently able to have their own dog. Volunteering with ElderDog then becomes like a “timeshare” opportunity!”

Kris Trotter continued, “Volunteer walkers are committed to getting “their” dog out for a good romp in all kinds of weather, so they must be very reliable.”


How to volunteer

All ElderDog volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have a vulnerable-sector check done by local police.

Applications for walkers, fosters, and adopters are found here.

Kris Trotter explained the next steps following the application process, “Volunteers who have completed the application, background check and have their ID badge are matched with a senior and a dog and then provide one or more walks per week, sometimes for years. This arrangement leads to ongoing, meaningful friendships between the seniors, the volunteers, and the dogs.”

The history of ElderDog

ElderDog is a national registered charity founded by Dr. Ardra Cole, a university professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.

Photo submitted by Kris Trotter, Pawd Leader for ElderDog Saint John

There are 32 branches or “pawds” across Canada, including here in Saint John

The Saint John branch was started in June 2020 during the lockdown. Kris Trotter commented on the role of ElderDog during the pandemic, “Especially during the long lockdowns, getting out to walk (for the volunteers and dogs) and having someone at the door on a regular basis for the seniors, broke down the barriers of isolation and increased those important health-and-happiness factors.”

Other ways to help

Not interested in being a dog walker? No worries, there are more ways to help!

Kris Trotter gave examples of ways to get involved with ElderDog, “One of the greatest ways you can help is to spread the word to your older (senior) friends who have dogs or have friends with dogs. Winter is slippery and aging brings mobility issues, so ElderDog can help!  There are ElderDog “pawds” in Fredericton, Moncton, and Saint John as well as most other provinces.”

Kylie MacKenzie/Submitted

There is always a need for volunteer foster-care providers (temporary) and for people looking to provide a “fur-ever” home to a dog that had belonged to a senior who could no longer keep their buddy. So, if you are able or know of someone who is able, please reach out to ElderDog!

Get in touch

If you are interested in volunteering in the greater Saint John area, you can contact ElderDog Saint John via elderdogsaintjohn@gmail.com and on Facebook or Instagram by searching for ElderDog Canada: Saint John Pawd. Or you can head to Global Pet Foods on the east side of Saint John from 11:00-1:00 on February 18 and 25 for even more information.

Kylie is a second year Arts student who plans on majoring in English. Most days when Kylie's not studying, she can be found reading, baking, drinking coffee, or talking about her three dogs. She's very passionate about education, human rights, and literature.