Business

Fetching a workout with Fido

[attach]3198[/attach]The dog changed her life.

The canine in question: a loveable fluffy-looking mutt named Chewy rescued from the Toronto Humane Society.

The young lady: an advertising career girl who wondered if she couldn’t combine her boot camp-style workout with her new pooch’s exercise regime.

That was almost three years ago. Now Beach resident and dog lover Sal Sloan has just completed her first season as a new business owner.

Sloan’s company, Fetching, launched in the Beach in the fall and provides dog owners with a boot camp-style workout they can bring their dogs to.

“It didn’t make sense to me,” says Sloan, who describes her early days with Chewy and the demands of walking him several times a day and then doing her own boot camp workout.

“I wished I could just bring Chewy to my boot camp.”

The concept evolved slowly, she says, starting with a germ of an idea involving fitness, dogs and lifestyle.

[attach]3199[/attach]Then, after inviting some local dog owner pals over to her place, Sloan says she conducted an informal focus group by tossing out the question, “Dogs and exercise – what do you think?”

What came out of that exercise, Sloan says, was that many people felt they didn’t have enough time to spend with their dogs.

After that, Sloan went home to her native Vancouver and really started solidifying the concept.

To get the business up and running, she obtained her CanFit Pro personal trainer certification – she’s always been into fitness, she says – and hired a dog trainer. Her classes alternate between the personal and dog trainer teaching different exercises and drills.

There are other companies that combine dog workouts with boot camp fitness, Sloan says, but what’s different about Fetching is that sessions incorporate agility training and obedience training for dogs.

Many people just don’t have time to work on their dog’s obedience, she says.

A Richard Ivey Business School grad from Western University, Sloan says she always wanted to be an entrepreneur but never had a business idea before Fetching.

There have been fast lessons along the way. Initially she offered drop-in classes so people could try out classes before committing to an entire two-month session. But the drop-in component disrupted the flow of the class for those who were there for the entire session.

That said, Sloan says she’s open to working with drop-ins and also offers private and semi-private classes.

Classes were initially held outdoors in the fall, but the feedback from clients was that it was too cold. In January sessions will be held in St. Aidan’s Church in the Beach, but will shift to outdoor locations like Kew Gardens in the warmer months.

The response so far has been so positive that Sloan has already expanded to the Annex area and will be launching in the new year in Leaside. She’s also hoping to hire another dog trainer and personal trainer.

As for her quality of life, Sloan says she’s a totally different person since launching the biz. The advertising world wasn’t very rewarding, she says.

“Chewy effectively changed the entire direction of my career.”

As for Chewy, he’s always at the sessions when Sloan is teaching – granted on the sidelines, but Sloan says she’ll often run him through the agility obstacle course after the class is done.

“He’s always there with me.”

Sessions in the Beach and other areas are set to begin the week of January 10. Schedules can be found at [url=http://www.fetching.ca]Fetching[/url].