Let your dog have a holiday too!

A concern for most people when deciding to get a dog is what they will do when they travel. Bengaluru-based Waggle has addressed this issue by finding dog lovers to look after your dog in their homes. It’s a win-win situation – dogs and their pet parents get a holiday and the hosts get to enjoy having dogs!

Samira Abraham and Arjun Mathai

Samira Abraham and Arjun Mathai

Having a dog is one of the best experiences ever. What all rewarding to a dog is his loyalty,intelligence, devotion and affection. There’s nothing better than coming back home and being greeted by a happily wagging tail and wet sloppy licks.
Waggle is an online platform where pet parents can find safe and loving homes to leave their dogs, while they are away. Dogs get individual attention, care and an environment just like their home. Pet parents can travel in peace and their dog gets a barking holiday too!
The brains…
Waggle was launched in February 2013 by Arjun Mathai and Samira Abraham. “When we had to travel in October 2012, we had no option, but to leave our dog Zoe, our Golden Retriever, with one of the boarding facilities in the city. We never liked the idea of a kennel as Zoe was not used to being caged. The idea for Waggle came about as we wanted to find a better home for Zoe when we travelled,” says Samira, co-founder of Waggle.
The workflow…
Waggle provides a platform for dog lovers to sign up as hosts and enjoy the company of ‘Man’s Best Friend’ while their pet parents travel. Hosts are verified by Waggle to ensure that they are competent to take care of dogs and have had prior experience in taking care of dogs.
Pet parents, who are travelling, can search on Waggle to find their perfect host. They can send requests to hosts mentioning all the details about their dogs, travel dates, etc. Customers and hosts can message each other through Waggle if they have any clarifications or queries. The hosts have the convenience of accepting or declining a request based on their availability. If required, a meeting is scheduled prior to the actual hosting to ensure that both dogs and hosts are comfortable with each other. Once the host accepts a request, the customer can confirm the request and pay online.

The experience…

Varun and Simba

Varun and Simba

“The experience has been good…,” tells Varun Vikramann, “Finding a caretaker who will love and care for your pet as much as you is way too much to ask, but here on Waggle you find many more of the kinds ‘Someone like you’. Boarding my Simba on a short notice, Waggle was very handy by being responsive and finding me a host in less than 30 minutes. Apart from the lovely hosts, Simba had two of his kind as well to play,” he adds. Similar views were shared by Surabhi Ganguly, “I have used the service a couple of times. I love the idea that

Surabhi and Sultan

Surabhi and Sultan

I can travel worry-free, with the reassurance that my dog is individually being taken care of by dog lovers in a home, with the same comfort and conveniences that I try to provide him.” While, Vidhu Agarwal says she is overwhelmed by this god-sent concept as well as the wonderful people associated with it.

Sujal Kamath

Sujal Kamath

This way, Waggle also enables dog lovers who can’t keep a dog full time to enjoy the company of dogs for a few days while their pet parents travel. Says Sujal Kamath, a dog lover to the core, “Waggle is a true paradise for dog lovers…giving opportunities to host different breeds of dogs without the actual responsibilities of owning one. Over the past few months we have hosted three different breeds of dogs, each with their unique personality.”

Rona and Ginger

Rona and Ginger

Sometimes, the host’s dogs also love the company of other dogs. “When I learnt about Waggle, I was so excited about the concept that I signed on to be a host right away. Hosting has been a wonderful and enjoyable experience and I love that my dog Ginger gets to have his doggy friends over,” adds Rona Pinto.

Safety measures…
Waggle also has a Customer Support Helpdesk which helps customers find a host who will be the best fit for their dog. “Waggle provides 24×7 support to all our hosts, in order to provide a hassle free hosting experience to our hosts. Our team of trained dog experts guides them through any issues during a hosting,” says Samira as a matter of fact.
“While, our review system allows customer and hosts to rate and review the host and the visiting dog respectively. This benefits other customers in making a decision quickly,” she adds.
Future plans…
“Currently in Bengaluru, we are working on providing this service all through India at the earliest. We have had enquiries coming in the past from various cities. We are in the process of recruiting and verifying hosts in other cities. Our primary concern is to ensure that in every city we are present in, we have sufficient knowledgeable and dog crazy hosts to address the growing number of requests,” concludes Samira.
For more info, call the 24×7 customer support team at +919686677364 or log on to: www.waggle.in

Love thy pet, Love thy profession!

Converting your passion into your profession is a dream for all…but a reality for a lucky few. Pet love has driven many enthusiasts to venture into diverse fields – medicine, writing, grooming, training, gourmet, photography, pet walkers, pet resorts, et al. Here are three experts in their own fields – all working for the love of the pets. Excerpts.

Eshita Prasanna – Pet photographer by passion

Eshita

Eshita

Profession: Tailshots – captures your pet in a candid shoot.
Traits: From childhood, she has always been an avid pet lover and has wanted it to be an active part of her life. Her fascination with photography which began as a hobby just after she finished school went on to become her choice in post graduation.
Professional qualification:  Post graduate in photography from Light & Life Academy, Tamil Nadu.
Pet pooch: Though Eshita does not have pet of her own, she plans to have one soon.
Inspiration: Eshita loves animals and that’s the biggest reason she’s into pet photography. Eshita says: “I love their expression on camera, it’s so pure and so full of just love … every four legged is photogenic! It is so amazing to capture those candid moments of the furry
little ones.”
The offerings: Capturing candid moments and bringing out the true identities of pets to form timeless images that deserve to be
framed eternally!
Chandrashekhar Chawan – Optometrist & ocularist

Chandrashekar

Chandrashekar

Profession: Director, Shekhar Eye Research – offering prosthetic eyes.
Traits: While doing custom-made artificial eyes for humans, he got many opportunities to make artificial eyes for horse, dogs and cats while in the USA.
Professional qualification: Optometrist & ocularist practicing in Orlando, USA, before founding Shekhar Eye Research at
Mumbai in 2003.
Pet pooch: A Pug for his daughter Shreeya.
Inspiration: In the process of being a responsible pet parent, he got introduced to many veterinary doctors in India, who in turn, started referring cats and dogs to the center for prosthetic eyes.
The offerings: Custom-made artificial eyes in Medical Grade PMMA and Medical Grade Silicon and specialty contact lenses for humans, horses, dogs and cats.

Ishmeet Chandiok

Ishmeet

Ishmeet

Runs Harley’s Corner – offering cooked
pet food.
Traits: Chef Ishmeet always had a passion for food and cooking. Even as a child he would experiment by mixing different kinds of foods with the resultant concoction turning into sumptuous meal.
Professional qualifications: Being alumni of the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai and working with brands like Hyatt, JW Marriott and Kingfisher, he brings over 12 years of food-related experience along with him.
Pet pooch: Harley was only two months old when Ishmeet and his wife adopted the stray from a construction site near Andheri.
Inspiration: Months of research and talking to distributors and various pet parents made him start Harley’s Corner.
The offerings: Harley’s Corner, which started as a home experiment, has today transformed into a business which has a whole gourmet menu which is not only different, but also healthy and nutritious. His menu today ranges from a variety of special to mighty meals to birthday cakes and dietary meals to suit various needs.

Doggies check in…

Pet parents often feel guilty when they cannot take their pet along for a vacation. The constant worries for the well-being of their pets make a dent on their minds all the time. Luckily, pet boarding facilities have come up in major cities to solve this problem. Here, you don’t just leave your pets in caring hands…they too enjoy their vacation…amongst other furry friends… a home away from their home.

