ICAN volunteers

COMMUNITY: ICAN Dogs it with seniors

Barking good time when they visit the residents of Ivy House.

On the third Friday of every month, Invermere Companion Animal Network (ICAN) volunteers and their canine friends have a barking good time when they visit the residents of Ivy House.

“It’s really fun. The dogs know they have a job to do here. The minute the doors (to Ivy House) open, they stop whatever they are doing and head right in,” said ICAN volunteer Donna Deschenes during the Friday, November 21st visit, adding that interacting with animals is not only enjoyable for the seniors living in Ivy House, but can also be therapeutic.

“It’s so awesome to see how happy they (the Ivy House residents) are to see the dogs,” said Deschenes.

The November 21st ICAN visit involved three dogs — golden doodle named Lexi and a pair of Shi Tzu-Cairn Terrier mixes named Chico and Chewbacca.

The animals first greeted a group of waiting Ivy House residents, giving hugs, affection and performing tricks, before the ICAN volunteers took the pets individually to each person and then visited Ivy House residents who had chosen to stay in their rooms.

The visits are so successful that, starting in January, ICAN volunteers are planning to start visiting Ivy House with their dogs twice a month. In the summer, when residents and pets can be in an enclosed space outdoors, the volunteers also brings cats on their visits.