PawsWay, in Toronto, Ontario, will have you tearing up reading the tributes to brave and intuitive hero animals whose photos hang in its Purina Animal Hall of Fame, one of several things to see here.
Or it did me, the first time I visited Purina PawsWay – a unique amalgamation: part hall of fame, part educational museum, and part pet activity centre along Toronto’s Queens Quay.
The second time I went, I took Victor so he could give the obstacle course in the back room a try. He peed constantly – in every corner of the leash-free climate-controlled doggie activity centre – just to let everyone know he was there.
The third time I went, it was closed. Don`t go on Tuesdays. Strangely, it’s closed on Tuesdays.
PawsWay is s museum and a leash free dog run for those who love their four-legged family members. The front section is an exhibition of cat and dog history, health and social importance, sponsored by Purina. The pet mannequines have been updated with informative computer terminals, and a new cat adoption play area attracts potential new fur parents. Special events, such as Vet Q&A sessions and meet ups for pet people, are hosted here too.
The next room is the tear-jerking “Tails of Courage“ and Purina Animal Hall of Fame tribute to hero pets and service dogs whose bravery, intelligence and devotion saved lives (sometimes at the expense of their own). Celebrated are dogs like Ace who tracked and located a woman buried under snow for 72 hours, and cats like Melo who alerted her diabetic owner to dangerously low blood sugar levels.
But the backroom is where the magic happens. The agility area is open to the public at certain times (other times are free play).
It’s here where Victor left his mark and applied his unique brand of enthusiasm to the course.
“You have to encourage him slowly and use an excited rewarding voice so he’s not afraid,” said the well-meaning trainer about my crazy schnoodle.
No, he raced through the tunnels without hesitation. (He runs through street sewers too. Yes, under roads). He walked across the teeter-totter with only minimal pause. He needed no verbal encouragement … he rarely listens to me anyway.
But maneuvering in and out of poles was not going to happen. Clearly, the path of least resistance was faster, which is Victor’s usual speed of choice.
In addition to leash-free fun and weekly meet and greets, the Williams Cafe coffee shop in the building is most popular with locals, primarily because it’s the only place in the city – thanks to a ridiculous provincial law – that allows dogs on site, even on patios.
So bring your dog for coffee – though he’ll likely prefer water – and relax or enjoy casual conversation with like-minded pet lovers. And even if you don’t have Fido in tow, checkout the PawsWay museum, along with the Harbour Front Arts Centre and contemporary art gallery nearby.
Update: Unfortunately, Pawsway closed late 2018 when its lease was not renewed.
PawsWay is one of many features along Toronto’s upscale and arty waterfront within view of the airplanes landing at the Billy Bishop Island Airport in Lake Ontario. Find a complete guide to Toronto here.
Like this? Find out where else you can take your dog here.
Visiting Toronto? Check out this illustrated Fodor’s 25 Best Guide for highlights.