When a guy gives his wife a dog as a wedding present, he’s either in dire need of a lesson in romance or he’s a true dog lover.
For Uzair Bhatti, it is the latter. And, luckily for him, his wife shares his love for dogs. What began for them as a first date watching 101 Dalmatians and exchanging dog stories, quickly escalated to marriage and was soon cemented by the birth of Pampered Paws Pakistan.
Dubbed the ‘dog whisperer’, Bhatti is almost always met with wagging tails when he makes house calls to groom dogs. The 24-year-old newly-married couple began their startup this March in Karachi with Bhatti doing the actual grooming while his wife, Aneela Shaikh, handles the marketing and business aspect.
It’s a unique concept to visit pets instead of having them come to the groomer. So, how did the duo come up with the idea? “We realised there were no real trained groomers who do house calls. A dog is most comfortable in its own surrounding and environment. Grooming can be a stressful process for a dog and trips to the vet can induce fear in even the bravest of canines. By coming to the dog instead of taking him or her out of their home, we ensure the dog is more comfortable and relaxed as opposed to frightened and worried,” Aneela Shaikh said while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Bhatti brings his experience of working part-time for the UK Kennel Club to the business and on average, grooms up to three dogs a day. So far Facebook and word of mouth has played an important role in how Pampered Paws gets customers. “We keep a bunch of flyers with us in the car but honestly just use those as an excuse to go up to and play with random dogs we see being walked on the streets,” Shaikh shares.
So far, Bhatti has not met a single dog that hasn’t taken an instant liking to him. “Our friends and family all call Uzair the dog whisperer because we’ve never met a dog that has not taken to him, to the point where even their owners become jealous sometimes! Uzair’s been grooming all our friends’ and families dogs simply as a hobby and because despite his best efforts I won’t let him adopt 50 doggies of our own,” Shaikh said.
However, dog grooming isn’t always fun, especially in a country like Pakistan which is not known for being animal-loving. “We have seen dogs in terrible condition, some not bathed for months. We’ve seen white dogs whose fur has turned black because of the sheer volume of ticks and fleas on them. Dogs that are only kept for breeding purposes who are shown virtually no love.”
The couple offers a 20% discount for dogs who are in need of a rescue. They’ve looked after many that were tied up and used as target practice, or had had their tails cut off. “It is very disheartening and sometimes it seems all hope is lost, but starting Pampered Paws Pakistan has given us a platform to help so many dogs in a way we would not have been able to before, and that keeps us going. It’s all worth it if we can make even one dog feel that not all humans are bad.”
Being around dogs is what makes Bhatti happy, and that’s what makes his wife happy. “He loves being around dogs of all breeds and they seem to equally love being around him. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life so dog grooming seemed the natural choice. I’ve never seen him happier,” his wife shares.
Their overall grooming package, which includes, shampoo, conditioner, combing/brushing, blow dry, nail clipping, ear cleansing, amounts to Rs2,500.