A doggy spa and daycare got a surprise when one of their furry friends showed up this past Saturday morning with no owner in sight.
Shawn Bennett is one of the owners at Happy Tails Pet Resort and Spa, which has two locations in Winnipeg.
"Jem decided on Saturday morning that her parents were not getting up quick enough to take her to Happy Tails. She often comes Saturdays or Sundays," says Bennett.
Jem is a five-year-old Shepard-cross that has been coming to Happy Tails since she was a puppy, according to Bennett.
"It's about five blocks from her house to Happy Tails on St. Anne's Rd. Thankfully she did it safely."
It was early in the morning when Jem jumped her own fence and then wandered over to the facility around 6:30 am. Before COVID-19 hit, Jem came to daycare a few times a week but since the pandemic, her parents bring her roughly once a week.
Jem clearly enjoys it, as she enters Happy Tails with her tail wagging and tongue out, hoping to spend the day from the footage the daycare shared on their Facebook page.
"One of our great staff that's been with us for years, Marty, he was there. We have a second barrier at our front door with a fence and he could see a little nose poking through the fence."
As there hadn't been any headlights coming into the parking lot and it was still dark, the staff member didn't think it was any dogs coming to daycare yet.
"He didn't know if it was a stray dog and that's what he thought at first. When he looked out, he realized it was one of our dogs."
Marty let Jem in and checked her over to make sure she was okay, considering there were no humans with her.
"He put her into daycare, then phoned the parents and asked, 'Are you missing something?'"
The impressive part is that, according to Bennet, he's only seen the dog's parents drive her to daycare in the past. If that is true, it means Jem found her way to the daycare using her own intuition and nose.
Happy Tails was started by Shawn and his wife Nadine when their daughter Celeste came up with the idea.
"Celeste was in pre-vet studies. She came home one day and said she couldn't do it. She was working at another doggy daycare and told us that's what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Then we opened our own."
The family opened up a second location on Samborski Drive in 2018.
"We grew quickly. One of the things we focus on is just providing a safe place for dogs," says Bennett.
He has witnessed many dogs act differently since the pandemic as their world has changed as well.
"This Jem story is absolutely indicative of what's happening in the pet world right now. With the pandemic, dogs' lives are upsidedown right now. They're not used to us being home all the time."
Bennett offers advice on how to help pets during this time.
"It's so important to keep somewhat of a normal schedule for our dogs. Don't change the feeding program because you're home now, because you're not going to be forever. Don't change when you wake up in the morning or let them out. Otherwise, it'll be a shock to them when we get back to a normal routine," says Bennett.