Passion for dogs leads to Dogtopia in Don Valley

The pursuit of their passion over several years finally culminated in Bryan Ward and Kelly Downing being able to open their Dogtopia franchise in the Don Valley area.

Their canine daycare, boarding and spa — Dogtopia’s second location in Toronto — opened on Nov. 16 in the Parkway Mall at Victoria Park Avenue and Ellesmere Road.

“It’s a passion pursuit for us,” Downing says. “Together, we are able to do what we love every day. We were fostering dogs for a couple of years, and that ignited that passion for dogs and turning it into the business.”

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Ward adds, “We just decided that if we were going to take a risk, we might as well try to do something that we enjoy doing every day.”

The search for a location for their dog care business turned out well.

“I grew up two blocks away,” Ward says. “So I knew the area very well — that was the first reason for selecting here.”

They researched quite a few locations, but after looking at what spaces were available and the market, they chose to launch in the Don Valley area.

From the time they bought the franchise, through looking for a location, to finishing their building our building, took about two years — longer than expected, as construction was stopped and delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Essential business

And of course the virus is till affecting their business in its early days.

As an essential business, Dogtopia remains open, offering curbside pickup and dropoff of pets.

They are also getting a lot of “COVID puppies,” pets people have acquired to keep them company during the pandemic.

“They haven’t been able to socialize the puppies very well, so they are bringing them to us so that the dogs can socialize properly,” Ward says.

HAPPY DOG: Max is not exactly camera-shy, greeting the photographer in one of Dogtopia’s open play areas.

The facility can handle up to 80 dogs, depending on the animals’ sizes. And with people concerned these days about a human disease, great care is taken at Dogtopia to avoid the spread of canine diseases.

All the rooms, including three large open-play areas, have their own HVAC system with UV lights, all aimed at killing dog diseases — but which incidentally also acts against COVID.

“It’s a very safe building to be in right now,” according to Ward.

All dogs get to play with each other in an open format with K9 coaches that are trained to read dogs’ body language and intercede before any problems arise among them.

Dogtopia also offers grooming services and a full boarding facility, as well as walk services.

The Don Valley location can be reached at 647-258-5466 or see its website.