Animesh Katiyar, who owns the Fur Ball Story dog cafe in Gurgaon near New Delhi, says there has been a jump in demand for his services from young professionals, many of whom are now working from home.
The 27-year-old helps people find puppies to adopt, offers training for new owners and prepares pedigree and street pooches for animal-assisted therapy.
“A pet just helps a lot because they’re supposed to be providing unconditional love,” Katiyar said, adding that the number of calls for his services has jumped from one per day to seven in recent months.
One of Katiyar’s regular customers is Avani Naresh, 29, an IT business owner who had a lifelong fear of dogs.
Eager to overcome his phobia, he sought Katiyar’s help last year and slowly learnt to become comfortable around mutts.
When the pandemic hit, the cafe shut and Naresh — unable to have a pet as he splits his time between Delhi and Gurgaon — realised he missed the animals he used to run away from.
“A dog can be a big, big game-changer in terms of an emotional journey. A dog absorbs your entire stress. They understand… what you are going through,” Naresh told AFP.
“I think if I had a dog during the lockdown, I think my anxiety levels, my stress levels would have been to the minimum.”
by Archana Thiyagarajan with Glenda Kwek
PHOTOS BY MONEY SHARMA