Summers are here and so are the summer breaks…kids wait for this time to go for a vacation with their parents… Check out pet boarding facilities in your city.

These places have helped many pet parents to ensure their pets are taken care of while they are away. Besides, it helps them to learn the important lessons of socialisation.

Here are the details of a cross-section of pet resorts in different parts of India:

Peppy Paws Pet Resort, Pune

“When I thought of setting up a pet resort, I only had my passion to support me. Nevertheless, I started pet-sitting from my tiny one-bedroom apartment to earn some money. In no time, I received a good response for my service and I had to move into a big bungalow where I could house more pets. At one point I was boarding 15 pets at a time,” shares Priya Poduval of Peppy Paws Pet Resort. “By 2010, I had saved up a good sum of money to begin my venture. I took up a loan to construct a resort on a 4000 sq ft barren land in Mundhwa which was leased by my uncle. Today, Peppy Paws Pet Resort is a place in Pune where you can hang out with your pets,” she adds.

The environment is fun and lively, where at any given point of time, one can find around 30 different pets staying and playing together. “Pets enjoy with their furry friends and get to socialise. The best place is the pool where my furry babies enjoy the most. It is quite big and about five feet deep where pet parents can also swim with their pets. We even celebrate birthdays where we have pool parties for the pets. While constructing the resort we made sure the pets have maximum open space to run and play,” shares Priya.

Not just a kennel… “We have not constructed many kennels as we do not follow the traditional approach of kennelling the dogs and just taking them out for walks. The pets at Peppy Paws Pet Resort are given a chance to socialise and live in packs as they are pack animals. And the pack leader is my Lab – Tyson – because of whom it all began.

Services offered… Peppy Paws Pet Resort’s services include boarding and daycare with home pick and drop facility for Pune and Mumbai pets. They also have pet friendly suites to cater to the needs of different pets. Besides, they also provide Skype facility with which pet parents can check on their pets while they are away. “We provide pet grooming services for pooches and cats at our Pet Spa at our camp branch in Pune. Our grooming services include complete grooming, pet hygiene, nail clipping, hair trimming and de-matting, massage, tick and flea bath and much more,” adds Priya.

All pet parents availing these facilities need to provide health certificate from their pet’s vet, tick and flea treatment prior to boarding and up-to-date deworming. They also do a trial session for the first time boarders. “Depending on whether the pets are friendly with us and other pet dogs, we decide to leave them in the pack or keep them separate. Besides, we also conduct various pet events like pet fashion show and dog care workshop. We also counsel and help pet parents to solve any pet related or behavioural issue,” adds Priya.

Food & treats… “At the time of trial, we ask the pet parents about their pet’s routine and food habits. And we normally follow the same. Otherwise, we generally give fresh and healthy homemade food to our own furry kids as well as our boarders who opt for the same. It includes boneless chicken, seasonal veggies and oils with rice/or broken wheat. We also introduce boiled eggs and curd once a week,” shares Priya.

Medical facilities… “We have a vet on board. We also have a vet coming to the resort weekly for routine checkups. Also at the time of emergencies, we take them to their vet since he would know the pet’s history. Else, our vet is just a call away,” tells Priya.

Message to pet parents… Love and pamper your pet but at the same time discipline, socialise and train them according to your schedule so that you have a healthy happy companion throughout your life.

For more info, call at: 08805989128, 08805989129 or visit: www.thepeppypaws.com

PETS 101, Chennai

It is a complete one-stop solution for all pet needs, right from pet stores to dog training to, of course, boarding facilities. The area is 5000 sq ft built up area which is completely air-conditioned; 3000 sq ft open area (compounded) and 30 sq ft kennel space for each dog. They also offer 24×7 CCTV coverage and Skype facility for pet parents to see their dogs when they are away. At any point of time, they can board 25 pooches.

“Pooches here can enjoy indoor and outdoor plays, in-house toys, daily grooming, baths, to name a few. We are also adding aroma therapy massage for the dogs very soon,” tells Arunodaya Reddy, Founder & CEO, PETS 101. “In fact, we built this facility where we would love to board our own dogs and enjoy our vacation with peace of mind,” he adds.

Services offered… “I source products personally and make sure all the products are of the best quality/brand and sourced from the right source,” shares Arunodaya.

Coming to the dog training, he shares that every dog needs basic obedience training. “We use reward-based training methods to train the dog. I have been working very closely with all dog welfare groups in Chennai and we rescue lot of abandoned dogs. One of the reasons of abandonment is dog behaviour. Most of the dogs who have not gone through basic obedience training tend to have some behaviour issues. Pet parents do not understand the fact that it can be corrected. We counsel such pet parent and help them to correct the dog,” he tells wisely.

For dog grooming, they have signed up with Cho Chweet as their official grooming partner. “They have lot of expertise in the area and they run four stores across Chennai,” he shares.

Food & treats… “We rely only on dog food (dry/wet). We do not entertain cooked food. It is practically not possible to keep up the quality standards,” shares Arunodaya.

Medical facilities… There is a doctor on call and consultant doctor while our employees are trained in basic first aid. “Our premises are completely hygienic…our consultant doctor frequently visits the facility to check the hygiene of the place,” adds Arunodaya.

Rates per day… The small and medium sized pooches can be boarded at Rs 500, large at Rs 600, giant breeds at Rs 700 per day. Check-in and check-out time is strictly between 10 am and 5 pm.

What next… “Our goal is to provide best quality services for all pets and pet parents. As a part of this, we are set to open five more stores across Chennai in a year. We have brought in a new concept called Pet Management – a complete solution for pet care,” tells Arunodaya.

Message to pet parents… Please be responsible towards your pets. Try to understand their needs. Don’t just shop in a store or see a vet only because they are in your neighbourhood. Read about the quality of the products you buy, ask questions, analyse the brand, make sure you are buying the best.

For more info, call Shravan Krishnan, Partner & Operations Head at: 09176878969 or visit: http://www.facebook.com/pets101india

PetStepin’, Bengaluru

“From boarding and daycare… playdates and socialising sessions…to pet parties and spa grooming, we pamper these pooches like our own!! We also help in organising events like the Pet-a-thon, health awareness camps and various pet education camps for kids,” tells Dr Nezhat Belgamvala of PetStepin’.

“At PetStepin’, we entertain all species to stay with us; although we primarily have dogs and cats boarding with us, we have also had quite a few birds, squirrels, rabbits, hamsters, guinea-pigs as our guests so far. Thus we work out our spacing depending on the type of animals boarding with us at a time. At peak season, we have boarded 30-35 pets at a time,” she shares.

When designing PetStepin’ all aspects of safety were taken into consideration – from a double-gated entrance to prevent dogs from running out…to ‘time out pens’, where the dog is separated for sometime when he gets into other’s business or if he starts acting aggressive.

Services offered… “As our guests for boarding, pets get to socialise, interact and play with different breeds and sizes throughout the day, instead of being crammed or chained up. They get to choose their best pals, make mischief to their hearts-fill, pick their favourite spots and bask in the sun for hours together, share a snack in the open grounds (under vigil of course) and get pampered to bits by every member of our team comprising Sai and Aparna. If this was not enough, they get free belly-rubs, truckloads of bear hugs, a nice brush down after a muddy ordeal and plenty of space to be themselves! Clean, warm blankets/bed sheets for them to cuddle into at nights, is our highest priority! Finally, we make sure each of our guests go back home smelling fresh, after a good warm-water scrub and a much needed brush,” she tells.

