A fresh start for Riverdale’s puppy school, Freshpuppy

Freshpuppy undergoes metamorphosis as Sydney Bleicher goes from dog expert to certified dog trainer

by Kaela Beaton

Do you remember going on a school field-trip as a child or exploring your favourite store for the first time? Field-trips for dogs are just as important too, whether it’s exploring the Toronto subway system or Holt Renfrew. Part-time server and full-time dog enthusiast, Sydney Bleicher, a certified dog trainer for her company, Freshpuppy, spends her days empowering new puppy owners to raise gentle and loving companions that can comfortably navigate through our city.

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     Sydney enjoying a brisk sunny day at the park with her new puppy

Sydney enjoying a brisk sunny day at the park with her new puppy

In the early 2000s Sydney founded Freshpuppy, a puppy training and education company. After years of experience working with young dogs and co-creating Ultimate Puppy, a toolkit focused on socialization and preventative-styled exercises to stop the development of poor behaviors, Sydney decided to take her passion for working with dogs to new heights. Today, Sydney works closely with Riverdale-based dog owners, many of whom she met from her time working at Lolita’s Lust restaurant which recently closed after 20 years.

“Sydney is so talented as a trainer and consultant! I always get excited when we have a shared client because I know they're getting the most fantastic information and support,” explained Caryn Charlie Liles when reviewing Freshpuppy’s services.

While Freshpuppy has been around for several years, it is currently undergoing a period of metamorphosis. In April, Sydney graduated from the Karen Pryor Academy and now proudly holds the title as a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner. Since her graduation, Sydney has revamped her Ultimate Puppy curriculum and adjusted her training methods to help people become more connected to their dogs. “I love educating people and watching the transformation happen; it’s awesome,” says Sydney.

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     Sydney’s client enjoying a game of ‘throw and catch’ with her

Sydney’s client enjoying a game of ‘throw and catch’ with her

At Freshpuppy, Sydney stresses the importance of early socialization. In private training sessions, Sydney exposes newborn and adolescent dogs to behave properly within the city of Toronto using a science-based approach. She focuses on socializing dogs between the ages of birth to 16 weeks, explaining that dogs are most vulnerable to adopting poor habits during this critical time.

“Dogs are not euthanized for illness but for preventable behavioral problems,” says Sydney. “The best thing people can do for their puppy is to find a good trainer.”

Today, you can find Sydney serving at one of Triple A Bar’s three Toronto locations, inspiring dogs and dog owners alike to become loving household pets or taking her puppy clients on field-trips through the Toronto subway system and even Holt Renfrew at Yonge and Bloor.


Freshpuppy
East Toronto
www.freshpuppy.ca
(416) 939-2853

True delicious Montreal-style bagels right around the corner

Article and pictures by Ana Fernandes

Bagel Time is run by the brothers Irfan, Adnan and Imran Khan, who praise the meticulous art of producing this slightly sweeter and chewier bagel.

Salmon Sandwich

Salmon Sandwich

Brothers who immigrated from Pakistan cooking a Jewish recipe they learned in Montreal, at the heart of Greektown in Toronto. It can’t get more Canadian than that. And all of this cultural richness provided the neighborhood with delicious authentic Montreal-style bagels served right at Danforth Avenue.

As soon as you step in the Bagel Time store, the smell wins you over. The bagels are, as stated by the tagline, “baked fresh everyday”, actually every couple of hours. You can see them coming out from the wood-fired oven, beautifully toasted and in all different flavours: plain, sesame, poppy seed, garlic, cinnamon and raisins. The images on the walls show tasty sandwiches, from the popular smoked salmon to the simple yet flavourful cream cheese.

“These are the best bagels ever. It’s kind of dangerous that it’s so close to home,” says Riverdale resident Kerry Milligan, already a regular to the store, who has come over five times to Bagel Time in the last month.

The owner, Irfan Khan, learned from the best, working for the traditional St-Viateur and Fairmount bagel shops in Montreal. He says it is important to use the best ingredients and to follow the recipe meticulously. The trick, however, is the oven and the rolling of the bagels.

