Orcas Island Trail Rides’ equine adventures lead beginning as well as veteran horsemen through mountainous terrain and old-growth forests in the depths of Orcas Island’s hinterlands. Donning long pants and sensible shoes, riders take in lush woods, verdant pastures, and rocky bluffs while atop one of nine amiable steeds. The South Arch Trail winds around craggy turf, thrilling riders with steep, narrow inclines and dive-bombing squirrels. A popular choice, the South Boundary Trail follows a similarly rugged path, though an extra hour is tacked on to drink in breathtaking views. The Island View trail carts riders to the peak of Mount Pickett, where panoramic bay scenes and photogenic mermen await. For safety, helmets are available on loan free of charge.
A winner in Vancouver magazine's Best of Vancouver 2010, West Coast Tails professional pet service is the brainchild of Candace Herrod, a former veterinary worker who grew up surrounded by pets. With the help of her husband, Ryan, she expanded her small pet-sitting business to include 16 bonded, insured, and pet-first-aid-trained attendants who perform services where pets are at their happiest—at home. When customers are away for extended periods of time, staff members stop by homes to give love and attention to dogs and cats that have grown bored of their toys and already plowed through the complete oeuvre of Dostoyevsky. They also walk dogs in private 30-minute sessions, brush up pets' manners with obedience training, and cart them around town with pet taxi services. For owners’ peace of mind, attendants care for pets seven days a week, including holidays, and field both special and last-minute requests. The company recently started offering equine care, during which attendants arrive at stables to pamper horses with grooming, lunging, and road walks.
As one of the first veterinary practices in Canada to install an underwater treadmill and therapy pool, Aldergrove Animal Hospital gives pets care that rivals what their owners get. In tandem with The SPAW Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, therapists heal dogs with aquatic care that ranges from therapeutic ultrasounds to non-impact water exercise. Of course, Drs. Jeff Bowra and Sharon Moloney and their team of animal-care specialists would prefer that dogs never need physical therapy, which is why they provide preventative and emergency veterinary care tailored for puppies and kittens through senior animals. They also strive to take care of animals beyond the hospital's facilities, giving owners online care guides on topics such as parasite prevention and how to save for dog college.
The dog-loving instructors at Q-Ball Agility—each possessing up to two decades of experience—take canine obedience to a whole new level. The experts go beyond standard sit and stay commands to bring out dogs' natural athleticism, teaching them and their owners to compete on agility courses punctuated by jumps, tunnels, climbing frames, and other obstacles. Dogs of any breed and nearly any age can bask in the fun, exercise, and social bonding that these and the centre's other canine-centred sports—such as flyball and rally obedience—provide. Of course, these feats of fitness can only be achieved with an understanding between each dog and its owner, so the centre also offers basic obedience classes to help pets learn the skills in sitting, heeling, and end-zone dancing that are essential on the agility course.
Master dog trainer Adam Smith transforms aggressive, fearful, and hyperactive dogs into well-adjusted companions. Eschewing treat-based reward training, Adam instead focuses on earning the trust of his canine students with positive energy and open communication. He then leads dogs through a training regimen designed to develop their minds, bodies, and ability to speak in a human voice. Working from the training centre at Anacare Kennels, Adam offers services that include short- and long-term care and training, stand-alone mini lectures and board-and-train boot camps.
When dog lovers travel, DogVacay keeps their pups out of impersonal kennels and connects them with responsible canine hosts in their city. Instead of awaiting their owner's return in a kennel cage, dogs get the run of the house along with daily walks, challenging games of Scrabble, and playtime with well-socialized animals. Owners can browse thousands of profiles from professional pet-sitters, retired veterinarians, and fellow dog lovers based on location, home size, and family pets. Each host undergoes a five-step vetting process that includes an online application, reference checks, a phone interview, online training, and community reviews. Dog sitters also offer day care, walking, and training, and some claim professional credentials such as training expertise or pet CPR. To ensure peace of mind, DogVacay provides insurance and emergency vet services as well as photo updates of the dog’s stay.