Muffin-stealing guide dog found a new life

Dave the Dog, a fixture for years at Sidney's Pier Hotel, with be hard to replace.

  • May. 14, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Harry Jordan

Dave washed out of guide dog school.

Yet, what prevented him from having a career as a canine life-saver, made him the perfect companion for visitors to Sidney.

As long as they kept an eye on their muffins.

On Friday, May 8, Dave the black Labrador Retriever offically retired from the staff of the Sidney Pier Hotel. The lobby was full of well-wishers for the canine retirement party, including Sidney’s official Town Crier Kenny Podmore.

Podmore, who also spends his time as concierge for the Sidney Pier Hotel, started his career there at the same time as Dave.

Podmore watched Dave grow from a rambunctious young pup into the hotel’s loyal greeter.

“It’s the perfect place for him,” said Podmore, as he fed Dave one of the dog-friendly carrot cupcakes.

“He’s been such a character for the hotel.”

Dave arrived at the Pier in 2008, says General Manager Natalie King.

“He was a guide dog in training with the seeing-eye dog program and flunked out,” she explained, noting Dave couldn’t overcome his penchant for people food.

“They couldn’t stop him from jumping up on counter tops,” King said.

At that time, a previous hotel general manager had been looking for a dog when the Pier was approached to see if Dave might be able to find a place there.

“He had a great disposition with people and other dogs,” King said.

So began Dave’s career as hotel greeter, companion for travellers who missed their own pets and as company for other dogs staying at the pet-friendly establishment.

Dave made the rounds, never short of a hand to scratch his ears or rub his belly. During his retirement celebration, he settled for a time beside Jim Crowley and the rest of the retired Java Gang.

Crowley and his cronies meet at the hotel twice a week for a coffee. The group toasted their mugs to Dave and his well-earned retirement, and even offered him a spot in their gang.

While he was working, Dave would put in a full day — or banker’s hours, King said. Recently, he’s had to cut back his hours at the Pier due to age (he turns nine in July) and increasing health issues. In the last eight months, his visits to the lobby have been infrequent.

Suffering with arthritis, Dave is now calling it a career and will stay at home, which he shares with a silver Lab named Stanley and their owner, Grant Rogers (who also owns the Pier Hotel).

“He’ll be hard to replace, as he is just amazing … so friendly and so gentle.”

King added when the hotel announced Dave’s retirement party, staff where overwhelmed by the response by so many people who know him.

“He’ll have a good life in retirement.”

— with files from Steven Heywood

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