Apart from overnight stays, they also offer daycare and puppy crèche facilities where doggies are dropped off for the day and picked up in the evenings. They also organise socialising sessions and Play Dates where pets and their pet parents interact with each other and other dogs. “With our Pet Parties, we go beyond all limits to make the pet’s special day just pawfect…with decorations, snacks, birthday games, take away gifts and the special birthday cake. Of late, we have introduced another fun segment to PetStepin’ and that’s our Grooming Spa called ‘Paw’lished’ with various exciting packages and aroma therapy massage. From basic haircuts and styling to special medicated baths for various sensitive skin types…from pawdicures to aroma therapy massages…we just want to give pet parents another reason to pamper their precious pooch,” adds Dr Nezhat.

Food and treats… Pets get freshly cooked meals twice a day (8 am and 4:30 pm) and a snack in the afternoons (1 pm). “We cater both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets and also make arrangements for pets with allergies or special requirements. For pets who are used to only a commercial diet, we provide a branded dry food diet and if pet parents are particular of a special brand then we order the same at an additional cost. We also administer medication and food supplements to pets based on their requirements,” mentions Dr Nezhat. Fresh water is available round the clock in clean bowls placed all over the open grounds.

Rates per day… The rates range from Rs 350 to Rs 450 per day, based on the age and size of the dog. Discounts are given for more than one pet from the same family as well as long stays.

Medical facilities… In case of health check-ups, vaccinations, de-worming or injuries, their vet is immediately informed and either he drops by at the facility or the pet is taken to the vet hospital for treatment. “In case of any emergency, the managers at PetStepin’ have been trained in first aid care, thus after stabilising the animal, he is immediately rushed to the vet hospital,” adds Dr Nezhat.

Message to pet parents… It is very simple to be a pet parents but responsible pet parenting takes some work!! At PetStepin’ we try to share a bit of this responsibility and make pet parenting an actual pleasure even though you may be bogged down with a hectic work schedule.

For more info, call at: 09886584925, 09742279644 or visit: www.petstepin.com

Canine Elite, New Delhi

Canine Elite is a professional kennel specialising in boarding and lodging of dogs and cats in their very own suites. Canine Elite aims to provide a ‘home away from home’ for canine and feline guests so that their pet parents can relax, secure in the knowledge that their beloved pets are receiving the best possible care. “Only vaccinated pets are admitted so that we can be sure that our facility is a safe and healthy environment. We also work for the benefit of Delhi’s street dogs and are active in encouraging responsible adoption of street dogs or dogs abandoned by their pet parents,” tells Sonya Kochhar of Canine Elite. Canine Elite can accommodate upto 50 dogs and 30 cats.

Facilities offered… Canine Elite provides clean spacious rooms with heating in winter and air-conditioning in summer. The rooms are tiled for easy cleaning. If two dogs from the same house are being boarded together, they can be accommodated in the same suite. “We also have extra large kennels for older or larger canine guests. Our canine guests enjoy regular walks and regular grooming to keep them in tip-top condition. And if any of our guests have training issues we have full qualified trainers on hand to help,” shares Sonya.

“Dogs are social animals and we encourage socialising among our canine guests. Our kennel has a swimming pool and doggy swims are organised on a regular basis. We also offer pet-grooming events and doggy celebrations such as birthday parties,” she adds.

Canine hydrotherapy… Canine Elite also offers canine hydrotherapy. “We hold weekly dog swimming sessions at our Mehrauli facility. At our Sunday Swims, both pooches and their pet parents have a lot of fun, and the dogs get an excellent workout. For those who prefer to remain poolside, our trained staff is more than happy to swim with the dogs. Just as swimming benefits people in many ways, it is great for dogs too. Consider, for example, the buoyancy of water. Not only does it reduce the stress on joints, it also encourages free movement while providing a safe environment for exercise. And while your pooch is exercising and building muscle, he’s also having great fun!” explains Sonya.

“Besides having fun and getting a good workout, playing in water helps aging dogs and those with arthritis, paralysis and other mobility issues. It’s also wonderful in fighting obesity and improving balance, coordination and muscle tone,” she adds.

Food and treats… “We provide a wholesome cooked diet as well as commercial food like Pedigree, Royal Canin, Eukanuba or any other dog food our guests enjoy. Special diets can be provided if required,” she tells as a matter of fact.

Medical facilities… Vets are on call 24×7, so any health emergencies can be immediately taken care of.

What next… Canine Elite will soon be opening branches nationally and internationally. For more info, call at: 09871397179, 08860084587 or visit: www.canineelite.com

Pet boarding…

PetSitters, Pune: Yet another facility where you can check-in your pooch for a cosy stay is PetSitters in Pune.
For more info, call at: 09881076677 or visit: www.petsitters.co.in

Pooch Holiday Home, Bengaluru: Pooch Holiday Home is designed for the pet parents who wish to leave their pets at a safe and homely environment.
For more info, call at: 09986734843/ 09916988553 or visit: www.poochholidayhome.co.in

Pooches N More, Kolkata: This Kolkata-based pet resort is known for its homely ambience where dogs are neither caged nor chained.
For more info, call at: 09836595229/ 09831549221 or visit: www.poochesnmore.com

It’s Pawssible, Pune: It’s Pawssible offers exclusive small breed dog boarding with full undivided attention.
For more info, call at: 09422002408 or visit: www.itspawssible.com

ALFA 11, Gurgaon: ALFA 11 is a destination where your four-legged family member can enjoy its boarding, playful and other activities.
For more info, call at: 09911434472 or visit: www.alfa11.in

Pawfect shutterbugs!

We love to shoot our pets…through the lens…but at times we do not get that perfect shot. Not to worry…there are professional pet photographers to get that wonderful pawtrait. Here’s more on an Indian and a Scotland-based pet photographer. Meet Surya Dinkar of Pet Portraits, Chennai and Paul Walker of Paws Pet Photography, Scotland…two animal lovers at heart, who have taken pet photography as a profession.

Surya Dinkar – It’s not just my love for animals, it’s my respect for creatures

The beginning: “I used to click photographs of my pets and the animals I rescue and foster for memories. When my dog Mojo died last year, I was in deep shock, it was an unfortunate accident and it took me a while to get over it. Soon I realised I had great pictures of him. I was aware of pet photography and I saw a need for really good pet photographers. That’s when I started Pet Portraits about a year ago,” tells Surya.

“It’s not just my love for animals, it’s my respect for creatures who stay ever so true to their nature and character. It’s just an absolute delight being able to capture those expressions and moments. I shoot all sorts of pets – cats, dogs, rabbits, fish, birds and horses,” she adds.

The upside and flip sides: “Personally photographing animals and children is such a pleasure. Animals can’t fake it. Unlike models… they don’t care how their pictures turn out and never ask me to show them the camera LCD as soon as I click; they never complain that they look fat,” laughs Surya.

“The equipments and props are much different. I carry two cameras, it’s hard to change lenses with all the dust and hair floating around. The equipments kept minimal, can’t have too many wires placed carelessly. The background setup is done with much care,” she adds.

