Rooftop dog runs cater to condo canines in Edmonton highrises

Running your dog out for a pee is taking on a whole new look in some Edmonton condo and apartment buildings.

Some city highrises are building amenities for residents with an affinity for animals

The Maclaren building in Oliver has added an off-leash dog area to the 27th floor outdoor amenities. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

Taking your dog out for a pee is taking on a whole new look in some Edmonton condo and apartment buildings.

Instead of taking the elevator down to the urban jungle, some condo dwellers are taking their pets to the 27th floor for a little relief.

In the past year, two new pet-friendly buildings boasting rooftop dog runs have opened in Edmonton.

On 124th Street, tucked into the historic Buena Vista Building in Oliver, is The MacLaren. The high-rise apartment building opened last year and is marketed as very pet-friendly.

"I did not have a dog when I moved in," said Katie Schneider, who moved into the building last December.

"It was a really good incentive to move in here to be somewhat ready for a dog at one point."

Sam the dog enjoys the treat dispenser at The MacLaren. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

Two-year-old Sam, a golden retriever, came into Schneider's life in April. They use the rooftop relief area often.

"It's been a dream being here," Schneider said. She said it's handy late at night and early in the morning to be able to use the rooftop area when her dog is feeling "antsy."

She likes her neighbours, too. "A lot of them at least have dogs or pets, and the interaction that she can get with dogs and just socialization, especially when we were all at home, was huge."

The West Block In Glenora built a dog run along its third-floor outdoor space. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

At the West Block in Glenora, beyond the cushy patio chaise and gas fireplace, is a fenced dog run. It runs the length of the rooftop and gives residents and their dogs a chance to socialize. 

"He's actually gotten younger since we moved in here," Cate Metz said about her 13-year-old dog, Grady. They moved into the building about a year ago.

"He'll race out of the elevator, he knows which way to go. He races out. Then you open the door and he races up. And he's just very happy," said Metz. "We can't be here if it's not a spot where our dog can be."

Cate Metz and dog Grady get a lot of use out of the rooftop dog run offered at West Block. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

Cantiro is the developer behind the design.

Angelica Leal, who was the assistant project manager on the West Block, said one of the questions the project developers asked when planning the project was, "What do Edmontonians want in their homes?"

The answer — a backyard.

"Part of it was the [ease] ... of just opening your door and letting your dog out," Leal said.

"That was the main reason why we ended up planning to have the dog run on the third floor."

Leal and her three dogs, Dante, Martin and Primo, were also some of the first residents to move in. Finding a building that not only accepts, but embraces three dogs is a challenge. 

"Oh, no, it's not easy," said Leal. "We have great neighbours and everybody loves the dogs."

The dogs wait patiently as concierge Evelyn Kasula dishes out some treats at the front desk of West Block. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

Like the MacLaren, the West Block has a full dog-wash station in the lobby — blow-dryer and all.

The dogs know they're welcomed, patiently wagging their tails at the concierge desk, waiting for a treat. 

Austin Joynes, vice president of marketing and training with Rhapsody Property Management Services, said pet-friendly buildings stand out because some landlords treat pets and their owners "almost as second-class renters."

Joynes said the feeling of community is heightened with dogs on the lease.  You may not know your neighbours' names — but chances are you know their pooch's.

"'That's Poppy's mom' or 'That's Rufus's dad' — it creates those kind of social connections that sometimes you miss living in a big city or living in a concrete highrise."

About the Author

Kory Siegers is a producer with CBC Edmonton who has spent two decades covering news in Edmonton and northern Alberta. You can reach her at kory.siegers@cbc.ca.