Justine & Steve

Dog walking with Good Vibes & rocking furiously with Monster Truck

By the Get Leashed Doggy Style team

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Since Queen West, in Toronto, was voted the 2nd coolest neighborhood in the world by Vogue, the talk of the town immediately turned to asking: which hood’s next? The city is bursting with cool, but housing prices are through the roof and transit is a nightmare. Where does the cool go when a city can’t hold it all in anymore? Believe it or not, the old industrial city of Hamilton might just be the answer. The arts and music scene is booming and a lot of the hip, urban professionals–especially those who work in the arts–are opting to leave behind the overpriced streets of Toronto to settle in “The Hammer. “

If you need proof that cool people live here, look no further than Justine and Steve. Justine has a dog training business called Good Vibes (great name), which caters to people in the music and arts scene who are taken away from their four-legged besties for longer than they’d like. If you’re into the Canadian music world, you’ll have heard of Steve’s band, Monster Truck–a hard rock combo that won a Juno just a short year ago for Best Breakthrough Group. We like to think that putting Moody—Justine and Steve’s dog—on the band’s t-shirt merch had a lot to do with it.

These two have made a great life for themselves and their dogs in Hamilton and are an inspiration for anyone who wants to be close to the buzz of a big city but who enjoy the low-key peace that getting out of it can bring. Is Hamilton to Toronto what Brooklyn is to Manhattan? Time will tell. In the meantime, get to know this super cool couple and their lovable mutts.

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Tell us about yourself:

Justine: I am the owner of Good Vibes, a dog walking and training business in Hamilton. I offer off-leash hikes and one-on-one obedience training. I love to watch dogs run and play while still maintaining a level of control. I have a lot of fun taking pictures of them for my clients to see. But I am most rewarded when I can help others develop a better relationship with their own dog.

Every day is different. Some mornings start with a session, others end with one. Some days I am only walking dogs. Moody usually joins me on at least one walk every day and because I often drive right by my house I can usually see Scoop perched up on the window, watching the world go by.

Steve: I am a professional musician. I play in a rock and roll band that records albums and tours all over the world playing concerts. I love the fact that I get to travel so many places and meet so many people, while doing something I love.

My life consists of several “routines” depending on what I’m doing at that specific time of year. The touring routine is quite different from the recording routine, which is quite different from the routine I get into when I have periods of time off at home with my family and friends. I guess the routine that I’m most used to is actually not having much of a routine at all! One thing’s for sure, when I’m home I like to spend time hiking in the wilderness, or just hanging out, with Justine, Moody and Scoop.

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A bit about your pets:

Justine: Moody-Blue is our Black Lab/Schnauzer mix. I adopted him when I moved home from B.C. He is the weirdest dog I know and the reason why Steve is now a crazy dog man. He has attended two Monster Truck shows–although he’d probably enjoy a truck rally too.

Scoop is our new Chihuahua. We adopted him in December from a rescue. Steve really wanted a Chihuahua. I never in a million years thought I would own one, but Scoop is the best–unless he’s being the worst.  I’ll probably always own Chihuahuas because of him.

Steve: Moody is literally one of my best friends. He’s so calm and loving, and is just all around an easy dog to have in our lives. He makes us both better, more loving people.

When we first got Scoop, he was so scared of everything. He was a big challenge, and I think we wanted to get him because we wanted to change the life of a dog that didn’t have a normal, socialized upbringing. He keeps getting better every day and it makes Justine and I overflow with joy seeing him having so much fun, and learning slowly how much better and different his new life is with us.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

Justine: We always start with a hike with the dogs. There are so many trails in and around Hamilton to walk your dogs. We love to grab a coffee from Homegrown Hamilton on King William; best coffee in the city. In the evening we may head out to This Ain’t Hollywood to catch a show or over to Mulberry Café for a glass of wine.

Steve: Grabbing a coffee, getting in the car and driving to a provincial park or conservation area with Justine and the boys for an off-leash hike. We’d end the day with a pint and some snacks on a patio nearby with the guys resting contently at our feet.

Describe your personal style:

Justine: Easy and comfortable.

Steve: I don’t really have much of a style. I’m into feeling comfortable and not worrying too much about what others think.

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What inspires you?

Justine: Nature inspires me. Animals inspire me. People being nice to one another inspire me. Sometimes I think wine inspires me…

Steve: Happiness inspires me. When I see people doing what they want to be doing, surrounded by people (and dogs) that make them happy and not sweating the small stuff, I get inspired by that. That’s all I really want in life!

How would you describe the look and feel of your home?

Justine: Easy and comfortable. I like to buy old chairs from thrift shops that my Grandmother claims have cockroaches and that Moody, among other dogs, can destroy. We also love plants.

Steve: Comfort. We don’t worry too much about current design trends or expensive furniture or decorating. I want our home to be a place where people can relax and not be scared to put their feet up on the coffee table, or bring their dogs over with them and not worry about “messing the place up.”

A story about your pets:

Justine: I’d have to say the change in Moody once Steve and I moved in together. Moody has always been weird because of me, but he used to be a lot rowdier; which we attributed to my former roommate. Now Moody is just a gentle, kind soul. He’s still a total weirdo but so very kind. Just like Steve.

Steve: Moody has an amazing ability to tell when someone is upset, and he instantly will try to comfort you. A couple of years ago, Justine went away to Columbia to travel for a couple of months and I missed her like crazy. When Moody saw this, he would come over and console/cuddle with me. He’s just such a nice guy, I couldn’t imagine being without him!