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.

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