“In pet photography, the subjects, unless highly trained, do not co-operate, so we have to wait for the right moment and the right expression to get the right picture, for which very high amount of patience is required. Most pets get agitated in unfamiliar surroundings and somehow feel uncomfortable when we try to make them stay at a particular place or try to get them to make a certain expression. So the ‘knack’ of capturing the right expression with the right background is what comes with experience. For example, a dog jumping into water… you get only one chance, after that he will take hours to dry before a retake. There is also a small risk element involved. Sometimes pets can get confused and can panic and may even snap at the photographer,” explains Surya.

Unique pet photography techniques: “I get down to their level… hardest part of the job. It’s literally rolling on the floor just like them, be it on the sand and floor of the studio or home. Every pet is unique so my technique varies, some need a lot of distractions like toys, treats and sounds and some pets just want to be left in their own space to get the expression that the pet parent likes,” tells Surya.

“Besides, I spend a lot of time with the pets before the shoot, to understand them and get them comfortable with my presence. It’s about energies, when me and the pet are in tune, it all goes just so well in harmony. I try avoiding talking too much because our pets are very smart, they understand what we are saying and they trick us and try get out of the spotlight with any opportunity possible during indoor shoots. It can be physically challenging at times. It can be more of a challenge working with the pet parent ‘trying to help’ than working with the animal alone. The pet parent can unknowingly be a distraction to the pet and compromise the best shots. It’s a life-long learning process, just like any other art form,” says Surya.

Indoor vs outdoor: “I have a mobile studio, fully equipped. Either way I shoot at the pet’s house indoor and outdoor or in a place where the pet is comfortable, his favourite beach or park or even his own swimming pool. ‘‘Indoor shoots work perfectly well with the smaller toy breeds and you can play with many different accessories and toys, while outdoor has its own beauty and I can play with the angles and perspectives. Personally I prefer using natural light for my subjects, it brings out the best in them,” mentions Surya.

“For most of us, our pets are family… sometimes the most spoilt member of the family. We are lucky to have found the companion of our lifetime, sadly we outlive them so never hesitate to capture those precious expressions and memories before you part ways,” concludes Surya.

(Surya Dinkar runs Pet Portraits based in Chennai. For further info, visit: www.facebook.com/suryadinkarpets or email at: suryadinkar@gmail.com)

Paul Walker – Photographing animals since childhood

The beginning: Paul Walker’s love of photographing animals started as a young child. “My passion for pets started in my childhood when I was the proud pet parent of a range of animals from dogs and cats to rabbits, guinea pigs and even a duck!” tells Paul. Now he and his wife Kathryn are pet parents of a Standard Schnauzer called Millie.

Unique pet photography techniques: The backgrounds that Paul chooses are vitally important to complementing the pet who is being photographed. “Equally important is the quality and direction of light on the subject,” he adds.

“When photographing a new pet, it is essential to find out all about his characteristics, motivations and behaviour so that the photo session can be carried out safely,” tells Paul.

Challenging shoot: There have been so many memorable moments in Paul’s pet photography career. “However, my time in Qatar was probably the most challenging when faced with photographing pets in the melting sun rays with vast desert backgrounds,” he quips in.

The awards: Paul has won ‘Scottish Master Pet Photographer of the Year Award’ for five years in a row and overall ‘Scottish Master Photographer of the Year’ in 2009.

(Paul Walker runs Paws Pet Photography in Scotland; www.pawspetphotography.co.uk).

E-mail us your ‘Pawssionate Professions’ at: info@dogsandpups.net

Pawfect shutterbugs!

We love to shoot our pets…through the lens…but at times we do not get that perfect shot. Not to worry…there are professional pet photographers to get that wonderful pawtrait. Here’s more on an Indian and a Scotland-based pet photographer. Meet Surya Dinkar of Pet Portraits, Chennai and Paul Walker of Paws Pet Photography, Scotland…two animal lovers at heart, who have taken pet photography as a profession.

Surya Dinkar – It’s not just my love for animals, it’s my respect for creatures

The beginning: “I used to click photographs of my pets and the animals I rescue and foster for memories. When my dog Mojo died last year, I was in deep shock, it was an unfortunate accident and it took me a while to get over it. Soon I realised I had great pictures of him. I was aware of pet photography and I saw a need for really good pet photographers. That’s when I started Pet Portraits about a year ago,” tells Surya.

“It’s not just my love for animals, it’s my respect for creatures who stay ever so true to their nature and character. It’s just an absolute delight being able to capture those expressions and moments. I shoot all sorts of pets – cats, dogs, rabbits, fish, birds and horses,” she adds.

The upside and flip sides: “Personally photographing animals and children is such a pleasure. Animals can’t fake it. Unlike models… they don’t care how their pictures turn out and never ask me to show them the camera LCD as soon as I click; they never complain that they look fat,” laughs Surya.

“The equipments and props are much different. I carry two cameras, it’s hard to change lenses with all the dust and hair floating around. The equipments kept minimal, can’t have too many wires placed carelessly. The background setup is done with much care,” she adds.

“In pet photography, the subjects, unless highly trained, do not co-operate, so we have to wait for the right moment and the right expression to get the right picture, for which very high amount of patience is required. Most pets get agitated in unfamiliar surroundings and somehow feel uncomfortable when we try to make them stay at a particular place or try to get them to make a certain expression. So the ‘knack’ of capturing the right expression with the right background is what comes with experience. For example, a dog jumping into water… you get only one chance, after that he will take hours to dry before a retake. There is also a small risk element involved. Sometimes pets can get confused and can panic and may even snap at the photographer,” explains Surya.

Unique pet photography techniques: “I get down to their level… hardest part of the job. It’s literally rolling on the floor just like them, be it on the sand and floor of the studio or home. Every pet is unique so my technique varies, some need a lot of distractions like toys, treats and sounds and some pets just want to be left in their own space to get the expression that the pet parent likes,” tells Surya.

“Besides, I spend a lot of time with the pets before the shoot, to understand them and get them comfortable with my presence. It’s about energies, when me and the pet are in tune, it all goes just so well in harmony. I try avoiding talking too much because our pets are very smart, they understand what we are saying and they trick us and try get out of the spotlight with any opportunity possible during indoor shoots. It can be physically challenging at times. It can be more of a challenge working with the pet parent ‘trying to help’ than working with the animal alone. The pet parent can unknowingly be a distraction to the pet and compromise the best shots. It’s a life-long learning process, just like any other art form,” says Surya.

Indoor vs outdoor: “I have a mobile studio, fully equipped. Either way I shoot at the pet’s house indoor and outdoor or in a place where the pet is comfortable, his favourite beach or park or even his own swimming pool. ‘‘Indoor shoots work perfectly well with the smaller toy breeds and you can play with many different accessories and toys, while outdoor has its own beauty and I can play with the angles and perspectives. Personally I prefer using natural light for my subjects, it brings out the best in them,” mentions Surya.

“For most of us, our pets are family… sometimes the most spoilt member of the family. We are lucky to have found the companion of our lifetime, sadly we outlive them so never hesitate to capture those precious expressions and memories before you part ways,” concludes Surya.

(Surya Dinkar runs Pet Portraits based in Chennai. For further info, visit: www.facebook.com/suryadinkarpets or email at: suryadinkar@gmail.com)

LPaul Walker – Photographing animals since childhood

The beginning: Paul Walker’s love of photographing animals started as a young child. “My passion for pets started in my childhood when I was the proud pet parent of a range of animals from dogs and cats to rabbits, guinea pigs and even a duck!” tells Paul. Now he and his wife Kathryn are pet parents of a Standard Schnauzer called Millie.

