Get Leashed Goes Unleashed With The Canine Adventure Co. Founder & Her Pack
By The Get Leashed Doggy Style Team
For entrepreneur Kate Ferguson, owning four dogs isn’t work, they ‘light up every moment’ of her life. As the owner of Toronto’s Unleashed In The City Canine Adventure Co, she has over 14 years experience in the pet care industry and has blended her love of the outdoors to create unique services and experiences for dogs. Get Leashed caught up with Kate to discuss all things Summer Camp, the famous Unleashed Tuck Shop, and what’s next for this lifestyle brand. Read below as we get to know Kate and her pack.
Please tell us about yourself, your profession, and what a typical work day is like.
I am the owner and president of Unleashed in the City and have been working in the pet care industry for 14 years. In my early 20s, I wanted to try it out, as I loved the outdoors and also worked as a messenger. The pet care industry was new and I saw an opportunity, and really wanted every dog to have the ultimate experience. A sleepy dog is a happy dog (and makes a happy owner!) so I thought why not take the dogs to the beach or through the forest where they can run, swim, and soar.
My ultimate day would be out at the cottage, so I wanted to bring that forest and adventure experience to dogs in the city. Every dog has different needs, so we have different services and options. We have been able to grow the number of services and styles we offer, expand our Tuck Shop (retail component) where we stock the best treats, toys, and accessories, and recently, launch our apparel brand, Unleashed Outfitters. We have been in our Ossington location for five years now.
My role has evolved, and I’m involved in a lot. I’m lucky to have such a great team to make this possible. Beyond Unleashed I am on the Board of Directors at Save Our Scruff, and Vice-Chair of the Ossington BIA. We recently had the first annual OSSFEST + The Ossington Crit, bringing crit bike racing back to the streets of Toronto. I am a huge bike person (my partner Chris and I own 10 bikes between us) so this was very exciting to be part of.
On a typical day, I will wake up, have an espresso, and go for a bike ride or workout at The Academy of Lions. Then I will check in with the field teams to oversee the Packs for the day, touch in with my office team to check on what’s happening with the projects we’re working on, and midday I will have new client meetings. Later in the day, I may have a meeting with the BIA or the Board of Save Our Scruff.
I’m very much into community events and involvement. In June, Unleashed hosted our annual Pup Pride Parade (featured on Buzzfeed). We also host an annual Howl-o-Ween Pup Parade and many Save Our Scruff adoption events in our space on Ossington.
As my dogs are getting older, I always make time to walk them every day to ensure I’m getting that quality time in, and cherish those moments dearly.
Please tell us a bit about your dogs. How did they come into your life? Is there a story behind the names or particular breeds?
I got Bean 14 years ago and I never thought I would have a small dog. I had always liked the look of Boston Terriers, and she’s a Boston-Frenchie mix. I wanted to give her a big name, but when I saw her, she was just a little Bean!
Sprout is actually Bean’s son. He’s a little ninja and very smart and agile. He had cancer a few years ago and had to have his leg amputated. He still hops fences at full speed and he adjusted very well.
When I was in the field one day walking dogs, I spotted Jack. He was a foster and I had to have him. He is a Boston Terrier-Pug mix, so from there we started calling the dogs The Brindle Posse.
We weren’t supposed to keep Margo, but she fit right into the #thebrindleposse. She’s an apricot Standard Poodle and used to be an Unleashed client. Her owners could no longer keep her and where I was already familiar with her sweet nature, she came to live with us.
Inside the Unleashed storefront you can see a large art piece of my Mastiff, Yogurt, who passed away. Because I know how hard it is to go through, it’s important to me to support organizations that help people and dogs dealing with canine cancer. Proceeds from Unleashed Outfitters sales will be going towards Canine Rescue and Canine Cancer Research.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is utilitarian. My uniform consists of black or blue jeans, an Unleashed Outfitters tee or a plain white tee, with a baseball hat or toque, sneakers (Adidas or Vans) or Birkenstocks, depending on the season.
My personal style is really reflected in our new Unleashed Outfitters brand: lived-in tees, cozy hoodies, and baseball hats with Unleashed patches. We’ve just done a soft launch but will have more items and an online shop, coming soon!
How would you describe the look and feel of your home?
I would say a mix of contemporary and rustic. I like clean lines and monochromatic, mixing old and new. I like quirky things, but they have to be functional; the dogs go everywhere so nothing is too precious! I go for a Scandinavian feel, but with punches of Canadiana elements.
What does your ideal weekend look like?
On Fridays I love to hit the Velodrome to ride and relax. On Saturday, I’ll go to Union for brunch and then bring the dogs to Trinity Bellwoods Park. I love to support local businesses in the community so in the evening I’ll have dinner at another restaurant on Ossington. I also love to grab a good book with the pack on the rooftop when I can!
What inspires you?
I’m a visual person and a people watcher! I love design and photography, the outdoors, and of course dogs. I also take inspiration from my friends and interesting people who I meet out in the community.
Finally, can you leave us with a funny story about your dogs?
The dogs have me constantly smiling and laughing. One funny story about Sprout would be a time when we maybe underestimated him. After making a batch of chili, there was a pot on the counter with some fat still on the sides. When Chris and I discovered the pot was clean, we each thought the other had washed it until we discovered one suspect paw print. Even with three legs, Sprout is part Beagle and supper motivated by food. He had managed to jump up and lick the pot clean! He can be a ninja and an escape artist.
There are still spots for summer camp available! Visit unleashedinthecity.com for more information.