Ardra - dog

(Photo source: ElderDog)

This Saturday (April 14, 2018), Dr. Ardra Cole, Acting Co-Dean and Professor in the Faculty of Education at the Mount, will unveil her new research exhibit titled “Grow Old Along with Me: The Meaning of Dogs in Seniors’ Lives” at the first of five public exhibits.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded project, supported by the Mount and ElderDog Canada, has been in development for the past two years. It features photos and commentary showing the everyday lives of seniors and their canine companions from several Nova Scotia communities.

The exhibit highlights the important roles dogs have in the health and well-being of seniors. Through the use of images, Ardra addresses two key questions: what does it mean for seniors to live in the company of canine companions, and how can this inter-species relationship be adequately described.

“As our population ages, it is everyone’s responsibility to better support the senior members of our communities. Acknowledging and fostering the vital role that dogs play in the health and well-being of seniors is an important part of that consideration.”

– Dr. Ardra Cole, Co-Dean and Professor, Faculty of Education

Ardra Cole award“As researchers, we set out to understand the meaning and significance older adults attach to their relationship with their dogs. What does that relationship look like? How does it help to define seniors’ lives? What is it about that relationship that communities need to pay attention to in order to foster positive ageing?,” Ardra explained.

The research team spent time with 14 individuals and their canine companions across Nova Scotia, taking photos and listening to their stories. The exhibits capture the attachment, responsibility, and unconditional love that is unique in these relationships.

“Our hope is that you connect with and act on what you learn through this exhibit,” notes Ardra. “If you have a dog in your life, perhaps you will see yourself in the words and photographs and have a new appreciation of your own relationship. Maybe you have a senior family member or neighbour who has a special relationship with her dog and you now have a better understanding of how important that relationship is and how you might support it.”

Ardra is the founder of ElderDog, a national community-based nonprofit dedicated to “dedicated to ageing people, ageing dogs, and the important connection they enjoy.” ElderDog seeks to “honour and preserve the human-animal bond through care, companionship, commemoration, and education.”

There will be five public exhibits of this work as follows (all are welcome!):

Old School Community Gathering Place
7962 NS Trunk 7, Musquodoboit Harbour
April 14 to 20 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Opening April 14, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Lunenburg School of the Arts
6 Prince Street, Lunenburg
April 28 to May 4 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Opening April 28, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

St. James United Church
1078 Prospect Road, Goodwood
May 12 to 18, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Opening May 12, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Parkland Clayton Park
Cameron Hall
118 Fairfax Drive, Halifax
May 26, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Parkland at the Lakes
Kinross Hall
112 Baker Drive, Dartmouth
May 29, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.