Unique pet photography techniques: The backgrounds that Paul chooses are vitally important to complementing the pet who is being photographed. “Equally important is the quality and direction of light on the subject,” he adds.

“When photographing a new pet, it is essential to find out all about his characteristics, motivations and behaviour so that the photo session can be carried out safely,” tells Paul.

Challenging shoot: There have been so many memorable moments in Paul’s pet photography career. “However, my time in Qatar was probably the most challenging when faced with photographing pets in the melting sun rays with vast desert backgrounds,” he quips in.

The awards: Paul has won ‘Scottish Master Pet Photographer of the Year Award’ for five years in a row and overall ‘Scottish Master Photographer of the Year’ in 2009.

(Paul Walker runs Paws Pet Photography in Scotland; www.pawspetphotography.co.uk).

E-mail us your ‘Pawssionate Professions’ at: info@dogsandpups.net

Excellence in the pet grooming industry honoured

For an athlete, there’s no higher honour than winning an Olympic gold medal… for a writer, it’s a Pulitzer Prize… and for a professional pet groomer, it’s a Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Award.

Since their inception in 1988, the ‘Crystal Awards’ have come to signify the very highest standards of excellence in the pet grooming industry. Like a Hollywood Oscar statuette, the 12-inch engraved Crystal Obelisk is a coveted symbol that proclaims its owner a member of the most elite group within his/her profession.

Sponsored by Cardinal Pet Care, in Azusa, a California-based pet products supplier, and marketed by MacFadden Communications, the publisher of Pet Business and Grooming Business magazines, the prestigious awards are given out annually every September at the Superzoo Pet Retailer Trade Show in Las Vegas. They are announced at a dinner that has all the red-carpet glitz and glamour of the movie industry’s Academy Awards – which is perhaps why the Crystals have often been referred to as the pet grooming industry’s version of the Oscars!

Recognising excellence…

According to Cardinal Pet Care President and CEO Tony de Vos, the idea behind the Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Awards is to promote and recognise excellence in pet grooming, while creating a greater spirit of cooperation and sharing throughout the grooming community. According to Tony, whose company has been serving groomers for over 60 years, “We started the Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Awards with the idea that by honouring groomers who have made truly outstanding achievements, it would raise the level of professionalism in our industry as a whole. In addition, providing top groomers with well-deserved recognition, the Crystal Awards have served as a communications platform that makes it easier for leading industry members to share their knowledge and techniques with other groomers, to the benefit of all.”

Making a difference…

While the dogs who get beautified by groomers have kennel club shows to compete and win awards in, the accomplishments and contributions of the groomers themselves have often gone unnoticed. Yet, it is those very groomers who can make a big difference, not only in a dog’s appearance, but also his health and well-being, added Barbara Denzer, Vice President of Cardinal Pet Care. “When a groomer sees a dog regularly, she is often the first to spot rashes, swellings or changes to his skin or coat, and can alert the pet parent to these problems,” said Barbara. “Groomers work tirelessly as first-line pet care professionals, and that’s another reason why Cardinal is proud to honour them with the Crystal Awards.”

Excellent eight…

Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Awards are awarded to grooming professionals who are voted by their peers to be tops in eight different categories:

  • American Groomer of the Year – Based on grooming ability; knowledge of correct breed standards; wins and awards in the competitive ring; professional attitude and good sportsmanship.
  • International Groomer of the Year – Same criteria as above, except recipient is from outside the United States.
  • Grooming Contest Judge of the Year – Given to an individual who has made a valuable contribution to the grooming world as a contest judge, has strong knowledge of breeds and contest rules, and demonstrates honesty and courage of convictions.
  • The Congeniality Award – Recipient has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship, fellowship and camaraderie.
  • Retail Grooming Salon of the Year with Five Stores or Fewer – Awarded to a groomer in a retail environment who maintains the highest standards of professionalism and customer service.
  • Retail Grooming Salon of the Year with More Than Five Stores – Same as above, but the business has more than five stores.
  • Mobile Groomer of the Year – Awarded to an individual who runs a mobile grooming business that maintains the highest standards of professionalism and customer service.
  • The David G Salzberg Award for Outstanding Contribution – Honours an individual or organisation that has contributed most significantly to the advancement of the grooming industry through service or research.

What all of the Crystal Award winners have in common, along with their commitment to excellence and professionalism in their industry, is a strong love and regard for the well-being of pets.

Recoup in able hands

Beautiful music serenading throughout the entire premises, giving an effect of tranquility and relaxation, attractive wall paintings adorning the walls and giving it a lively look…don’t be surprised, you are at Nandini Veterinary Hospital. And that’s not all, the doctors and the facilities are best in the class… ensuring complete cure and relaxing experience for your pet.

Surat-based Nandini Veterinary Hospital was founded in the year 2000 by Shri Surat Panjarapole Trust. The history of the trust dates back to the 17th century, where two philanthropists, with an objective to nurture and care the old and disabled animals of all types started the Panjarapole Trust. Today, the trust has four branches in Surat district and is rendering services to over 10,000 animals. The hospital was started with the obvious aim to provide a better way of living and rehabilitation to the disabled animals, not only from the city but also from the rural areas and around Surat.

Skilled practitioners

There comes no surprise that the hospital is well run by the highly qualified doctors, headed by Dr Subhash N Desai, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), looking after the administrative set up of the hospital. The versatile surgeon of the hospital Dr Pralhad Shanker Chaudhary, who has credit of performing about 8,000 major surgeries in all kinds of animals, is serving the hospital since its inception. The medicine department is under the able guidance of Dr Jagdish Prasad Varshney, an eminent scientist retired from the Indian Veterinary Institute, Izzatnagar, providing service to hospital with his wide experience of disease diagnosis and therapeutics as a veterinary medicine consultant and cardiologist. The diagnostic laboratory, being the heart of the hospital, is well-managed by Dr Vipin Vinayak Deshmukh, a veterinary pathologist serving since last 12 years with wide knowledge of disease diagnosis through different laboratory diagnostic procedures. Besides, the hospital has group of well-trained junior doctors, livestock inspectors and animal attendants engaged to manage the work efficiently.

Excellent infrastructure

The hospital offers 24 hours emergency services for animals in distress with availability of all kinds of facilities under one roof. One of the most envious part of the hospital is its infrastructure, set up in two buildings (c and s type), which house facilities like small animal OPD with waiting room, large animal OPD, small animal OT, large animal OT, pre and post operative rooms for large and small animals, post operative recovery room, infusion ward for small animals, separate gastro enterology ward for small animals, ECG and cardiac auscultation room, X-ray room with advance modalities like computer radiography, ultrasound room with recently installed colour doppler, sterilisation room, inpatient wards for small and large animals, separate birds ward and OT, ambulance facilities for large and small animals and laboratory with all the advance amenities like automatic blood cell counter, blood serum analyser, urine analyser, photomicroscope and culture room. Interestingly both the buildings are decorated with mural paintings and photographs of birds and animals projected by renowned artists. The Nandini Veterinary Hospital proclaims that cleanliness and decency is maintained, just like human hospitals. This may well be gauged by the neat premises of the hospital (inside as well as outside) and a beautiful and a well-maintained garden to give better ambience to the hospital.

