Finding a fur-ever home
While the whole world was in coronavirus chaos, one thing seemed to spring to mind - new pets. Organisations like the SPCA reported a surge in adoptions as New Zealand went into lockdown in March this year. The townsfolk of Christchurch have shown huge support for this cause, with one, in particular, Jack from The Barkery.
Since The Barkery’s launch in 2019, Jack had a vision of a permanent adoptable dog cafe, from high attendance at their ‘Pup-Up’ events to support and resources from the pet business community. Now, after crowdfunding $50,000, they’re in the process of constructing New Zealand's first adoptable dog cafe, due to open in April 2021. Along with providing a completely dog-friendly dining venue, they aim to improve rescue dog adoption rates across New Zealand and connect Kiwi families with their new best friend.
We caught up with Jack to chat about his mahi with our furry friends, anthrozoology (the study of humans and other animals) and how he’s fostering friendships over flat whites.
Hi Jack, can you please tell us what motivated you to start The Barkery?
An absolute adoration, respect and love for dogs and an unrelenting desire to find homes for the dogs who need them! The evolution of mankind and dogs is amazing and we're still learning from our canine counterparts! I've always dreamed of working with animals and I love communication so it became a natural progression to help with dog adoption. I like to solve problems and help animals, and I guess we saw an opportunity to bring the rescue community together around a shared goal while creating a new experience for dog lovers. Dog people are amazing people and we have gained so much energy from seeing those smiling faces and wagging tails. Being a good dog parent and supporting those dogs less fortunate is a very rewarding experience.
Could you tell us what exactly it is that you do?
So the Barkery is best described as a dog community hub that supports the rescue community. Or an '*Adoptable* Dog Cafe' We do this by donating a percentage of profits back to our rescue partners, and allowing them to showcase adoptable dogs from the cafe in person or through signage (Or our digital channels)! Any exposure for adoptable dogs is good exposure, in a safe and controlled environment of course. Another way to describe what we do is as a Co-Working Space for the Dog Rescue Community. We want to support all the dogs in finding their fur-ever homes, and we are the middle ground to help do that. We redirect the love and affection we have for our own beloved pooches to the shelters and rescue dogs who need that loving and attention. Of course, you and pooch can get a snack/coffee/drink and enjoy lots of activities with the dogs, including a hireable off-leash park and enrichment areas.
Even though it’s still in its infancy, what's the hardest or most challenging part of running Barkery been so far?
It is definitely financing/fundraising - and this is exactly where we want to help. Let the rescues focus on what they're good at knowing there is a reliable, steady stream of support coming from the Barkery. Also having to let people know they were unsuccessful with an application or they may not be suitable, that’s always really hard and the last thing we want is to deter somebody from applying to adopt again. We always put the dogs best interests first, and having them come back to us actually makes the situation a lot worse than if we get the homing 100% right the first time.
On the flip-side, what's the most rewarding part of The Barkery?
Without a doubt the Happily Furever afters, and the rehabilitation journeys. Seeing the transformation of some of the dogs that have come into Dogwatch or Christchurch Bull Breed rescue has been so inspiring and simply amazing. From anxious nervous dogs to bubbly playful bouncy dogs - its a privilege to help them just be the dogs they were destined to be, all dogs deserve that chance. Of course, all the smiling faces and dogs we meet are pretty sweet too.
What does an average day or week look like in the life of The Barkery?
Weekly updates with our shelter partners on the dogs, updates on applications and progress. We learn who might need to get a little more exposure and we begin to craft messaging to our audience to help find the dogs home! At this stage, it has lots of admin and lots of planning. We volunteer weekly at Both Christchurch Bullbreed Rescue and Dogwatch. Ooohhh and we take lots and lots of photos! We're always on the pulse of enrichment ideas for dogs, training tips and trips and anthrozoology (The study of humans and other animals). There’s also the less fun things like cleaning up after the dogs, but that is essential.
How many animals have you supported in rehoming so far?
So far we have been a part of about 10 successful adoptions where interest stemmed from a conversation or post from The Barkery, and that's all we can hope for. We are looking to help rehome and expose AS MANY DOGS AS WE CAN!
Have you seen much change in the public interest in adopting a dog since you started?
We have actually! It is hard to quantify, but even general conversations and what we see online, maybe that's just the old digital algorithm doing its job, but we're confident the attitudes are changing and comprehension of this process is growing. We are excited to see the adoption statistics for 2020, to see if it's grown from 12% (Of owned dogs are adopted/rescued which is SMALL!)
If you could give some advice to people thinking about getting a pet, what would it be?
Please think of it from an unselfish perspective and ask the hard questions/do some mahi around the numbers. A dog for example typically lives for 15 years (we wish forever), and would likely cost about $1000+ per year. It's important to have that level of security in place so you don't find yourself in a sad situation or compromise the quality of life for the dog. Listen to your vets, research around diets and enrichment. We strongly encourage pet insurance! AND OF COURSE - look at a rescue/shelter as a first option where possible! Most animal rescues have an online application form that allows you to just register interest without committing to a specific animal at the time when the perfect dog suited to your needs pops up, you get notified! Rescuing an animal is one of the most rewarding things I've personally been a part of, and I know I'm not alone.
What does the future look like for The Barkery? And for pet adoption in general?
BUSY! It's hard to tell but we hope it contains lots of dog cuddles, lots of smiling faces, and an increase in dog adoption rates across NZ as a whole. We've always got work to do, and ideas to execute. The first step is Christchurch, and once we are settled here we will look beyond.
Keep pup-dated with The Barkery, opening April 2021