School’s in Session … for the dogs!


Fiona (back), Willow (l) and Ferghus.

compiled by Glenda Jones

Kinburn’s Fitzroy Centennial Public School is still a centre for learning. But the pupils? They’re a little different from students of yesteryear. Certainly hairier, they’re nonetheless eager to please. You can tell by the way their tails wag.

Here at 3765 Loggers Way, just off Kinburn Side Road, you won’t find any reading, writing and arithmetic. But if Shep is counter surfing or Molly is gnawing on the furniture, you’ve got the right place. Tucked at the back of the building right next to the old playground, there’s a canine training facility called Ferghus & Company.

Owners Erica and Andrew Mactaggart love dogs. They had a vision to provide dog owners with a one-stop location offering complete care for their companions, and they
made it a reality here in rural west Ottawa. The venture made sense for a lot of reasons. Since Erica and Andrew run Willow Afghan Hound Rescue and they were active with a number of local rescue organizations, they were both comfortable with all breeds of dogs. While they were running a dog-walking service in Kanata, Erica immersed herself in training courses, from obedience to agility. And soon they realized their walking service needed a more customized space.

They found the perfect spot. This seven-acre site in Kinburn meant they could offer a more varied program that included outdoor playtime, daycare, and grooming. The close proximity to the old school was too good to pass up, and now they have enlarged the business to encompass a fully accessible, state-of-the-art canine centre that caters to puppy play dates, grooming, retail space, educational talks, specific training, workshops, seminars and more.

While Andrew takes care of transporting dogs to and from daily romps, Erica is in charge of the “school,” a unique facility that will appeal to anyone with a dog of any size. From top-of-the-line dog food and treats to a dedicated training gym outfitted with new equipment, this place has it all. You’ll be happy to know there’s a do-it-yourself grooming parlour, complete with a raised tub, grooming table, tools, shampoo and towel service. That means if Finnegan or Ryly chases a squirrel into the bog or rolls in the dirt, your master bathroom doesn’t have to get filthy. A professional groomer can also be hired to do the job if the process intimidates you. (Burrs, anyone?) In addition, the Mactaggarts are looking to install a recreational swimming pool for dogs.

The outdoor area is fully functional, with a regulation-sized agility field and a large, fenced off-leash play area next to a small play yard off the gym. Safety is a main concern, so all areas are protected with secure gates to ensure dogs and owners can participate in confidence.

In order to maximize use of the gym, Erica has experienced trainers running classes ranging from basic obedience and puppy training to Rally-O and agility. Workshops and veterinary lectures are also on the schedule. Kids are encouraged to come with their dogs to learn what fun they can have together. The Mactaggarts’ seven-year-old daughter is the first to attest to the fun a dog can provide.

According to Erica, Ferghus & Company is meant to be a haven for all things “dog.” She and her family have dedicated themselves to making the centre a warm, welcoming and safe place where people can gather with their pets to play, learn, and simply hang out together when they want. The welcoming committee includes Ferghus, a laid-back golden retriever, Willow, Ferg’s wiry sidekick, and Fiona, a nonchalant cat who seems to own the front lobby.

Located just minutes off Highway 417, this canine centre is easily accessible for dog owners from all over. Visitors are welcome to drop in and tour the centre, stay and play, or return for classes.


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