One-stop shop for all your doggy needs

The hospital also boasts of a newly erected decent dog parlour, taking into consideration that dogs are the most common pets whom people keep. Shampoo bath, anti-tick bath, skin treatments/application for dermatological affection, hair dressings, hair settings, nail trimming, ear cleaning are some of the lavish pleasures that a dog can experience in the parlour. The hospital also has the facility of the dog hostel/motel to keep the pets when the pet parents are going outside the city. Apart from this, the hospital also runs behaviour modification centre for pet dogs by giving different trainings like self obedience, guarding, tracking specially managed by an expert dog trainer.

What’s more?

Apart from regular treatments of the animals, the hospital also organises awareness camps in the city as well as villages. Large camps are organised by the trust where free ophthalmic check-up and vaccination is given to pets and small animals.

The future plans

The hospital is not resting on its present laurels, it envisages elaborate facilities like ICU for small animals, Dental Care Unit for small animals, Ophthalmology Department for large and small animals, Maternity Ward for large animals, Endoscopy and Laparoscopy Unit for large and small animals, Cardiac Department, besides 365 days round the clock OPD services for the patients. Though there’s still a long way to go, the hospital is subtly, but surely, moving towards the vision to reduce suffering. Kudos to their efforts!

Mastering the art of canine communication

You know

+  He is happy when you find him wagging his tail.
+  You know he is sad when he is lying quietly, tucked under the table.
+  You know he wants to go out when he grabs you by your shirt and drags you out.
+  You know he wants you to pet him when he adoringly rests his head on your lap.

 

Their love for the canine community inspired them to study and analyse the thoughts, emotions and behaviour patterns of dogs and design effective dog training techniques that can help pet parents establish better relationship with their dogs. Let us meet some of the renowned dog behaviour specialists and dog trainers who have mastered the art of communicating with canines.

You might feel that you understand your dog’s thoughts and emotions very well, but there would have been times when your pooch behaved in an unexpected manner leaving you completely baffled. Being closely attached to our dogs we might feel that they are one of us, often remaining blind to the fact that dogs after all a different species. The way dogs communicate with us and other dogs is a lot different from the way we communicate with fellow human beings.

Having said that, if reading a dog’s mind appears to be an impossible task for you, think again. There have been several dog trainers and dog behaviour specialists who have successfully mastered the art of communicating with canines and made this seemingly impossible task of reading the minds of dogs possible. They have been relentlessly studying dogs, their way of communication with humans and other dogs, all through their lives. By applying their knowledge gained over years of exhaustive study and practice, they have designed their own dog training techniques to help pet parents understand their dogs better, communicate with them more effectively and establish a better relationship with them.

Let us meet some of these exceptional dog trainers who have gained recognitions in this world for their extraordinary connection with canines.

The dog whisperer – Barbara Woodhouse

Barbara Woodhouse was a well-known British dog trainer who shared a unique connection with animals right from a very young age. Not just dogs, Barbara had a way with horses too. She would train dogs appearing in movies and in the year 1980, she became popular with her TV show ‘Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way’ on BBC. This show was a televised dog obedience class with dogs and their pet parents as students. Barbara’s commanding words in the show like ‘walkies’ and ‘sit’, quickly became buzzwords among dog lovers.

Barbara was a firm believer in the ability of dogs to respond to our moods and energies and the ability of pet parents in changing their dog’s behaviour by changing their own demeanor. She would say, “There are no bad dogs, only inexperienced pet parents.” Barbara has helped solve behavioural issues in dogs belonging to Hollywood stars. She has also written several books based on animals, namely, her autobiography Talking to Animals, her bestselling book No Bad Dogs the Woodhouse Way and several others on dogs. From the time she was a young teenager until her death in the year 1988, Barbara had trained over 17,000 dogs.

The Dogman – Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan, a world renowned dog trainer is known for his incredible ability to walk large pack of dogs with ease. Born and brought up in Mexico, Cesar discovered his passion for canines when he was a young teenager. He would always be surrounded by gang of canines for which he was being nicknamed as ‘El Perrero’ by the local people, meaning ‘The Dogman’ in Spanish. Cesar went to America to pursue his dream of becoming the world’s greatest dog trainer. He read books on dog psychology and with his vast experience in handling dogs, Cesar developed his own training techniques to solve behavioural problems in dogs.

Cesar grabbed the national spotlight in the year 2004 with his show ‘Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan’ on National Geographic Channel. In this show, Cesar visits the homes of pet parents having having problematic pooches and without any prior preparation the dog whisperer documents the incredible transformations that occur in the dogs under his calm and assertive guidance.

Cesar Millan and his dog training approaches have been covered by The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, CBS-TV, The Oprah Winfrey Show and various other media sources. His clientele includes a veritable who’s who of Hollywood stars like Will Smith, Nicolas Cage, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Duff and several others. This dog whisperer provides valuable training tips to all pet parents across this world through his website and books like How to Raise a Perfect Dog and Be the Pack Leader. Cesar also supports the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned dogs with the help of Millan Foundation that provides financial support to assist non-profit animal welfare organisations and carries out spaying and neutering programmes to help reduce dog population.

According to Cesar, a dog’s survival depends on the presence of a strong and organised pack where each member follows the rules laid out by the pack leader. This pack instinct helps dogs maintain a calm and balanced demeanor. Cesar advices pet parents to become this calm and assertive pack leader to prevent their dogs from developing anti-social behaviour and various behavioural problems. In his training sessions with the pet parents, he counsels them to train their dogs and look at the world through their dog’s eyes.

The dog listener – Jan Fennell

Jan Fennell’s lifelong love affair with dogs began during her childhood in London and blossomed when she became a successful breeder, winning prizes at major shows including Cruft’s. Over the last 20 years, her remarkable work with pet parents and their dogs and her frequent contributions to television and radio have won her a worldwide, admiring audience.

Becoming disillusioned with traditional training methods which involved attempting to teach dogs how to learn our language, or to cooperate through force, Jan was inspired by the methods of Monty Roberts, the ‘Horse Whisperer’. He had decided to study how horses communicated with each other and used that information to teach horses in a way they would understand. Jan knew these principles could be applied to other animals and if someone could take the time to study dogs (wolves) in their natural environment, the information gathered could be used to communicate with dogs in a way they would easily understand. Her method, ‘Amichien Bonding’, involves teaching pet parents how to interact with their dogs and impart information to them in a way they will understand, resulting in dogs cooperating with their pet parents through choice rather than coercion.

According to her, the key to creating the relationship that both the dog and the pet parents really deserve is to see the world through the eyes of the dog, working with their instincts and nature. By teaching, helping and protecting, we are able to communicate with our dogs to guarantee a wonderful future.

Today, Jan travels all over the world, along with her son Tony Knight, educating pet parents everywhere in the correct way to live with their pets in peace and harmony. Jan’s method, explained in the international bestseller The Dog Listener is not the exclusive realm of professional dog trainers but can be used successfully by absolutely anyone.

Irrespective of their adopted methods of training, all these dog trainers have played a major role in resolving complicated dog behaviour issues and have made a contribution towards establishing a loving and peaceful relationship between countless dogs and their pet parents. Kudos to all these dog behaviour specialists for their commitment towards the welfare of canine community!

