Caring for four-legged companions


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This article was published 27/10/2021 (589 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Shawn, Nadeen and Celeste Bennett really love dogs and work to provide a safe environment for the dogs (and cats) left in their care.

The Bennetts own and operate Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, with locations at 596 St. Anne’s Rd. in St. Vital and 141 Samborski Dr. in Whyte Ridge. Shawn said plans are in place to open a third location next year in East Kildonan.

“I have been showing and breeding English setters since I was about age 10,” he said. He is a licensed Canadian Kennel Club dog judge and founder and publisher of Canadian Dog Fancier magazine.

Supplied photo
Nadeen, Shawn and Celeste Bennett own and operate two Happy Trails Pet Resort & Spa locations, in St. Vital and Whyte Ridge.
Supplied photo Nadeen, Shawn and Celeste Bennett own and operate two Happy Trails Pet Resort & Spa locations, in St. Vital and Whyte Ridge.

While he and wife Nadeen have operated their own businesses for years, they decided to follow their passion for dogs after discussion with their daughter, Celeste.

Celeste was studying animal sciences at U of M, but realized it wasn’t her dream after participating in a work placement. She began managing a pet-care facility and found that she enjoyed that part of the pet business. Shawn said the three agreed to open their own dog daycare and dog and cat boarding business. The St. Anne’s location opened in June 2016.

At 6,000 square feet, the building includes two large, open play areas, space for kennels and individual ‘condos’ for boarding as well as a grooming area and a fenced yard with artificial turf. Shawn said the building had to be slightly renovated before the business opened.

The 11,000-square-foot Samborski Drive location opened in August 2018 and was purpose-built using Shawn’s design.

Shawn said one of the most important aspects of Happy Tails is that dogs are separated by size when allowed to interact in a group.

“There’s always an attendant present for more than one dog,” he said.

Not all dogs make the cut for becoming a Happy Tails client.

“We have a zero aggression policy,” he added.

New prospects are assessed by staff during a free 90-minute session, and Shawn said about two of every 10 dogs are turned away.

The daycare is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pets being dropped off for grooming are allowed to stay until their owners finish their workdays.

Shawn said COVID-19 hasn’t affected the daycare over the long term but has seriously reduced the boarding part of the business because pet owners, like everyone else, haven’t been taking long vacations for the past year and a half.

The major challenge continues to be finding staff.

“It’s a difficult job,” Shawn said, adding that cleaning up after dogs and cats isn’t glamorous. The Bennetts try to offer employees good working conditions, compensation and the ability to advance.

He’s proud that Happy Tails is a sponsor of Maple Grove dog park sand said they also support other local canine charities.

“We are proud to be a family-owned and operated business and who live in the community.”

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at

Andrea Geary

Andrea Geary
St. Vital community correspondent

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.

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