Can we have a dog? I get this question from time to time. While the answer continues to be no (reasons I’ll save for another post), I want my kids to have a chance to nuture their love for animals, even if we don’t have a live-in pet.

I turned to Pawsitively Pets. The Toronto-based organization offers hands-on experience with animals through classes, camps and parties.

When I arrived at their Leaside location for one of their drop in programs, I was expecting cats and dogs. Although they do offer some classes focused on the two most popular pets in North America, we spent the morning meeting tons of other little friends – the furry, scaly and feathery kind.

It was a small group so we ended up with lots of one-on-one time. The experience is anything but a trip to the zoo. Rather, the super friendly and knowledgeable staff gave the kids and adults in TOw a chance to get up close to more than a dozen animals, teaching them about nature, animal conservation and how to care for the little creatures.

Our boys loved watching Elliot the bearded dragon, cuddling and attempting to feed Marshmellow the rabbit and letting Norris the chinchilla sit on their heads. There were also birds, hedgehogs, rats, snakes and the third most popular pet – the ferret.

Surprisingly, the kids didn’t ask to bring one home. I guess they are still holding out for a dog.


Getting there: There are two locations in Toronto – the main office on the second floor of Northlea United Church in Leaside, the other in High Park (open for summer camp). There are also locations in Markham and Ottawa.

Offerings: Pawsitively Pets is home to over 40 different animals – they try whenever possible to adopt shelter and rescue animals. Their Kids Camps – Summer Camp, March Break and Day Camps – and classes (also after school programs) are created for kids ranging from 5- to 15-years-old. They also do Birthday Parties at their location or they can travel to your home. (For on-site programs, be sure to bring inside shoes.)

Dogs: Junior Dog Training happens off-site in May or June and they offer dog-specific parties All About Dogs for kids 7-and-up.

Mark your calendars: The next Drop In events ($10 per child) is Saturday, March 7 (9am – 12 pm) and Tuesday, March 17 (10am to 12 pm),

Main office: 125 Brentcliffe Road, 2nd Floor, Toronto (Northlea United Church)
Tel: 416.901.4776