The Florida dog trainer – Martin Deelay

Martin Deelay is a Florida-based dog trainer and writer specialising in the training of hunting dogs especially Spaniels and Retrievers. Martin has been organising workshops for pet parents and trainers through his organisations, International Gundog Workshops and International School for Dog Trainers. He is the cofounder and director of The International Association of Canine Professionals, an organisation committed to maintaining high standard of professional practices among canine professionals. He has written several books on training of gundogs like Advanced Gundog Training, Working Gundogs and Getting it Right with Gundogs.

He is a close associate and friend of Cesar Millan. He wrote the ‘foreword’ to Millan’s popular book Cesar’s Way. Notably, Martin was granted a personal interview with the queen of England. He considers the interview as a great honour of his life as it reflects the confidence and trust that her majesty had in his integrity to publicly reveal her love for gundogs.

The Sirius dog trainer – Ian Dunbar

Dr Ian Dunbar is a highly accomplished dog trainer, veterinarian, and founder of the Sirius Dog Training School. He received his veterinary degree and a special honour degree in physiology and biochemistry from Royal Veterinary College, London University with a doctorate in animal behaviour from the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley where he researched the development of social hierarchies and aggressions in domestic dogs.

He advocates the practice of reward-based, dog-friendly training techniques and stresses on the importance of teaching bite inhibition, socialisation and basic household manners to dogs under the age of six months. The reward-based training involves positive reinforcement using rewards like food treats and toys to bolster positive behaviour in dogs. By rewarding the dog when he shows a positive behaviour, it is possible to encourage dogs to repeat that behaviour more often.

Dr Dunbar is a member of American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, The Association of Pet Dog Trainers and The International Association of Canine Professionals. He has also written several books on dogs like How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks, The Good Little Dog Book and several others on common behaviour problems in dogs. Over the last 35 years, Dr Dunbar has given over 1,000 one-day seminars and workshops around the world of dog trainers and veterinarians in an effort to popularise off-lease puppy socialisation classes, temperament modification and pet parent as well as pet-friendly trainings. Dr Dunbar is currently the president of APDT Foundation, TopDog of the Centre for Applied Animal Behaviour and vice president of www.dogstardaily.com – a free online, a multimedia puppy raising and dog training website.


Expert speaks – Timing the greeting!

Ignoring your dog, when you meet up with them, after any separation, is so very difficult, as we love our dogs and to see those expectant, happy and loving eyes proves almost impossible to resist. So, I would ask you to think of ‘timing the greeting to benefit the dog’ and I promise you that your dog will never think that you are being rude, dismissive, ignorant or horrid if you walk past them when you come in through the door.

By appreciating a dog’s absolute need for a confident and calm leader and knowing that without such a leader the dog will be confused, stressed and usually rather sad, we can allow our love for them to come to their aid and do what they truly need.

Once you determine to help your dog by doing this and establish that you can come into the room without the dog rushing up to you, jumping, barking, bringing you ‘presents’ or barging into you then the greeting can happen after just a few seconds, which gives you time to physically get into the room, take off your coat and perhaps put down your bag or briefcase, making it possible for you to be ready to invite your dog to you for a huge cuddle.

The brilliant thing here is that like so much of life, when it is ‘right’ then it becomes easy and above all a joy. I know that seeing the happiness that doing this has bought to my own dogs, over the years, is worth putting my own feelings and needs to one side for them.

–Jan Fennell

Capturing pawssionate moments…

Only a dog lover can capture the best pose of a pooch…. Meet Gaurav Thombre who shoots pooches with camera…their smile, their personality, their individuality…all for the love of their pet parents.

The beginning…

Pet photography was born out of the kindness of my first pet doggy Brio, a yellow Labrador, who is now two years old. He is the one who motivated me to start this special service for pet lovers. Brio has kept me motivated to enter the unique passion of pet photography. He completely changed my vision and made my life more creative. He became my family member when he was just 35 days old and since then he impresses me by his poses and different expressions. Brio perfectly suits the breed Labrador. He has all the qualities of typical Labrador. He always wants to play, eat, bark only at other animals and follows me all the time. He’s definitely the most pampered and spoilt, he wants an attendant while eating and eats only when someone is standing next to him. That was the time I thought of pursuing professional pet photography and to do something out of the box. Thus, First Pets Photography Studio was born one and a half years back.

Capturing the personalities…

When I photograph animals, I capture not only their physical beauty, but their individual, unique and special personalities. I photograph them in their natural environment, in a space where they can be free and comfortable. When shooting in a studio setting, I keep the design simple and let your pet’s personality shine.

Photographing animals is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I love it. I love that each session is so different with every dog and this brings an entirely new adventure to the session. The only required thing is patience and note what they want to do.

Each click is different…

Whenever I have a pet to shoot, I give few minutes of warm up to let them adjust to the new place and create a happy atmosphere where dogs can be themselves. At this time, the reading of the pet is done. Whether he’s aggressive, calm, trained, colour and supportive, accordingly I plan the concept and shoot. For toy dogs, lighting is kept soft and for aggressive breeds, I play with single or harsh lighting which suits the personality of the breeds.

What clients want…

Choices of clients vary a lot. Many of them shoot to paste big prints in their living rooms, big frames in kid’s rooms or dog’s rooms, coffee table albums, matrimonial as in for mating, etc. They enjoy photographing their pet as they say that they never got this professional specialised eye to shoot their pet’s real personality.

On pooch love…

Pet parents are special, patient and supportive. They have a deep appreciation for their animals. The love and care for their paw-kids during session is always a family bonding. There are many memorable experiences but I particularly remember the Lhasa, who had his special clothes, glares, stoles, different types of brushes for different hair styles and only mineral water to drink. During the shoot, his pet parents used to converse with him in his ear and I got superb poses. People actually take care of their furry members just like their own children.

A memorable shoot…

Each shoot is a different experience for me. Every pet behaves different with all his kid-like nature and behaviour. The most adventurous and memorable experiences I’ve had was getting four 15-day-old Persian kittens to pose. The plan was to get a group shot and as they were so hyper and active that I could barely get them together. After testing my patience, finally in the end (before I thought I had lost it), I managed to get them all together, and that has been one of my best shots till date. At the end, those kittens must be saying, “Gaurav welcomes to pets photography.”

Tips to pet parents…

Just wait for his support and good mood and you will get the best shot ever, just be patient!

(Gaurav Thombre is the chief photographer for Overdrive magazine and runs the First Pets Photography Studio. For More details, log on to: www.gauravthombre.com)

We like to Pawrty

We like to party… meeting old friends and new… spending time together… playing games… enjoying the delicacies… having a free run… sniffing around… rolling on the grass… whew… it is a pawrty time for the pooches!

Dogs are social animals and are happiest in a pack. However, most dogs today are apartment dogs with minimal or no activity, low socialisation skills and with a lot of pent up energy. This energy needs to be channelised and doggies do need a day out! Thanks to the dog camps and other events which come as a welcome move for all. “The activities and games conducted are such that they not only physically tire the dogs out but mentally stimulate them as well. Not to forget, the right way of socialising a dog is conveyed to the pet parents along with various other aspects. Being run by certified canine behaviorists, it is a huge learning experience for a lot of people to learn many things about their dogs,” shares Anand Vishwanath of Anvis Inc. As Pooja Sathe of Crazy K9 Campers puts it, “In our country we hardly have any open spaces or dog parks for pets to enjoy a good run or socialise with other pets. Most of the resorts are also not pet friendly. Our camp gives pets and pet parents a unique chance to socialise with other pets, bond with one another and enjoy nature without causing any disturbance to other people.”

