Pandemic brings ‘pet parents’ closer to their furry extended family

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One of the positives of the Covid-induced precipitous drop in business for five-star hotels was to make some of them allow pets — a no-no previously — into their rooms. That was one way they could get ‘pet parents’ who opted for staycations not to miss out on ‘paw time’.

Seeing the obvious benefits of making this concession, the hotels that rolled out the red carpet for pets have continued with the practice. One of them is a New Delhi landmark, Ambassador New Delhi, now an IHCL SeleQtions hotel, and it was here that a host of pet parents gathered with their furry friends for a ‘pet summit’ on Sunday evening.

The ‘informal’ pet show, which saw 25 different breeds of dogs, from Rottweilers to Beagles, walking the ramp and frolicking with each other, came at the end of a B2B conclave of companies in the business of providing for the myriad needs of pets.

“After two years of on-and-off lockdowns, it is a great experience to move out with pets and let them play in the open,” Niharika Sachdeva, a businesswoman, said, sharing the relief that pet parents are experiencing seeing their favourites moving out of their cloistered confines. Sachdeva had come to the pet show with Ace, her Labrador aged a year and half.

Speaking for many pet parents like her, Sachdeva said: “Such an event for dogs is happening after a very long time. It is good because we get to know about new products and for the dogs, it’s a change of routine and they get to see so many other dogs and make friends. I notice that most of them are friendly pets. None of them are ferocious or difficult to handle.”

She added that she interacted with a vet and a dog instructor, and gained knowledge about keeping pets in a proper way.

For Geetika Arora, there could be nothing better than spending a Sunday evening playing with her Gabru, a Shih Tzu, and seeing him run after his new-found friends. And for Pooja Nigam, a jewellery store owner, who came with her 20-month-old Beagle, Muffin, it was good to know that she could go on a vacation without agonising about where to keep her pet.

“The most important issue faced by pet parents is to travel with their pets and stay with them,” Nigam said. “I think pet-friendly hotels solve this problem to a great extent.”

Commenting on the trend, Sheetal Singh, General Manager, Ambassador New Delhi, said she could empathise with pet parents as she herself was one for quite a long time (until she lost him recently).

“The idea of a vacation with your pet seems to be most exciting,” Singh said. “Our staff is trained to handle different breeds.” She added that during the last two waves of Covid-19, more and more people were turning to pets for emotional sustenance.

The pandemic also brought to light the challenge of pets losing their ‘parents’ to Covid-19, or being separated from them as a result of all kinds of travel restrictions. Life for strays became more difficult than ever, for people could not step out of their homes in those lockdown days to feed them.

Ambarish Sikarwar, Business Head of the online pet care store, Zigly, one of the speakers at the B2B conclave, said: “We are continually working towards the adoption of stray dogs and motivating more and more people to be part of this campaign.” He added: “During the Covid lockdowns, many pets were left alone, so we are trying to connect the pets in need with the pet parents.”

And as they connect, people are happily changing their daily routines for the new furry members of their families. Seen with her two-month-old German Shepherd, Daara, Akshita Kapoor said: “We have changed our entire routine for him. We make sure that either my husband or I stay at home with him. Pets need this kind of care and attention.”

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