Heading out of town but can’t leave your pet behind? Here are some places that are homes away from home for them, writes Priyadarshini Paitandy.

Toto loves to play. So do Beauty, Elsa and Sunny. They run amok chasing each other; stumbling over dumb bells. And when you enter Pets 101 they leave behind their game, wag their tails, give you a friendly lick and hover around your ankles waiting for attention. Then they give your pet the once over and if he’s just as friendly, he becomes a part of the rambunctious canine gang.

Pets 101 offers accommodation for pets…a place where you can check them in for a weekend, week, month or even months when you are travelling. Yes, there’s separation anxiety — a lot like leaving your child in a boarding school. But rest assured Shravan Krishnan and Arunodaya Reddy will take care of your four-legged pal just like stern yet loving matrons.

“We started Pets 101 in January this year. I once left my dog with a kennel and it came back with parasites. That’s when I thought I should start something like this. Arunodaya already has a pet store. We got together and started this place,” says Shravan. The duo rented out a two-storeyed bungalow that’s sprawled across 5,000 sq. feet. As of now it can house 21 dogs. There are four rooms with kennels, each separated by a full length mesh curtain, ample play area and a spacious bathroom where they are scrubbed and groomed. “We never tie them here. They are let loose and we encourage them to socialise with other dogs. We also walk them three times a day,” says Shravan. There are CCTV cameras in each room so the “super nannies” can monitor everything the pets are up to. “We have had around 250 clients so far. Holiday seasons such as the months of April-May get busy,” he adds.

Prasanna Gopinath and Nirmiti Prassi who run Benzi Pet Stay, a homestay facility for dogs, whose owners are away, say, “For us every day is a busy day. Ever since we started in October last year, we have been occupied and haven’t taken a holiday.” Nirmiti, who works evening shifts, says, her husband Prasanna quit his fulltime job to be able to focus on the pets. He is with them 24/7. “Even when we sleep at night, our bedroom door is open so we can keep an eye on them. Some of them often end up jumping into our bed and curling up beside us,” says Nirmiti. Prasanna is undergoing training in dog behavioural correction and socialising and understands what the animals are saying. “It’s almost like they have a secret code between them. They can just look at each other and communicate,” laughs Nirmiti.

And how do these facilities deal with fussy clients, we bet there are a few? Shravan laughs, “Yes there are quite a few fussy ones. The most common request we get is that their pets are used to being fed and don’t eat from the bowl, so we feed the pets. But we have our methods so they can take it or leave it.” Prasanna agrees, “Once people leave their pets here, they have to follow our method. If a dog is overweight I put it on a diet. We do the cooking here and make different food for the dogs depending on their age and requirements.”

For those who don’t want to lose sight of their furry friends and take a break with them; there are hotels in the city that are pet friendly. The Westin allows you to bring them along and also provides them with a Heavenly bed of their own with some doggy delights at no extra cost. Park Hyatt too is indulgent and has a Paw at the Park Hyatt programme priced at Rs. 4,000. It features rooms with a dog bed, treats, water bowl, and toys. In addition owners can also order dog meals. 

Boriah Kumar, general manager, Vivanta by Taj-Fisherman’s Cove, says, “In a month we get at least five to eight people travelling with their dogs. We have various offerings that will give pets a great experience.” The amenities include brushes, baskets and chewies, customised pet menus and pet walkers on request, all priced at Rs. 2,000. While most hotels abroad have all these services and even over-the-top indulgences such as monogrammed pillows, doggy yoga classes, treadmills, we are just about starting out here. Finally a thought for man’s best friend. We’re sure this will ensure pet lovers get both — happy tails and happy tales.