Would-be guide dog triumphs as greeter at Victoria's Empress Hotel

Winston, who was rejected as a guide dog for the blind because "he was too friendly", is excelling as a greeter at the Empress Hotel.

'His main fault was he was too friendly'

Winston, 2, greets guests in the lobby of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. (Mike Mcarthur/CBC)

A guide dog that was rejected for being too friendly has found the perfect place to share his sociable nature: the lobby of Victoria's famed Empress Hotel.

Tracey Drake, director of public relations at the Fairmont Empress, said Winston, a two-year-old Labrador golden retriever cross has been the perfect addition.

"It's a completely new hotel lobby since he's been here," Drake said. "He's just a sweet boy."

Winston was part of the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, but failed to complete his training.

"His main fault was he was too friendly," she said. "So it didn't work out being a guide dog for the blind, but it certainly works out for us."

Winston has had some training so he knows how to be calm when people enter the hotel, says the hotel's public relations director Tracey Drake. (Mike Mcarthur/CBC)

And some of the lessons learned have come in helpful when dealing with the hotel's many visitors.

Winston's training means he stays calm "when people enter the hotel or if people are coming in with pets because we're a pet-friendly hotel," Drake said. 

"He loves other dogs but he also approaches them very cautiously and wants to play."

Registered guests can also take Winston out for walks.

Drake says the hotel is also prepared for instances where guests who aren't comfortable with dogs or have allergies arrive. 

She says having Winston in the hotel is a way of alleviating the general stress of travelling and gives people who are far away from home a source of comfort.

"Travel is not as luxurious as it used to be. Airports are scary places. Airplanes are very crowded. Travel can be really tedious and really stressful," Drake said. 

"Winston is really able to take that stress away ... He's very good at that."

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With files from All Points West and CHEK