As we struggle to find our way to the Nandham Industrial Estate, located on the Marol-Maroshi Road, we weren’t sure what the new pet boarding facility called Pawfect would be like. The estate is comparatively quiet unlike the congested road outside. Towards the end of the large complex, a small door sprayed with graffiti grabs the eye. As we enter, it is love at first sight. The eye-to-eye contact between a large, furry, eight-year-old St Bernard and us lasts a few seconds before he decides to attempt the regal walk towards us. We resist a strong urge to give him a squishy hug. “That’s Rooney, he comes here for day care,” says a smiling Manoj Yadav, who is one of the four attendants who take care of the dogs. Managing to take our eyes off the calm and composed Rooney, we looked around. The bright walls of the 1,400 sq feet space are painted in yellow and pink with illustrations all over them. There are toys of all kinds for both cats and dogs and a small slide sat in the centre of the room.
Nikarika Sekhri with Rooney (right) and Zooey (left); the spacious play area at Pawfect. Pics/ Sayyed Sameer Abedi
As we settle down next to Rooney, he slumps further and gets into snooze mode. Moments later, the door opens and a spirited little golden retriever runs through it, making us spring to our feet. She jumps straight up, reaching for our shoulder with her paws. “Zooey is just two years old. She wants to play all the time,” laughs Niharika Sekhri, owner Pawfect. “I got delayed because I had to pick her up. We offer a pick-and-drop facility for pets,” she adds.
An animal behaviourist from Nash Academy of Animal Arts USA, Sekhri began to work with vets and assist them eight years ago. “I decided that I wanted to study animal behaviour and grooming instead of pursuing an MBA. I got married and returned to India. Once I was back, I realised that the pet industry here is disorganised. Personally, I didn’t like the kind of places that were available for the boarding of pets. I worked with a few vets and started home boarding. When I looked for a space to start this, most centres were expensive. In residential areas, space was restricted, and people had a problem with the barking.
Hasti and Masti step out when the dogs are taken out for their walks
The industrial gala was in a bad shape. We cleaned it and tried to make it cheerful,” shared Sekhri as she walked us through the air-conditioned space. In two five feet long and six feet wide cages kept on a side, we spotted Hasti and Masti, two, two-month old kittens. “The cats have to be caged. When the dogs go out on their walks in the evening we bring them out so they can run and play,” Sekhri explains.
A birthday cake at Pawfect
The boarding facility can have up to 20 dogs at a time; in fact some dogs have stayed for a month, as well. “There have been pet parents who have gone to America for a month and left the pets with us. They come in for two-three days at first so that they can familiarise themselves. We ask them to fill a form with details about their food; the vets they visit and other information. We have a vet who visits daily. I also offer home-cooked food like chicken and rice, dahlia and oats along with packaged pet food, depending on the pet’s food habits. I’m here all day and come in at night too to give them their meals. One of my staff members stays here all night,” said Sekhri as we tried to stop a wheeling Zooey.
All the love
Sekhri who has trained in grooming and has all the necessary equipment gives pets who are at the boarding for over a week, a free spa service. You can also book the premises to throw your pet a birthday bash, complete with fun activities, music, paw shaped cup cakes and a doogie birthday cake. “We will soon have day camps where people can come on weekends and spend the day with their pets. During the rains outdoor options get limited so this will be a good alternative,” says Sekhri.
“Pet parents ask me to regularly update them with photos of how their pet is doing, while they are away. We will also start CCTV surveillance and get an app in place where pet parents can see what their pets are up to from wherever they are. We are awaiting some funding to be able to start that service,” she adds, as she walks into her cabin to meet a pet parent, who has dropped by for an enquiry.
By now, and despite all the activity around them, Zooey and Rooney have fallen asleep. Life is good.
At: 1 Nandham Estate, Marol Maroshi Road, Marol, Andheri (E).
Cost: Rs 500 to Rs 800 per day (depending on the breed)