Calgary is home to over 1.2 million people and another 135 000 dogs. With its location nestled in the foothills and a picturesque backdrop of the majestic Rockies, it is a city meant to be enjoyed outside. There is something good for your soul when you breathe in that fresh air and allow your eyes to scan the horizon, taking in all the natural beauty. But Calgary has more than just beauty in its bragging ranks, it is also a very pet-friendly city.
For those of us lucky enough to call Calgary home we enjoy being able to take our pups for a romp in one of the many parks. Calgarians and their dogs have the choice of 150 off-leash parks, totaling more than 1250 hectares (that’s over 3000 acres). More dedicated off-leash space than anywhere else in North America. In addition, another 800 km of pathways beg to be explored, all conveniently located within our city limits. That is a pretty impressive boasting point.
Calgary has been breaking ground and leading the way in creating and implementing Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaws since 2006, a program that was led by Bill Bruce. This model for pet ownership is now being copied by other cities, the world over. This means that while Calgary may have some of the stiffest penalties for lazy or irresponsible owners, the rest of us can enjoy more freedoms with our dogs. Calgary’s reputation as a leader in pet ownership has helped our own city to avoid breed bans, reduce dog attacks and bites, and lessened the load on shelters by promoting identification for pets and responsible spay and neuter initiatives.
A walk in one of our parks and you may encounter another of Calgary’s Responsible Pet Bylaw programs, a volunteer Off Leash Ambassador. These volunteers offer information, free training events and act as ambassadors at parks. This helps to ensure everyone’s enjoyment of the parks and multi-use areas so dogs, owners, and the general public can co-exist harmoniously.
While hotels have long been known for being pet-friendly, the list of other businesses advertising pets welcome continues to grow. Calgary is now home to a brewery and several patios which allows you to bring your dog and enjoy a cold pint on a hot day. There is even a cat café where you can enjoy a hot beverage and then cuddle adoptable cats. Take a walk down Stephen Ave, 17th or Kensington and you may be surprised at which stores have Fido Welcome signs hung in the windows. Many offer water bowls for hot days and even treats by the checkout. During record high temperatures, many stores will insist you bring your dog in rather than risking leaving them in a hot car. If they don’t serve food, there is a good chance they may be dog-friendly. Some big box, home furnishing, hardware, auto parts and other retail stores, as well as garden centers, allow dogs to accompany their owners, but you should check each store’s location for their pet policy before heading in.
You may have heard about goat yoga, but did you know its now gone to the dogs? And it’s not just some yoga classes that are offering classes with your dog. There are a number of exercise programs that are created around a workout for you both. This may be great for your body, but it will also test your training and handling skills with your dog too.
There are lots to see and do around “town”. Each year Calgary hosts expos that are for dog and pet enthusiasts. Keep your eyes peeled to popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for special events that host Rover as their guest of honor. There is no end to the types of events you can see, visit and participate in. They can be anything from adopt-a-thons, photo shoots, special events, and promos. You won’t want to miss the running of the bulls (Bulldogs) or the Chihuahua races. More recently, new street festivals are advertising that they are dog-friendly too. And don’t forget to take a splash in the city’s outdoor pools when they open the doors on the last day of the season for the dogs to enjoy a good swim.
It doesn’t stop there. More than ever, businesses are catering to our pampered pooches, using dogs as part of their marketing strategies, and its working. Calgary’s hot real estate market has also had its mark left by our pets. Many realtors and property management companies advertise pet-friendly options. Bring your dog to work day? It’s a regular occurrence in some offices, with more employers advertising a pet-friendly workspace as one of the perks on the job. And why not? It has proven to improve productivity and reduce stress. Even cleaning companies are branching out offering services catering to pet owners and ensuring they only use pet safe products.
People sure love their dogs and Calgary has so many wonderful options when it comes to including our beloved four-legged family members. The city wants to ensure that our city is accessible to ALL of its citizens. If you have a bit of a commute to get to these dog hot spots, hop on the very pet-friendly Calgary Transit, where well behaved, leashed dogs ride for free, (other pets must be caged). What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy some of the many pet-friendly amenities our beautiful city has to offer.