We love pets. The idea of bringing home a cute animal excites children as well as grownups, and a lot of people do manage to adopt a pet that becomes a part of their family. The amazing journey takes one through different stages of learning, adapting to busy schedules and so much more. But there are some hiccups that we have to deal with in this journey- One of them being time.
Working people have to spend several hours away from their homes, leaving their beloved pets all alone. Then there are work-related trips, unplanned visits to relatives or simply vacations where you cannot take your pets along. So what do you do in these kind of situations?
Well, if you happen to be in Mumbai, visit The Pet Crib.
A pet boarding service run by Apeksha and Rohit Bhowmik, The Pet Crib is like the happiest boarding house you can imagine for that one family member who can’t tag along with you.
Apeksha – Growing up, we came across a lot of families that loved pets but couldn’t fully commit to one as they couldn’t travel with them or their hectic work schedules couldn’t accommodate for a pet. Plus back in the 90s, there were very few pet-friendly places in the country and the concept of home-stays was unknown. We identified that need-gap and fulfilled it by starting a home-stay for pets.
Rohit – We also realised that a lot of pet parents were uncomfortable with kennels. They either had a bad experience with one or the thought of leaving their dogs caged in a new environment, a new routine and new food schedule didn’t seem safe.
Apart from the four-legged visitors they often host, the couple has two dogs of their own. “When we started out, we didn’t have any dogs of our own. But last year we adopted a rescued Dachshund, Champ and this year we adopted a Saluki, Mia.“
He is a musician who works from home and looks after the pets throughout the day and she enjoys flexible working hours that allow her to be at home whenever required.
They say, “Champ had been through a lot when he came to us, so rehabilitating him taught us a lot about managing a rescued dog with an unpleasant history. He also has epilepsy, so this increased our knowledge about Canine Epilepsy.”
“Mia is a rare breed and raising her from a puppy to adulthood has taught us about active breeds, specifically Sighthounds. Both our hounds are very friendly as they have socialised a lot. Their energies are calm and non-threatening which makes our guests feel better about being in a new place. In fact, they love the company! We even have a few clients that bring their dogs over to play with them.“
Apart from the usual dogs or cats, the two have also hosted fish, rabbits and hamsters.
With 24 hour supervision, home cooked meals and daily grooming, this married couple needs a lot of supplies in order to pamper every single pet in their home.
Apeksha – From our experience of handling over 75 dogs and 13 cats, we know the basic requirements of most pets. We have the regular supplies like food, cleaning, grooming and much more.
Rohit – We interview the pet parents to understand the physical and emotional requirements of their pet to ensure they have a pleasant stay with us. Some are senior pets that need medicines on schedule, some are non-housebroken and need training and we arrange for specific supplies accordingly.
So you can imagine a well-stocked home and two people who are prepared to tackle any kind of situation.
The homestay is for dogs, cats or any other adorable (legal) pet/s that you may have. It is another home for your friend ensuring each guest is given ample amount of affection and attention.
To achieve that, they limit the number of guests they can keep at The Pet Crib.
Apeksha – We are not a kennel, so we keep our guests’ numbers down. We occasionally have up to 4 pets but the usual number is 2 or 3 at a time. Some days we have more pets in case of emergencies at the pet parents’ end.
Rohit – We have a limit on pets as we focus on giving each of them a positive experience during their stay with us.
They are passionate about animals. Even before they met, the two grew up in homes with dogs. “We’ve both grown up with dogs… We’ve also worked with animal rescue shelters in different cities.“
Managing a pet boarding service in their home requires sharing responsibilities and managing everything together. “So managing pets is from our personal experience and instincts, as we’ve had no formal training.“
Apeksha – Rohit manages behavioural and obedience training and exercise. Whereas I take care of the feeding, medication and grooming. Cats are comparatively easier to manage.
Away From Home
There are some dog breeds that can get used to being away from their masters every day. They can be trained to be comfortable at home while others step out for work. Then there are breeds that need constant attention from their masters. At The Pet Crib, all breeds are away from their homes.
Apeksha – That is true. We’ve had quite a few dogs who have severe anxiety and cannot bear to be away from their Pet parents. We spend a lot of time with them before the stay, do some confidence building exercises and get them involved in a lot of games so that they understand that the new home is not a threat.
Rohit – A dog is a reflection of his/her owner. Hence, interviewing the pet parents helps us understand how their temperaments have developed and we tailor our actions accordingly.
