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Pandemic is not the cat's meow for isolated, lonely dogs: expert

'As much as people are getting COVID fatigued, so are the animals, they need to have interactions with other dogs,' says owner of Coldwater pet centre

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many humans to be stuck in isolation for over a year now, and the same goes for dogs.

Pine Ridge Pet Centre Ltd. owner Paul Pobega says his dog lodging resort at 3040 Town Line, in Coldwater, was running strong for 18 years before the pandemic struck.

“We had a lot of clients who this was like their second home for their dogs. When people went on vacation or business out of town this was the go-to place,” Pobega said.

“We were full for about 95 percent of the year and we were booking about four to six weeks ahead for people who wanted their dogs to stay here, and now it’s gone the exact opposite way.”

The lack of people traveling and the frequency of people staying home with their pets during the pandemic has caused Pine Ridge Pet Centre Ltd. to run at just ten percent of its normal capacity for overnight programming. 

“If this would have happened in our first two or three years I would probably be going back to the bank and saying, ‘here you go’,” Pobega said.

“We have a little bit of support from the government, but it doesn’t cover everything. I think we will be OK, but not indefinitely.”

To try to spark some business and to help dogs get out of the house and moving again, Pobega created a new dog daycare program that offers curbside pick-up and drop-off for dogs.

Once dogs arrive at Pine Ridge Pet Centre Ltd., they spend the day outside on their one-third of an acre fenced-in property, playing and exercising with other dogs.

“As much as people are getting COVID fatigued, so are the animals; they need to have interactions with other dogs,” Pobega said.

“Having dogs at home and isolated all the time isn’t necessarily good, so having the daycare is an alternative to have dogs socialize and have them exercise as opposed to staying at home all the time and becoming COVID dogs.”

Pobega says he’s seen first-hand the effect of the pandemic on dogs.

“We have seen dogs recently come back after being away for a while and they have some regression in their attitudes and social skills with other dogs, and that’s because they haven’t been socialized with other dogs,” he said.

“The dogs get a lot of stimulation here by doing the routines and exercises that we program for them, and those sorts of things are so important right now," said Pobega, who is a CKC Licensed Sporting Dog Judge, a chairperson for the Labrador Retriever Club of Canada, and a vice-chairperson for Labrador Retriever Club of Ontario.

To book a dog daycare session for your four-legged friend or for more information, click here.