This GTA-Animal Shelter Looks a Lot Like Versailles

“We wanted to showcase rescue dogs the way they should be.”

You know how once you see Versailles, every other palace pales in comparison? Or how strolling around Saint Peter’s Basilica dulls the opulence of every other church you step inside? Yeah, well, that’s kind of what Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary does for animal shelters.

Drive 45 minutes north of Toronto to King City and you’ll find this 20-hectare property of perfectly manicured paradise. At the entrance, a horse-adorned tiered fountain and statues of canines sculpted out of stone greet guests. Follow the barking and you’ll soon stumble upon the real thing. Dog Tales is the permanent residence of 76 horses, six pigs, two cows, three sheep, six ducks, more than 10 chickens and a handful of bunnies, and a 929-square-metre kennel serves as the compound’s centrepiece.

Inside, the sanctuary’s ever changing cast of adoptable dogs lounge on plush doggy daybeds. In each of the 83 glass enclosures, well-groomed pooches are treated to chandeliers, ornate mirrors, framed artwork and polished serving dishes. The furnishings are far fancier than those in my home—and probably yours, too. Dog Tales’s attention to detail and decor carries through to the property’s pavilion, a Soho House-esque space where visitors and staff can enjoy a cappuccino, a cocktail or a slice of vegan pizza from the outdoor pizza oven. There are also hanging wicker chairs, vases filled with fresh pink roses and a bathroom with Beverly Hills Hotel-inspired banana-leaf wallpaper.

Besides uploading photos to Instagram, visitors often ask “Why the extravagance?” It’s the first question I pose when I meet founders Danielle Eden-Scheinberg and Rob Scheinberg. The husband-and-wife team explains that when they opened the sanctuary in 2014, they set out to create a shelter that put their animals on display like a boutique breeder or high-end pet shop. “We wanted to showcase rescue dogs the way they should be,” explains Eden-Scheinberg. “These are regular dogs, and there’s nothing wrong with them.” This part of the Dog Tales ethos is particularly important, as the shelter has chosen to champion hounds that have a harder go at being adopted. “We take a lot of older, blind or three-legged—two-legged, even—dogs, as well as large breeds,” she says when I naively ask why I don’t see any puppies on the property. “These are the dogs that usually won’t get adopted in other shelters. We won’t give up on them until we find them a home. And even if they don’t, they’ll have a good life with us.” Life at Dog Tales is a good life indeed.

Watch our behind-the-scenes video for a peek inside: