Dogtopia: Deluxe doggy digs pads to the Prairies

Nearly 14 years ago, Virginia native Amy Nichols saw a need that was not being met. She saw dogs being left at home, lonely and without stimulation, as their people went to work each day. She saw too how this worried the pet parents, who wanted more for the life of their furry family member than 40 plus hours a week of solitude. Amy saw a hole and filled it, and thus Dogtopia was born: a spa/daycare/fun palace for canines of all shapes and sizes.

In 2005 Amy turned her business into a franchise and currently over-sees 29 locations across the country, and now? She’s bringing Dogtopia to Canada, opening in five provinces, including Manitoba. “Pet spending in Canada alone is estimated to top 8.9 billion, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council ( PIJAC) of Canada” says Amy. It seems, then, a natural choice for expansion.

Chris Aconley is the regional manager for Western Canada. He spent over a decade as the National Director of Computer Troubleshooters, growing the franchise to over 30 locations.

“It is very important to us that potential franchisees know they have the local support they need to be successful. My role at Dogtopia will also include the set-up of two corporate-owned locations, as well as a regional office. First and foremost, I love dogs. I have a big, black Lab named Bondi who will be spending many happy days at Dogtopia, once we open our doors.”

The services are broken down into three categories: daycare, overnight stays, and spa treatments.

Daycare includes abundant hours of playtime with other dogs. This encompasses toys, doggy forts, romping and socializing with other four-legged friends, sandwiched around well-deserved, much needed nap time. If you are anxious that your small Pomeranian may get intimidated by a bigger breed, or that your shy Malamute may prefer the company of calmer dogs, your concerns are met with multiple play areas, so that dogs are placed where best suited in age, temperament and breed. As well, the playrooms have non-slip rubber flooring, an important safety feature.

If you are going away for pleasure or business and seek an alternative to the often cold comfort of a kennel, overnight boarding is offered as well, with these dogs given the same perks and pleasures as the day care dogs.

Spa treatments offer the expected array of nail trims, baths and fur grooming, but with an innovative add-on, where clients can wash their own dogs in deep waist high tubs, minimizing back pain and the inevitable chaos of a home bath, while deepening the bond between pet and parent.

Of particular comfort are the live web cams where doggy Dads and Moms can log on and look in, to see for themselves how their dog is getting along at canine camp.

Dogtopia is active in the communities where they set up shop, and in 2010 alone raised and donated over 50,000 to local and national charities in the U.S.

Dogs are pack animals and so glean a tremendous amount of joy and comfort around their own kind. The staff are trained with an emphasis on dog language and communication, so they can more adeptly serve their canine charges.

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Samantha Bennett is a writer as well as co-founder of Soinsmillepattes, a pet care business based in Montreal. She can be reached at