The Westin Hotel in Ottawa, Canada has always been dog-friendly. The Westin caters to their canine guests by providing cozy dog beds and stainless steel bowls. The bellhops arrive to take pups for scheduled potty breaks, or even trips to the park while their owners shop.
The hotel’s latest endeavor has elevated them to a level far beyond “dog-friendly”. Last November the Westin Ottawa partnered with Ottawa Dog Rescue to establish the Westin Wags Program and help homeless pups find homes. The lobby of the hotel has become a temporary foster home to a select number of pooches comfortable enough to thrive in the noisy, bustling environment. Behavioral evaluations determine whether a potential Westin Wags pup has the appropriate temperament to move in to the hotel.
The dogs lounge on fluffy Westin pet beds in a roomy pen in full view of guests and passersby during the day, and are tucked safely away behind the front desk at night. The Westin Wags pen comes complete with a replica of Canada’s Centre Block built by the devoted staff. A tiny Canadian flag waves at the peak of the Peace Tower.
Westin employees dote on the pups with frequent walks and playtimes, but guests are also encouraged to visit with them. They can even “sign out” a favorite pooch for a walk. The more attention the dogs get, the better socialized they become; and the more folks that see them, the more likely they are to find forever homes.
Since the program’s inception last year, the Westin has been home to a pair of adorable puppies, a Chihuahua mix named Taco, and a variety of abandoned, abused and neglected dogs of varying age, breed and size from Ottawa Dog Rescue.
Small and medium sized dogs tend to do best in the hotel environment. General manager, Ross Meredith prides himself on the fact that none of the Westin Wags pups have ever snapped at a guest or fought with one another. He does admit that the two puppy siblings were a bit of a cleaning nightmare during their potty training days. Meredith quipped:”Let’s just say, after the two puppies were adopted, we did some carpet cleaning.”
The dogs spend an average of 2 to 3 weeks at the Westin before being adopted. Westin executive assistant, Elia Villamayor says it’s bittersweet to see the dogs go, on one hand they are off to live a life filled with love that all dogs deserve; but on the other, the staff mourn their furry friends’ absence. Until the next one arrives, of course!
Ross Meredith hopes that other Ottawa businesses will follow the Westin’s lead and open their doors to pups in need. He also believes that the presence of the dogs is a valuable asset to weary guests and stressed business people. What better way to unwind from a busy day of travel than a snuggle session or a bit of exercise with a friendly, adoptable pooch?
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