Somehow owning a pedigree or pure breed has now become a social status or trend in our society. We love the idea of owning those cute dogs that we see on Instagram every day, but we aren’t ready for the responsibility that comes with it. This behaviour has only boosted the breeding business.
Apeksha – We’ve never really questioned why a pet parent chose a pedigree breed and not adopted a stray but yes, we have come across a few cases where pet parents bought the dog and then gave it up for adoption because they couldn’t manage them.
I feel this mentality of choosing pedigree dogs over Indian breeds is changing slowly with pet parents becoming more aware and making well-informed choices.
Rohit – That said, a majority still prefer purebred dogs and that is their choice. We are nobody to judge them. All we can do is share our knowledge and experiences with them so that they are better equipped to manage their pet.
Those adorable breeds that have now become hashtags on Instagram were originally bred for specific purposes and had different personalities. Most people aren’t aware of this and tend to buy or adopt dogs without doing any research. Should potential dog owners spend some time researching before bringing a dog home?
Or should they simply get one and raise it as a part of their family because irrespective of the breed, the dog will adapt to the family’s lifestyle?
Apeksha -I disagree with the statement that irrespective of the breed/traits ‘’the dog will adapt to the family’s lifestyle.’’ Each breed has a different purpose and forcing him/her to do things against their instinct will not result in an emotionally and physically sound dog. All dog owners must do their research before getting a dog.
I’ll give you an example, Champ was bought from a puppy mill by first-time pet parents because they thought he was a toy breed. They wanted the temperament of a Labrador in a Dachshund body. He is a hound, a guard dog and requires ample physical and mental stimulation to keep him happy.
Instead what they did was, give him up for adoption after two years because he destroyed their furniture at home after being beaten and tied for 12 hours a day. This is just one of the innumerable stories I have come across.
It is extremely important for all owners to do their research, understand the breed, his/her requirements – physical, mental, emotional, figure out whether they have the time, space, finances to manage the new member and then consider getting a dog.
No matter how many puppy pictures or videos you like or share on social media, the reality is every year there are many dogs and cats that are abandoned by their owners. So we should create a vetting process for potential pet owners, right?
Apeksha – Puppy mills and backyard breeders do not care about vetting procedures. There actually can be no pragmatic way of ensuring that all pups go to good homes unless they are home-bred and the owners personally interview the families who take the pups.
Rohit – Most of the pet parents I’ve met whose dogs have had a litter, they ensure the family is prepared for the pup , have done their research and have the resources to bring up an emotionally balanced dog.
One must understand that trust is a big issue here. people are leaving their furry friends with strangers and the pets have to live in a completely new environment. So how does this home initiate building trust?
Apeksha – We always encourage pet parents to leave their pets for a trial stay. This helps us understand their pet and plan their stay better.
Even though most dogs are friendly and are happy to play with other pets at home, there are some who aren’t social.
Apeksha – Once in a while, we do get dogs that need to be alone either due to age or a past injury (can’t play with other dogs) and we keep them in a secure environment, away from the other dogs.
Rohit – We also give them their space initially when they come to our place – let them explore the place, new sights and smells and play with the other dogs.
They offer customized schedules for each and every pet that lives there. So they get different routine requirements which means tweaking their personal schedules accordingly.
Apeksha – Most dogs have a set routine unless they’re puppies. We follow the same schedule as they follow at home because following a new routine in a new environment can be difficult for them. Hence we stick to their food and walk schedules.
Rohit – We divide the tasks so that each pet is given adequate attention. Some dogs wake up at 5 am and some sleep at 1 am. So, it is a 24-hour job since there are only two of us to manage.
Not Just Another Home
By now you may have some idea of how passionate these two are and maybe you’ll consider them when you have an unplanned trip or a planned vacation in the future. But for this couple, The Pet Crib isn’t just another homestay for pets.
Apeksha – We foster abandoned and injured dogs that need rehabilitation before they find permanent homes.
Rohit – We also plan to get formally trained so we are better equipped to deal with all kinds of situations.
*All images belong to The Pet Crib.
All the stories published here begin with interviews with the people who get featured in our stories. These amazing people spare some time for us and we appreciate their help in building this magazine. Our goal is to share stories of interesting people and give our readers an experience that isn’t corrupted by advertisements.
To reduce the time spared by the people we interview, The Uncontrolled will soon have a new story format called ‘Shots’ – short interviews for our featured people and short stories for our readers. If you know someone who deserves to be featured or have an interesting story to tell, don’t hesitate to contact us.