“I must admit, on my first day at work, I was astounded to find the number of products there were for pets. I was just another curious onlooker as I found tooth brush, nail cutter, toothpaste and bed for dogs and cats.

Sample this – there are even diapers for pets. Initially I wondered who will ever buy these fancy stuff. But there are those who do.

I joined Spa Biotech’s Beaks n Paws a year ago and this is my first job. It has literally opened a new world to me. My mother raised hens and I have known people who had dogs. Sheds for animals is the only luxury I had seen until I came here. But I have always liked animals and after spending time here I want to own a pug now.

I am a graduate in Sociology and at one point was considering preparing for the PSC examinations. I was also toying with the idea of a job. That’s when a neighbour told me about the vacancy here. Finding myself in a totally new space, I had to start from scratch. For about three weeks I was taught everything by the other staff members. I start my day at 9.30 a.m. and go on till 5.30-6 p.m. I was moved to the Emerald mall outlet once we opened here.

The fact that we also sell veterinary medicines and vaccines apart from pet food and accessories appealed to me. I learnt a lot. But whenever I am in doubt I immediately call up my boss Satheesh and clarify. It is very important not to make mistakes, be it in the type of food or medicines for animals. Owners have their set of doubts too. I can understand that since most of these pet dogs are very expensive and animals cannot their problems the way we do.

Over the past year, I have learnt lot about dogs and their different breeds, so too cats. The moment I hear a new name, probably an imported breed, I immediately refer to the encyclopaedia kept open at the shop. On occasions, customers ask me if I own a dog, for I have a fair knowledge about them now.

I also see how much owners spend on their pets. Dog food is by far their most expensive buy and a 15 kg sack comes for Rs.6,000. I know most of our customers by name and I am also aware of the breed they have.

This job has given me a lot of confidence. My husband Vijayan, an auto driver, tells me I have changed a lot after I started working. Even my five-year-old son likes the fact that I work in a pet shop. When I went to his school to sign the progress report many asked me about my job. It appears my son talks a lot about the kind of stuff I handle in the shop.

The other day, when I was walking back home, a neighbour shared his dachshund’s health issues with me. I recommended the medicines we usually give for that particular ailment. The next day I told my boss too about the medicines I suggested. Though, at times, relatives tease me, I know I have learnt a lot being here.

(A weekly column on the men and women who make Kozhikode what it is)