Edmonton’s Hotel Macdonald has taken an unusual step to help stressed-out travelers feel at home —a "canine ambassador’" who welcomes guests with a wag of her tail.
Smudge the yellow Labrador Retriever "works" from Monday to Friday.
Her duties include offering a friendly greeting to anyone who passes through the doors of the elegant Fairmont hotel and accompanying guests on runs in the nearby river valley.
"She's a very calm animal," said her owner, general manager Garrett Turta.
"When people have had a stressful day and they come in and see her sleeping in her bed, it just gives them that nice sense of place … where they kind of drop their shoulders and go, ‘Ah, I feel like I'm at home.’"
Guests agree that Smudge is a welcome addition to the hotel.
"I think it's a marvelous idea for anyone who’s had a dog or is a dog lover," said David Redman. "She certainly is a really, really friendly pooch and she just makes you feel like you are kind of at home."
Turta got Smudge in 2009 when he was working at the Fairmont Algonquin in New Brunswick. The former guide dog followed him to Scotland, where he worked at the Fairmont St. Andrew’s.
"In my previous hotel, Smudge was the number one comment-card getter," he said. "She was the most popular employee by any means from anyone coming into the hotel."
Smudge even has her own Facebook page, which is followed by more than 500 people.