Here's how Bengalurean pet-lovers are changing how canine owners holiday
Ever left your pet dog locked up in a kennel when you left for a trip only to find the poor thing shrunk to half and with an unbearable stench when you came back? Well, almost every pet owner would have a similar tale of kennel torture to tell, wherein the pets are underfed, kept in unhygienic conditions and are tied to a leash all day long.
But now considering how fast services like pet boarding, day care and pet vacation homes, which focus on open space boarding, are picking up, pet owners can leave their pets behind in the knowledge that they will be safe while going for an outing.
Five star hotel for you, 3ft x 3ft enclosure for your pet?
“When you are having a happy holiday elsewhere, you need to make sure your pets are also equally comfortable. Cutting down on money and keeping them in a place where they can’t even stretch is cruel and it psychologically affects a pet. Eighty percent of my customers are repeat customers,” says Hema Deepak, who has been running Petspace in Doddakanehalli on Sarjapur road in Bengaluru for the last five years, after she left her job at an IT company.
Petspace is built on a 1200 sq. ft open land covered with metal grills on four sides, where pets can walk around and play with each other. They also have 15 large enclosures on one end, where the pets sleep in the night.
It is not just a pet boarding, it is also a place where your pet learns from other pets too. More like how a child adjusts to a social environment, says Hema.
While Hema’s idea of Petspace is a large enclosed area with supervisors, 26-year-old Jessica Jerusha runs her vacation home at her house in Begur road. Both of them charge between Rs 350 to Rs 500 per day per dog.
Asked about how the pet boarding culture is picking up, Jerusha, who has been running Jeru’s pet vacation home for the last 8 years, said, “I have about 1000 to 1500 regular customers, all of whom came looking for a homely atmosphere for their pets. We keep all kinds of pets, from dogs to birds and snakes to hamsters. The pets stay with us at our house that is as big as 5000 sq. ft, inclusive of a play area and a terrace. We can easily fit 50 of them at any given point.”
Self-schooling by socialising
Both Hema and Jerusha compare pet boardings to schools where students learn from each other and know how to react to new people. “Usually for three-four hours, new boarders feel low and try to seclude themselves, some skip a meal, but once they choose their company, fun starts from there. In fact many pet owners have agreed that their dogs seem healthier when they left boarding,” said Jerusha.
Like baby-sitters, pet-sitters services are also picking up
Twenty-four-year-old Sathyen, who is a graphic designer working from home, pet-sits his neighbours’ and friend’s pets when they are at work. He said,” I have been doing this for the last 2 years. I have not advertised online or on social media. Since my place is small, I can have 3 dogs at any given time. I earn easily about Rs.10,000 every month. The food is provided by the owners because each dog has its preference.”
An avenue to abandon pets
Any vacation home in the city would tell you how risky the business is. Sathyen, Hema and Jerusha have come across people who abandon their dogs at the boarding homes. “Over time we pick up skills to recognise a true pet lover. I have received calls asking whether their pets can be ‘dumped’ at our place. And these are well-educated and well-to-do people,” said Hema.