The notion of “elders helping elders” illuminates another key element of the birth of the organization. The sudden death of Ardra’s older brother prompted a gloriously successful adoption into her family and canine pack. Mister Brown, an aging Chocolate Labrador Retriever and her brother’s constant companion, was traumatized by his death. Laden with an inoperable, crippling, cancerous growth on one of his legs, Mister Brown eventually succumbed to the invasive disease but not before enjoying a reawakening to life in the country. Other old dogs like Mister Brown are typically not as lucky; they are often abandoned. Considered unadoptable, ill and aging animals like Mister Brown often have doubtful futures. Ardra and her family’s care of Mister Brown was as rewarding for them as it was enlivening for the tired old dog. He is the poster boy for the project and his stylized image is found on the embroidered patch adopted by ElderDog Canada, which symbolizes the commemoration of older companion canines.
Ardra Cole, the founder of ElderDog Canada, is a university professor with a background in applied educational psychology, teaching and learning, ethics and research, and adult education and community development. She has been a faculty member in universities for 25 years and currently works as a senior administrator at a university. Also for many years Ardra has worked as a volunteer for Therapeutic Paws of Canada. She and her beloved, now retired, Tattoo were regular visitors to hospitalized patients receiving palliative care. Currently she serves as an Evaluator of prospective dog volunteers and their human companions. Ardra also has specialized grief counselling training in pet loss and bereavement.
Other ElderDog directors and officials have lifelong experience with canine companions as well as a range of other, invaluable expertise including, for example, financial planning, journalism, community development, teaching, writing, and researching. Each is committed to making ElderDog a resounding success.
So it is that ElderDog Canada represents a fortuitous coming together of two things: the researching of caregivers of the elderly which highlights the honouring of human needs and, the focus on preserving the lives and dignity of older canines who have served as companion animals for people living alone.
ElderDog Canada was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2009 and is currently preparing an application for charitable status.