By Arathi Menon
Apple lives the life of a socialite. Her closet is stocked with the latest of grooming devices, perfumes and shampoos. She visits a parlour every two weeks for some oil massage and grooming, meets her buddies at the monthly meet of her social club at a park not far from her home and if the mood strikes, goes for a swim at a swimming pool nearby. Like every socialite, Apple too has an enviable lifestyle. Only, Apple is a pet dog in Mysuru.
If you parent a dog and are looking for a rented accommodation in Mysuru, there’s a good chance that you’re still looking for one. While most Mysureans are not open to the idea of keeping a dog inside the house, a growing number of animal-lovers in the city are trying hard to break stereotypes about pets and changing the game to the benefit of the animals. Result? Various parlours, recreational centres, social gatherings and top-notch boarding facilities are mushrooming in the city.
Way back in 2011, when people were still considering dogs and cats as “just dogs and cats,” Chitkala Arun opened a grooming centre and fancy store for pets in Gokulam. Her husband, Dr. C.S. Arun, a veterinarian, started a pet clinic in 2003. A professional pet groomer herself, Chitkala’s grooming centre started functioning in a room attached to the clinic. Though it was a novel concept then, Chitkala says she saw a lot of requirement in starting a facility like this. “There were many elderly people in the city who were finding it difficult to give a bath or take care of their dogs,” she says. Between herself and two other staff, she grooms about five dogs on an average every day.
Things have certainly changed from the time she started the grooming centre and Chitkala vouches for it. “From big, guard dogs or retrievers, more people are opting for toy breeds making grooming even more important,” she says.
It’s also interesting to note that Mysureans have started giving more importance to their pets. Taking them out to a resort or a wash and haircut is considered a treat for their furry friends and they do it often, mostly on special occasions like birthdays.
Pet boarding and social gatherings
Keeping up with these changing trends are animal-lovers who want to break the stereotypes about pet care and give the best facilities possible for the pets. The Woof Wagon (TWW) is a real game-changer when it comes to pet care in Mysuru.
Starting with a small vet clinic and grooming salon in Dattagalli in 2016, TWW has grown to include a resort exclusively for dogs in Kergalli from April 2017. That’s not all. TWW also has taken an initiative to create a unified Mysuru pet community.
“We curate regular events under the title of Mysuru Pet Social, which happens once a month on Sundays at Cheluvamba Park and Chewsticks and Chapathis, an event for families, which happens regularly at the resort,” says Dr. Suranjana Ganguly, a veterinarian who co-founded TWW with her husband and veterinarian Dr. Shantanu Kalambi and Seemanthini Channamallikarjuna, a dog lover. In the future, they are also planning to set up a pet-friendly cafe, an organic vegetable garden and a veterinary outreach programme in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and its surrounding villages along with Mariamma Charitable Trust.
Facilities like TWW are a big draw for pet-lovers in the city. According to Suranjana, they get a minimum of four boarders daily with the numbers going up to eight or nine on weekends. “It is often full during holidays,” she adds.
Thirty-two-year-old Raghavendra Singh, who has a golden retriever by name Atom, visits TWW often to avail various services from grooming to vet consultation and lodging. Raghavendra says, “They have been the best thing that has happened to Mysuru in terms of pet-related services. They have well-trained staff, good infrastructure and most of all, amazing people with beautiful heart who look after your pets and make them feel loved. Every time I go there, I feel confident and assured that my boy is in safe hands and will have a lovely time with them. And one more thing, my boy Atom loves them so much that whenever we go there and come back, he actually misses them a lot.”
Situated on a one-acre property, the kennels at TWW are spacious, well-ventilated and leash-free. They have 14 large rooms with an indoor and outdoor area, plus a very large open common play area. “We don’t force our animals to socialise and each one gets their own space that is customised as best as possible to their needs,” she says. That’s quite a treat for dogs!
How about a dip in the pool?
Every dog loves a good swim. If you are wondering where to take your fur baby for a pleasure dip, Bow Bow Pet Resort on Udbur-Sinduvalli Road has the perfect solution. They have a large swimming pool located in 14 guntas of land for recreation.
Other than the pool, the resort provides boarding facility as well. Forty-two-year-old Umesh Vijayaraman, who founded the resort says, “I started the facility because I found the kennels to be bad, infested places where the dogs were not taken care of well. I never used to leave my dogs there and would travel with them wherever I went. It’s not possible for everyone. Since I had this land, I decided to start a facility like this.” Umesh says the pet resort is a good place to hold birthday parties and other events for the pets.
Adoption is another area that organisations like Bow Bow and TWW focus on. They give advices on adoption and always have some dogs for adoption.
Plenty of hurdles to cross
While it is a beautiful thing to have spaces for your pets to enjoy in a city, the people behind these facilities do face a lot of challenges to make these ideas work. While Chitkala says handling dogs that come for grooming is quite a task and need able hands to manage it, it is breaking stereotypes about pets, pet care and vets that are daunting to TWW. “Most dogs do not behave the same way they behave at home. In a new surrounding, they tend to be a bit hostile. You need a lot of patience to groom them,” Chitkala says.
What does the future look like to them? Suranjana says, “We hope to educate people about the benefits of pets, both as companion animals and social beings and encourage a culture of outdoor fun with pets and family. We want Mysureans to have a space that combines three of the best stress-busters — dogs, countryside and good hospitality.” We hope they succeed in that.