CA­NINES RUFF IT AT ADORABLE DOGGYTOWN

Dogs so­cial­ize at South Shore fa­cil­ity, get pam­pered at Griffin­town groom­ing spa

Montreal Gazette - - CULTURE - ROCHELLE LASH Ho­tel In­tel

I see tails wag­ging and noses quiv­er­ing with ex­cite­ment. While Mon­treal’s snow­birds plan their va­ca­tions, their pets are mak­ing tracks to Adorable Doggytown.

I read about Adorable Doggytown in the New Yorkie Tri­bune. There are two lo­ca­tions: a groom­ing spa in Griffin­town and a spa­cious board­ing fa­cil­ity on the South Shore (with free trans­porta­tion be­tween them). Doggytown works a bit like Hairbnb. Each dog gets a pri­vate sleep space, and owner Do­minique Firetto and his team act as hosts, or­ga­niz­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

I asked about deluxe ameni­ties like Pet­flix or Dog Pérignon, but no way — Doggytown is rather rus­tic. The board­ing fa­cil­ity is in the heart of farm­ing coun­try, and the dogs love ruff­ing it in the barn and in the large fenced field.

You never know who you’ll meet. The guest reg­is­ter lists Very Im­por­tant Pooches such as Justin Re­triever and Bark Wahlberg. Brad Pit Bull has made the scene, but he’s only wel­come back if he’s on his best be­hav­iour.

Di­ver­sity is fun­da­men­tal to Doggytown’s ethos, and the fa­cil­ity wel­comes all breeds and colours. It has hosted a Ti­betan ter­rier, a Rhode­sian ridge­back, an Ir­ish wolfhound and a Bri­tish bull­dog.

The ul­ti­mate in po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness? Doggytown even ac­cepts cats.

Coun­try re­sort: Adorable Doggytown Coun­try Club op­er­ates in a for­mer ranch in a pas­toral South Shore com­mu­nity. Its ex­er­cise pro­gram sets it apart from many other board­ing places: the ca­nine guests spend hours run­ning and play­ing freely, in groups. There’s a large en­closed field with a climb­ing play­ground, so the dogs can bound over rock gar­dens, up ramps and through tun­nels that ap­prox­i­mate some of the ob­sta­cles their an­ces­tors en­coun­tered in forests and fields.

“Even city dogs have a lit­tle wild in them,” said Firetto, who lives on the prop­erty and is hands-on in manag­ing the ken­nel. “Their pri­or­i­ties are to so­cial­ize, run like crazy and have some­thing to chew.

“Dogs are lonely when all they have is a dog walker com­ing a few times a day. Go­ing to Doggytown means fun, fresh air and new friends.

“Dogs don’t care about fancy things,” said Firetto.

To that end, the board­ers stay in a barn that has been di­vided into rus­tic sleep­ing spa­ces. Each dog has a 2.6-square-me­tre “room,” with a pil­low for com­fort and wood chips to ab­sorb damp­ness.

“The dogs aren’t cry­ing or howl­ing to get out of their ken­nels, be­cause they get lots of ex­er­cise. We play clas­si­cal mu­sic, and the most im­por­tant thing is that we also give hugs,” said Firetto. “They’re happy to be out­doors, but they also are miss­ing their own­ers, and we rec­og­nize that.”

Griffin­town spa: Adorable Doggytown’s down­town branch han­dles groom­ing and hourly day­care ( but not overnight). Treat­ments in­clude baths, man­i­cures, hairstyling and trims around the bikini, the belly and the paws. Fa­cial care in­cludes the cleans­ing of eyes, teeth, ears and nose.

Sig­na­ture spa ser­vices in­clude the SOS Mouf­fette (anti-skunk), anti-shed­ding sham­poos and vanilla in­fu­sions, which give a pleas­ant aroma to damp fur. Back­story: Firetto is an award­win­ning dog han­dler who breeds Siberian huskies. He has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in show groom­ing and judg­ing, train­ing and an­i­mal wel­fare. His phi­los­o­phy fo­cuses on a har­mony be­tween the phys­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing of each an­i­mal.

The neigh­bour­hood: St-Jac­quesle-Mineur is in a rich agri­cul­tural re­gion. Pet own­ers who come to see Doggytown can also visit the vine­yard Domaine St-Jac­ques (do­mainest-jac­ques.com), which is a stop along the Route des Vins, a sea­sonal food and wine

route.

The farm Au Fil du Vent (au­fil­du­vent.ca) grows grapes, berries, hazel­nuts and alpine plants, and sells gourmet prod­ucts in­clud­ing fruit pâtes, syrups and its sig­na­ture bev­er­age, ver­jus.

PHO­TOS: MARJOLAINE MAILHOT

Do­minique Firetto and some board­ers at Adorable Doggytown, a ca­nine coun­try re­sort on the South Shore.

The climb­ing play­ground at Adorable Doggytown pro­vides end­less ex­er­cise.

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