New dog greeter spreading smiles at prestigious B.C. hotel

Trained as a guide dog, Winston was ‘too friendly’ for official service

Winston officially started in his new role as canine ambassador at Fairmont Empress this week. Tracy Drake, director of Public Relations at Fairmont Empress, says he has received a warm welcome by both guests and staff. (Keri Coles/News staff)

The Fairmont Empress in Victoria has a new greeter who is winning hearts and spreading smiles.

Winston, a two-and-a-half-year-old puppy – three parts yellow lab and one part golden retriever – officially started in his role as canine ambassador this week.

“He is certainly the belle of the ball,” said Tracy Drake, director, Public Relations at Fairmont Empress. “He’s great with guests and the staff love him.”

Trained as a guide dog in Ontario by the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, Winston didn’t quite make the cut as a professional service dog.

“In Winston’s case he was too friendly,” said Drake. “It’s a great way to be a drop out. He’s perfect for us.”

RELATED: B.C. Guide dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers

The Fairmont chain occasionally works with Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, taking in dogs that didn’t wind up being suited to work as professional service dogs, for various reasons.

There are five canine ambassadors at Fairmont Hotels in British Columbia.

Hotel Vancouver has Ella and her best friend Elly, both former BC Guide Dog trainees who each found they were better suited to the social life of a hotel ambassador.

Chateau Lake Louise has Marcus who holds the esteemed title of Director of Pet Relations at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies.

Banff Springs Hotel has a black Labrador named Bear who brings 18 months of training to his position as a graduate of the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind Program.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler has Alta who is a black Labrador, and is “arguably the most popular team member of Fairmont Chateau Whistler.”

RELATED: Vancouver Island service dogs helping veterans deal with PTSD

Winston is the latest recruit and already has a popular following. He even has his own Instagram account for visitors who want to keep tabs on the friendly pup.

“It’s a great addition to the hotel. It’s a unique wellness piece. I think a lot of people find travel very stressful and having a dog or something that resembles home for them is very comforting,” said Drake.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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Trained as a guide dog in Ontario by the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, Winston didn’t quite make the cut as a professional service dog as he was “too friendly”. (Keri Coles/News staff)

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