“I don’t have gas in my oven. In Toronto, 90 per cent [of bakeries] have gas [ovens]. And the second thing is we roll by hand, nobody rolls by hand in this city, just in Montreal, and we are rolling by hand. Machine rolling and hand rolling makes a big difference.”

The customers certainly seem to appreciate Irfan and his brothers Adnan and Imran’s attention to detail. 

The store opened by the end of April and, during the first month, they sold over 40,000 bagels. And the business is still growing. Bagel Time is now selling for grocery stores and soon it will have a second location. Irfan says he’s already got a place at the city’s west-end, close to Bathurst Street, which he plans to open in two months.

“My two younger brothers and I, we know this business,” says Irfan. “We make them from our own hands, with our own labour. If I keep the recipe good and provide good service, we can run good business.”
After working a while with construction, Irfan came back to the bagels for their business potential and also for the emotional connection. He says they didn’t have bagels in Pakistan, but quickly took pride in producing this unique type of bread. It might not be a dish from their past, but it is one that they have embraced for their future in a diverse country and in an inclusive neighborhood.
 

 

 


Bagel Time
582 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1R1
www.bageltime.ca
(416) 546-0177

From Bay Street to Main Street: The man behind “kids at home”

 

“I took a huge risk,” Anthony Boulos tells me as he looks up from underneath his blue fitted cap. “That’s what life is. You should follow it sometimes and take some risks.” 

Morning light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Modern fixtures hang from high industrial ceilings. A statement clock made of clear peg lights reads 10:42. Lauren Hill and Bob Marley play softly in the background. As I look around me, it becomes overwhelmingly clear: I’m standing in the midst of a carefully crafted risk. 

Boulos, owner of the children’s store, “kids at home,” is a former Bay Street mogul.

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He chose to abandon a life of finance and purchased the name to the original children’s store located in the Beaches, in early 2015.

After some major rebranding, he chose to relocate the store to Leslieville, just on the outskirts of Riverdale. “Kids at home” has become a destination store for surrounding neighbourhoods and beyond

Boulos ventured into the mutual fund industry after earning his engineering degree from McGill University, working his way up from sales. In his last position on Bay Street, he worked as the National Inside Sales Director at AGF Investments while completing an MBA at Ivey Business School at Western University.

In 2014, following his graduation from Ivey, Boulos took off work for the first summer in 15 years. 

That December, Boulos had a pair of friends over to celebrate his wife’s birthday. While eating cake, the couple mentioned that they bought some things for a great price from “kids at home” during its closing sale. 

As a resident of the Beaches and a father of three (an almost-six-year-old and 18-month-old twins), Boulos was a frequent customer at the original “kids at home” store. When he heard the store was closing, he saw it as an opportunity

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He called the then-owner, Marg Gillespie, and met for a four-hour lunch. The rest, as they say, is history! 

When I first heard about Boulos’s move from Bay Street to Main Street, I imagined he would be an audacious and spontaneous fellow. But the Anthony Boulos that stands before me is both cool and calculated.

“I analyze everything. That’s my engineering background.”

Boulos explains that he purchased the store without inventory so that he could revamp the catalogue. From twin beds to teddy bears, Boulos handpicks every item to curate the best selection for each age group. He prefers products that are environmentally friendly and 80 per cent of the items in the store are Canadian-made.

Before making products available in the store, Boulos tests them to make sure that their quality upholds.

The store boasts a fast product turnover because of Boulos’s preference of quality over quantity. Fewer products also make for a clutter-free store, which Boulos suspects is why his clientele consists of an even number of males and females. Men often praise him on how much tidier “kids at home” is than typical children's stores, making their shopping experience much easier.

It’s no wonder that Boulos’s customers have pleaded with him to open stores in Paris, Dubai and other international locations. 

“It’s fun to hear that,” he laughs. “I’m not opposed to opening new locations, but we’re going to go at our own pace.”

“In this great future, you can’t forget your past.” Bob Marley’s gritty voice echoes faintly throughout the store. 

I ask Boulos how he looks back on his decision to leave Bay Street for entrepreneurship. He pauses and leans back in his chair. 

“I’ve never looked back,” he assures me with confidence. “I don’t regret anything about it.”

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kids at home
181 Carlaw Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 2S1
www.kidsathome.com
(647) 352-5437