Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Come Visit Pawsway!

Animal lovers and their pets welcome at PawsWay Pet Discover Centre.The PawsWay Pet Discovery Centre in the Queen's Quay offers a variety of activities for both pets and people. Stock photo
If Ken Jackson and Susan Steane walk their dogs and then want to have an afternoon coffee, they don't have to drop their pooches off at home first. There are not many eateries in Toronto where pets are welcome, but the couple live across the street from a unique place that's unlike any other in Canada.
The PawsWay Pet Discovery Centre is an event and exhibit centre for people and their pets located in Queens Quay. Funded by Purina and simply known as the PawsWay, it's a fun, social and educational initiative aimed at promoting responsible pet care.
"It is truly a unique Canadian venture, and as far as we can tell there isn't anything like this anywhere else in the world," said Blair Keetch, operations manager of the PawsWay.
The 16,000-square-foot building houses many things including a 3,500-square-foot event centre, the Health and Discovery area full of dog and cat exhibits and interactive kiosks that can help people figure out things such as what breed of dog would be best for their lifestyle.
They also have a Williams Fresh Cafe where people can have a drink or a bite to eat with their dog or cat in tow.
"It's the only place in Toronto that has a pet-friendly dining area and it's signed off by the City of Toronto and the department of health and people will come in and, typically with their dogs,..they can sit there and have a meal or a coffee, and we do have a few people who do come in with their cats as well," Keetch said.
PawsWay also features the Purina Hall of Fame that recognizes dogs and cats that have saved the lives of their owners, a pet resource centre and a memorial area for people to celebrate and remember their pets that have died.
The event centre doubles as pet park and off-leash space for dogs.
Jackson said he and Steane like to make sure their dogs needs, both physical and mental, are met, and PawsWay is a great place for Shadow, their mini Australian shepherd, and Skyler, a toy Australian shepherd, to do just that.
Jackson said Australian shepherds are herding dogs and the off-leash area helps fulfills the need to use that skill.
"When we first went to off-leash, it's basically a big game of chase when one dog starts to run and a bunch of other dogs run after them, and one of our guys did a movement where he actually cut across the line to herd off the other dog...We both looked at each other and said 'Wow, who taught him that,'" Jackson said.
Besides an off-leash area, Keetch said they also have Rally-o, which is another way to exercise your dog, mentally and physically.
"It's a series of stations that you go around and at each station there is an obedience command you have to do, so it's a great way to reinforce obedience and deepen that bond," he said.
Jackson said they not only go to the PawsWay to socialize and exercise their dogs, but use it as a place to be social with like-minded animal people and learn new things. The couple goes at least four times a week and with so much to see and do, he said they enjoy it as much as their dogs.
"What we like about it is there are different activities," Jackson said. "We are pet people, we have cats as well as dogs, so we go for the world of cat events, we go to the dog events and it's interesting to learn about the world of animals."
There is always something different happening at the PawsWay and besides week-day events, the centre also hosts events each weekend or to commemorate holidays.
Keetch said they've hosted a meet Canadian dog breeds on Canada Day, grooming events where people can learn about proper grooming techniques, doggie freestyle dance as well as events to celebrate Halloween and Christmas. Keetch said the PawsWay has become a social place as much for the animals as their human companions.
"We've done singles events for pet lovers, summer camps where kids are welcome to come in and take tours and do activities and we've got a walking club on Wednesdays where people who want to get some exercise and get in shape with their dogs," he said.
Excluding their specialty classes, Keetch said most of their events are free, including their weekly agility playground, where equipment such as tunnels and ramps are set up, and staff is there to assist people to help train and work with their dogs to do basic agility.
"The wonderful things about agility is it works the dog physically, but just as importantly it stimulates the dog mentally, you never want to have a bored pet especially if you have a high-energy dog," Keetch said. "It also helps to reinforce basic obedience and develops an even stronger bond with your dog."
PawsWay recently celebrated its second anniversary and Keetch said many of their regular visitors brought their dogs in to demonstrate agility, freestyle dancing and many of the things they have learned at events and classes at the PawsWay.
The centre also hosts adoption events and works closely with shelters, rescue organizations and responsible breeders because Keetch said the most important component of the PawsWay is education, promoting responsible pet ownership and providing the resources to do so.
Jackson said the PawsWay has been a source of so many fun and educational events, and they even adopted a cat at one of the centre's adoption events. He added staff are friendly, trained and helpful and he recommends the PawsWay to anyone with a dog or a new puppy.
Visit www.pawsway.ca for their calendar of events and other information.

*Taken from insidetoronto.com

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