Six years ago, Kaya Kristina of Toronto, Canada, noticed that a lot of the pups leaving the dog park next to her house looked hot, tired, and thirsty.
As a pet parent herself, Kaya took it upon herself to put out a bowl of water with a note that read, “For thirsty dogs.” Soon, her neighbors discovered the bowl and started stopping by to say hi. One person even sent her a cute thank-you note!
“One day, I got a card from someone in my mailbox,” Kaya said. “It had a pic of their dog on the front and it was written from the point of view of the dog saying thank you for the water. I put the pic up on my fridge and it made me really happy.”
So when boredom set in during the novel coronavirus pandemic lockdowns in her city, Kaya took her kindness up a notch.
She designated her own dog, Molly Meatlog, as the manager of High Park’s newest and hottest doggy cafe, which she dubbed StarPups Coffee.
Kaya bagged up individual treat bags and wrote out a little menu. She provided regular Milk-Bones along with some all-natural snacks made in Canada.
When the dogs and their parents saw what she’d done, they started coming around every day. That’s when Kaya realized how lonely other people must have been feeling, particularly those who only have their pets for company. Luckily, the dog cafe became a perfect way to interact with others in a safe, socially distanced way!
“It was so cute seeing the dogs go by and pulling their owners to my house to go get a snack,” Kaya said.
The dog mom started an Instagram for all “The Pups of High Park” and encouraged her neighbors to share pictures of their dogs enjoying the cafe.
The project became a welcome diversion during a difficult time, and Kaya looked forward to seeing new pups wander by every day.
A few months into the lockdowns, StarPups hit a big snag. Someone had come along in the middle of the night and stolen everything, right down to the last water bowl. Devastated, Kaya shared the bad news on Instagram.
To her surprise, all of her newfound friends in her community shared her outrage and vowed to help her rebuild!
“That evening, when I got home, my mailbox was full of cards, notes, photos of people’s dogs, Pet Valu gift cards, and even a sweet drawing of my dog,” Kaya said. “It turned out to be a good thing, because I had felt so isolated all year with COVID, and now I felt like I had an army of friends.”
With their help, Kaya rebuilt StarPups bigger and better than before! She’s even hoping to create a more permanent shelter for her guests. For now, the dogs are back to enjoying treats and water in their very own cafe. They even had a costume contest and special treats for Halloween.
This is such a fantastic idea! We’re wishing StarPups all the best as Kaya continues to expand and build bridges in her neighborhood!
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