The inspiration…

When it’s for the dogs, the inspiration has to be pooch love too! These events are organised by pooch lovers who wish to celebrate the pooch love with like-minded people. As Pooja Sathe says, “Jazz, my pet Lab has been the inspiration for pet camp’s idea. He is a very active dog and loves going out on road trips with us. We used to take him with us for treks or swimming in rivers. Seeing him enjoying the outing so much encouraged me to form Crazy K9 Campers and organise these camps for enthusiastic pet parents and pets.” Started in July 2005, she has organised more than 30 weekend camps. Launched in May 2011, Party Barky Hai has organised over 40 events like birthdays, doggy day outs in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune; breakfast with your pets, and festivals. “Ragani and I were always trying to come up with ideas on what else to do for and with our dogs besides walks, drives and occasionally taking them to friends’ houses. As both of us are certified behaviourists and trainers and I have 10 years experience in event management, we decided to start a Canine Events Company to create various spaces for pets and pet parents to come together and just have a good time and bond with their pets in a supervised environment handled by specialists. And thanks to our own dogs that Party Barky Hai was born,” tells Shivani Mathur excitedly. While, Anvis Inc is a pet management company providing end-to-end solutions to pet parents. Anvis Inc is run by Anand Vishwanath and Srikanth Shankar, both primarily pet parents and Certified Canine Behaviourists. “Being pet parents ourselves, we’ve always felt the need for such gatherings. These gatherings are interactive, social events where other pet parents can talk ‘dog’. That apart, it is an excellent outlet for today’s apartment dogs to have a great time with their families with activities planned for them,” adds Anand, who has been organising these gatherings since March 2011. “Our events are held quarterly and usually have a theme attached to it. We’ve had four events so far in 2011, and plan to have another four this year with the first one kickstarting in May 2012,” he adds.

The venue…

But finding the right venue for such events is not easy. It has to be dog-friendly and suitable for pet parents as well. As Anand shares, “The primary factors are comfort and enjoyment of the pet along with the family, accessibility to the location and the property being as pet friendly as possible.” “We think from both human and the dog’s side and make venues safe and specified for those purposes. Healthy and safety and food and hygiene standards are our top priority in events. For example, we ensure the ground is safe so that the dogs don’t get cut by glass or pins and nails. We also ensure there is water easily available for both pet parents and dogs, electricals are safely installed, etc,” adds Shivani. “We try to get venues which are not more than a couple of hours away from the city, so the journey doesn’t become too hectic for the pets,” adds Pooja as a matter of fact. “The idea behind Party Barky Hai is that every event is a unique experience, different concepts come into play to create a unique vibe; therefore the venue is different each time catering to different audiences and demographics,” tells Shivani.

The gathering…

There’s no fixed number of people and pooches at such events. “This depends on the event and venue. For example, the Party Barky Hai breakfasts are done with 15 dogs plus pet parents at a pet friendly restaurant and Party Barky Hai Doggy Day Outs have over 30 dogs and Party Barky Hai festivals like Celebrate Bandra had 100 dogs,” tells Shivani as a matter of fact. While, at Anvis Inc, there are an average number of 30-40 dogs and their pet parents in every event and at Crazy K9 Campers, they are similar.

The activities…

The activities are designed in a manner that it is inspiring enough for the canines and a pleasurable and learning experience for the pet parents as well. The idea is to have fun – both for pooches as well as their pet parents. “We have some special training games which help the pet parents understand the importance of communication with their pets. These games are simple yet fun for dogs and we also encourage the untrained dogs to participate in them as it improves their confidence,” tells Pooja. “Each game we play has a specific training and learning for both pet parents and their pets. Through our events we provide the avenue for physical and mental stimulation of the dogs. We teach the pet parents to understand their dogs and canine behaviour in general. A lot of times the pet parents are surprised with their dog’s good/calm behaviour, which they gain confidence to take their dogs out more often. Everyone goes home with a different highlight, some are happy with the event, some love the games, some love the time spent with their dog, while some love the variety of partners we bring to the table,” adds Shivani. For Anvis Inc, agility session in their events is a huge draw. “It is a self rewarding activity/sport for dogs at all our events. Swimming and swimming games for pets and their pet parents have always been greatly appreciated. That apart, there are tonnes of fun games for pet parents to be played along with their dogs. The people and dogs seem to love it and always look forward to more but are held back due to their limited energy levels,” tells Anand. “Besides, we usually have a Canine Behaviourist giving a small talk and demo about the behaviour issues. We try and make our events an ultimate family getaway with the dogs being the focus! It is ideal day(s) to unwind for any dog loving family. All our events are pet-centric and the pet parents are more than happy to oblige,” adds Anand.

The challenges…

Events in general are very specialised and detailed properties and when you have dogs added to the mix, they become even more detailed and specific. “Getting a pet friendly venue/resort is always the biggest challenge. In our initial years, resort pet parents used to make fun of our concept but now we have resort owners approaching us to organise events at their venues,” shares Pooja. To this, Anand adds, “The main challenge is always trying to convince property owners to let a huge gang of dogs and their families crash into their property to have a good time. It is a long and slow process involving countless phone calls, mails and visits to various properties much prior to the actual event to ensure that the dogs have a good time. Once that is done, it is extremely important to ensure and constantly keep an eye for dogs who could get into a fight, apart from ensuring that everyone has a good time. We also always ensure we set ground rules with all our members on the do’s and don’ts at the property. Since all our members are validated by us personally, the co-operation we have received has been phenomenal. We have not had a single complaint of destruction, nuisance or any other perception that is generally associated with dogs from any of the previous property owners.”

The cost…

At Party Barky Hai, the average cost of such events is Rs 1,000 which is usually inclusive of freesbies, either a goody bag for the dogs, or meal for the pet parents. While, at Anvis Inc, the prices are entirely based on the location, the facilities provided and the theme of the event. “It can range anywhere from Rs 1,500 to Rs 6,000 for a couple,” tells Anand.

The delight…

“Our aim is to make people have fun, to educate them on correct methods on how to handle their dogs and at the end of that day if both the pet parents and pet sleep well that night we believe we succeeded,” tells Shivani. While Pooja adds, “We have so many special memories of our camps. Usually we have many new comers to our camps and most of the time the pet parents are apprehensive as they have never left their pets off leash among so many pets. But as the camp progresses and they see their pets having a time of their life, the expressions on their faces are priceless.” And pooch lovers like us would definitely agree!

Splash a while…

Anand Vishwanath and Srikanth Shankar of Anvis Inc say, “We introduced a swimming pool for about 35 dogs to swim and be in the water. This was a first time experience to a majority of the dogs who had never ever been in a swimming pool or in the water before! Agility was also introduced and continues to be a part of all our events. We had also taken a big group of dogs and people to a hill station called Yelagiri and had booked an entire resort. The next (fairly cold) morning, we were elated to see 95 percent of the pet parents out at around 5:30 am walking the dogs, playing with them and taking in the beautiful surroundings. Needless to say the dogs were at their happiest best!”

The showtime…

“At our Christmas Party in Mumbai, each pet parent and dog put up a little on the spot skit and it was fantastic to see how completely in sync the pet parents – dog team were. Quite a few dogs surprised us with their acting talent!!” tells Shivani Mathur of Party Barky Hai.