“A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.”
-John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog
Dogs have not only offered us love and affection but have also worked side-by-side with humans for centuries. They not only help their owners to relax, but also take their attention away from all the problems and worries. Dogs decrease the feelings of loneliness and isolation by providing companionship to all generations. It’s also been proved that children who grow up with dogs have higher self-esteem and are less susceptible to allergies. With unconditional love, they give us a sense of empowerment that makes us feel better about ourselves.
As a responsible pet owner, we certainly should give back our love to them and ensure all their needs are met. But there are times when we have to leave them alone. Most of the pet owners aren’t oblivious to the barbaric treatment of dogs in boarding facilities. Some even go the extent of chaining them round the clock and dumping them in unhygienic, gloomy rooms.
In situations like these, Waggle.in comes to the rescue! Launched in Feb 2013, Waggle is an online community of dog lovers that helps dog owners to connect with dog lovers to look after their dogs for the duration of the dog owners’ travel. In this way, the dogs get individual care and attention just like in their homes.
Some of the hosts have dogs at present while others have had dogs earlier, but can’t keep one now. So through Waggle, dog lovers get the opportunity to enjoy having dogs for a short while.
Waggle.in was founded by Arjun Mathai and his wife, Samira Abraham. “Although Sam has been a dog lover all her life, I only realized the joy of owning a dog after we got our little fur ball, Zoe. When we had to travel in October 2012, we left Zoe with one of the boarding facilities in Bangalore. We were extremely unhappy with the service and we knew that if we wanted to travel again, it was possible only if we found a better home for her while we were away. We were sure that there were more people who were facing similar problems. We bounced the idea off a few people and decided to go ahead with it.” said Arjun.
The hosts that sign up on the site are verified to ensure that they are genuine dog lovers and are capable of providing the best care for the visiting dogs. Customers can search for hosts on the site’s portal and view details about each host. If the customer likes a host, they can send the host a reservation request.
When the host gets a request from a customer, they can view details about the customer and their dogs. If the host is not sure about the dog, they can request for a pre-visit. Once the host and the customer have agreed, the customer confirms the reservation on the site and the hosting gets underway. Waggle continues to support the host throughout each hosting with any help they need.
The site charges a commission on top of what each host charges the customers. This helps them to keep the community running and provide consistent quality levels of services. They are also considering other services which might provide assistance to dog lovers.
Since their launch with only 3 hosts, they have grown to around 25 hosts in Bangalore alone. Also, they have seen a steady increase in the number of users signing up to use their services. As of today, they have hosted close to 40 dogs (including a few repeat customers) and close to 125 days of hosting. Waggle continues to receive anywhere between 5 to 10 requests every week. They are also looking forward to launch Waggle in all the major cities by the end of the year.
When it comes to promotion, they have chosen to focus more on word-of-mouth communication rather than creating a hype. “We rely a lot on our customers to spread the word. We are also present on social media sites and we periodically run online ad campaigns on search engines and social media sites. As we expand into other cities, we also plan on doing offline ad campaigns to increase our presence on these sites.” said Arjun.
However their biggest hurdle has been to familiarize people with the concept of home dog boarding. Since the concept is new in India, most of the customers were initially sceptical of leaving their dog with someone else. As more customers started using the service, they were able to overcome this. There is also a review system on the site which helps new customers view the feedback of other customers with each host.
If your dog is an integral part of your family, Waggle will undoubtedly help you to find a safe and comfortable home for your dog when you travel. You dog will have a barking holiday while you travel in peace!