The Telegraph
| Sunday, October 30, 2016 |

Graphiti

Diwali hideaways

Pet hotels across the country are offering care, comfort and healing for their furry clients to help them get through noisy Diwali nights, says Sarbani Sen

  • At Kuldeep Chauhan’s Pet Lover’s Hut in Delhi, dogs are engaged in hectic rounds of swimming so that they tire out and sleep soundly on Diwali night. Photo: Rupinder Sharma

Prada, a bright bow clipped between her ears, is all set to party. The two-and-a-half years old Shih Tzu will be joined by brother-sister duo, Koofy and Kini, Maltese breeds and others at the Kashika’s Pampered Paws, a pet hotel in Bosepukur Road, Calcutta. They’ll be celebrating a Lhasa Apso Coco’s seventh birthday — and escaping the maddening sounds of Diwali tonight.

This is just the right place for Prada who is thunderstorm-phobic and averse to loud sounds. Prada’s owner Ayotroyee Jana says that she gets back home happy after a stint at the hotel, something she noticed after last Diwali. “She used to get scared during Diwali. But not anymore. She stays cheerful and returns home happily after a few days with other dogs,” Jana says.

There’s a reason for this. The pets stay within the confines of the 1,000sqft air-conditioned room, listening to soothing music, shutting out the ear-shattering noise of crackers bursting across the city. “Pets get stressed out due to the excessive sounds of fireworks. The aim is to keep them away from it all. Tonight pets will be terrified due to all the noise,” says Kashika Arora, owner, Pampered Paws.

“Sometimes they are given aroma oil massages so that they sleep soundly,” Arora says. Pampered Paws can accommodate around 25 pets, and the hotel is always full on Diwali night.

  • Kashika Arora, owner of Pampered Paws in Calcutta, offers pets hour-long Reiki sessions to keep them calm on Diwali night. Photo: Subhendu Chaki

Owners want their pets safe this Diwali and kennels and ‘pet hotels’ are going out of their way to ensure that pets spend the festival of lights in peace even as their owners have a blast, literally.

Kuldeep Chauhan’s Pet Lover’s Hut in Chhatarpur in South Delhi is a favourite destination for pet lovers every Diwali. Chauhan says that he takes around 50 bookings on Diwali — and is full up this year too. “Many prefer to drop their pets here as it is quieter on Diwali. We also offer pick-up and drop-off facilities for pets if owners are too busy,” Chauhan says.

Dogs can get notoriously cranky when they have been left with strangers. Understanding the nature of different breeds of dogs is important, say the owners of the pet hotels. For instance, it’s advisable to keep small breeds like the Shih Tzu and the Maltese away from others. “We try to keep similar breeds in one group so that they feel comfortable,” Chauhan says.

  • In Bangalore, Yashodhara Hemchandra stays close to the pets scared of Diwali sounds at her Yashbans Kennels which also offers cosy, comfortable beds for pets. Photo: Jagadeesh NV

Chauhan’s farmhouse is spread over 2,000sqyards and has a swimming pool for dogs, while also offering other activities. “If the dogs swim a lot or play the whole day, they get very tired and sleep well. That’s a nice way of keeping them tension-free on Diwali night,” says Chauhan. Not taking any chances, there are earplugs too for the pets when the crackers are at their loudest.

Experts say that such measures are very important as many pets are extremely sensitive to sounds and undergo drastic behavioral changes after festivals like Diwali. Many pets get traumatised by the smoke, lights and sounds, while others may simply lose their appetite. It could be more serious in some cases. “I have come across cases of pets developing cardiac and respiratory problems. Even street dogs prefer to hide during Diwali,” says Dr Chandrakanta Chakraborty, Calcutta-based consultant veterinarian and surgeon.

  • Photo: Rupinder Sharma

Bangalore-based Yashbans Kennels is located deep inside a farmhouse, isolated from all the Diwali noise. On offer are cosy, comfortable beds and a huge playground. Nervous pets are sometimes given a medication called Melissa to calm them down. “Activities help to divert their minds from even the slightest noise of crackers, and the tablet keeps them slightly sedated,” says Yashodhara Hemchandra, owner, Yashbans Kennels.

  • At Pet Bytes in Delhi dogs are made comfortable by plugging their ears with cotton earplugs and wrapping their heads in mufflers

Scoopy Scrub is a pet grooming centre chain with 30 branches across India. It also runs a boarding centre called Pet Bytes in Dwarka and Neeti Bagh in Delhi. Sanjeev Kumar, the founder, says that he makes a note of the “specific habits” of the pets before taking them on board. At Pet Bytes, pets are made to wear cotton earplugs and soft mufflers to protect them from the Diwali-related noise.

These facilities come for a price depending on the breed of the dog. For instance, at Delhi’s Pet Lover’s Hut, an air-conditioned room with a meal comes for Rs 700 while  regular rooms cost Rs 500 per day. Yashbans in Bangalore charges Rs 600 for Shih Tzu, Spitz, Miniature Pinchers and Pugs while for bigger breeds like Labradors, Retrievers, German Shepherds and Dobermans, it costs anywhere between Rs 700 and Rs 800 per day and Pet Bytes charges between Rs 750 and Rs 1,200. At Kashika’s it’s about Rs 500 per day. The costs for Diwali night remain the same. 

So, whether you are travelling or staying at home for Diwali and you are worried about your pets, you can now have them looked after and cared for like babies during the festival.