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LUXURY HOTELS: Fairmont's Canine Ambassadors 
THESE DAYS we seem to have butlers and ambassadors for everything; bath butlers, tartan concierges, Kids Ambassadors.  You name it, there is a hotel specialist devoted to the cause.
However few of them can claim to have been the subject of two children's books and almost as famous as the hotel they work in. However that is exactly the case with Catie Copley, who works at  The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston. But then Catie is an unusual kind of Ambassador, a canine Ambassador.
Yes, some staff who work at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts lead a dog's life. No really. Catie IS a dog.  A Black Labrador originally trained as a guide dog with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in New York, she changed 'careers' to become Canine Ambassador  in Fairmont's Boston hotel.  Her fame spread until Catie became the star of two children's books, the second of which includes her colleague Santol.
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Mavis at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Increasingly hotels are becoming pet friendly, allowing owners to bring Fido with them but Fairmont goes one further, selected Fairmont hotels have resident hotel dogs known as Canine Ambassadors.  Travellers missing their own pampered pooch or looking for a walking companion while taking a stroll can bond with the resident Fairmont dog for 'extra security and the comfort of home'.
In Canada guests can meet Mavis, a Lab/Retriever mix, and Beau, a Yellow Labrador, at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.  Both are former BC Guide Dog trainees that were better suited to the social life of a hotel ambassador.  The Fairmont Waterfront was the first hotel in the company to introduce a K9 Ambassador welcoming Morgan, a Black Labrador, in 2002.  He is now enjoying his dog days of retirement but he started a four-footed invasion.
The innovation has become a roaring (or should we say, barking) success. 
The newest member of Fairmont's Canine Ambassador team is Monte, a Golden Retriever at Fairmont Le Château Montebello in Quebec who was originally trained as a seeing-eye dog by the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind in Ottawa, (many of Fairmont's dogs have been trained this way which makes them especially sensitive to guest needs and very obedient). As well as walking guests and allowing his adoring hotel fans to pet him,  during quiet times the happy hound relaxes in his replica log château, specially designed for him by the hotel's engineering team.
The dogs all  join their two -legged colleagues as official members of the hotels' Guest Services Teams. I have had the pleasure of personally meeting Golden Labrador Retriever Marcus, known to his friends as Marc, the 'Director of Pet Relations' at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies and seeing his elaborate bed in the lobby.  I even threw a ball for him as Marc loves to hike and play fetch with guests.  Catie's famous sidekick Santol is found at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
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Marc at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
 
Visitors to Pittsburgh will encounter Edie, a white Boxer/Labrador Retriever at Fairmont Pittsburgh, named after Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol's 'superstar' Edie Sedgwick. Edie began her training in the assistant dog program at Circle Tail, Inc. in Pleasant Plain, Ohio.  After completing over a year of training, Edie's friendly and outgoing personality proved to be better suited to the hospitality industry where she gets to meet new people every day.
Zeus is a handsome Chocolate Labrador who is 'overseeing interactive guest appreciation' at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in California.  According to his CV "He keeps an eye on a multitude of lobby activities, co-leads guest hikes and assists in grounds supervision of the classic 226-room property".
Smudge, a Golden Labrador Retriever, recently moved to Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. Joining the pack in summer of 2009 was Jordy, a Black Labrador Retriever at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Quebec.  Jordy meets and greets guests, goes on scheduled walks and runs, and serves as a community liaison.
The doggie programme isn't restricted to North America. In Kenya, sisters Tusker and Grammy are a Labrador and Ridgeback mix and work at Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club.  They can be found around the Club taking walks together, jumping into ponds and chasing birds over 100 acres of picturesque landscape.
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Edie at Fairmont Pittsburgh
 
What I think is particularly inspired is that your relationship with the hotel pets doesn't have to  stop when you leave. In an inspired marketing move guests can stay in touch with their furry friends, by sending some "ani-mail" either by snail mail to the hotel or via email: edie.woof@fairmont.com, catie.copley@fairmont.com, mavisthedog@fairmont.com, beauthedog@fairmont.com, cmt.gracie@fairmont.com and lcf.santol@fairmont.com.   Guests who want to stay in touch with Catie, Santol and Smudge can keep up with them on their own individual Facebook pages as well.
 
Luxury Link: For a look at all of Fairmont's Canine Ambassadors, visit www.fairmont.com/promotions/canineambassadors.
Laurence D'Annon 20/3/14
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