A year ago we welcomed Kiki home – our 3 month old golden retriever girl. Both my husband and I have grown up in homes with dogs and really missed having them around here in Delhi. And so we were thrilled to have this ball of fur as part of the family.

The journey of being a pet parent has been magical – the joy of a young puppy bouncing around, the time where you are still figuring out the name, to the first time she responds to her name, discovering what she likes to eat and which one is her favourite toy, noticing the slight difference in her interactions with different members of the family (Kiki would be a wild child the moment Vijay got home and surprisingly gentle and lady like when she met someone for the first time, well only for the first 5 minutes!). The list is endless, the first car ride, the day she decided to be potty trained, the park visits, the first time she swam (we were jumping with pride!) But there was also anxiety, “where do we leave her when traveling?”, or more often “should I leave her alone for an hour while I grab a coffee with Mansi?”, “let me check with Mom if I can drop her for the evening since we have a friend’s birthday to attend” Oh and we do have help at home. Yet, every pet parent feels this, it’s that look on Kiki’s face that’s always saying “take me along”. I think dogs are born with the talent to make this most heart wrenching face – the ‘take me along’ face. Hope in their eyes and excitement in their body language while they’re still expecting to come along. Followed by cutely confused face when you don’t pick up their leash, to droopy eyed, wet nosed nudges to mollycoddle you to reconsider.

So we gave in and started taking her along. From checking with a couple of cafes close by if they allow house broken pets, to doing some research online and finding places such as Café Canine, from planning house parties so Kiki could join in, to taking a holiday at a family homestay so we could all go together. It sounds tedious? It’s not. It’s not too much planning, not too much research once you get the hang of it. The joy surely outweighs any extra effort. And it’s heart warming, in a way you share the joys of having a pet with total strangers. I’m sure a lot of you know the feeling 🙂 People smile at you when they see you with your pet, some even walk up to you to play with your baby, the family at the homestay was pampering Kiki more than their own dog, Kiki found a friend forever in Jackson (we’ve gone back more than once!).

And now that we got a handle on doing things ‘pets included’, (not to mention my not wanting to sell fast(read slow) moving consumer goods for the rest of my life), we spoke to some pet families to see if they faced similar dilemmas and had similar desires. Not surprising – you ask a pet parent “what’s the biggest problem you face being a pet family?” They all have the same answer. Try it.

Voila – CollarFolk was born.

It’s been a journey full of learning and new experiences. We have travelled with Kiki to innumerable holiday destinations to get first-hand experience and create a database of resorts, hotels and homestays that are genuinely pet friendly. We have interacted with families and individuals running these properties and learnt that many of them have grown up in homes with pets and some even have pets at their properties. We have encountered cases where because of breakdown or long journeys overnight stops along the highway had to be found where pets can be allowed. We have been asked to create travel checklists for taking a road trip with one’s pet and we have also been asked to find a pet friendly lodging when the pet in question was a baby monitor lizard.

If I may say so, travelling with your pet is very similar to travelling with a young child, especially for first time travellers. There is a certain amount of anxiety and numerous questions. We intend allaying this anxiety and answering every question. The idea behind CollarFolk is for you to have a great holiday with your pet while we do the necessary background work.

Pet friendly holidays is a first step in ‘taking them along’.