It all started in 2016 when the director of Symbiosis Law School, Noida, brought two Labradors into the campus. The attendance of students went up, students staying away from their families seemed to cope better and were far less homesick and the general happiness quotient in college displayed a heartening improvement.
Animesh Katiyar, one of the founders of Fur Ball Story, was a student during that time and says, “Until then I never loved dogs; I was rather indifferent towards them. Interacting with those two furry creatures changed it all for me. I saw so much change in most people with the dogs being on campus. My friends and I would go to college just so that we could spend some time playing and petting the dogs.”
Fur Ball Story is the brainchild of Srishti Sharma, Arushi Dixit and Animesh Katiyar. It was the experience in college that sowed the entrepreneurial seed in Animesh’s mind.
“Seeing the change two dogs could bring about in college, I was sure that we could work with these animals and help many more people. That is when we started researching about therapy dogs.”
In December 2016, this venture kick-started its journey with three dogs and a six member team. The Furry Army as they are called comprises Muffin, a labrador; Angel, a golden retriever and Cocoa, the shih tzu. These dogs have been adopted and are trained in pet therapy by Varun Anand.
The West has been a lot more welcoming of pets into their space, be it their workplace or otherwise. Google, Amazon, Paypal are some of the organisations internationally that get dogs into their workspaces.
The idea is just about catching up in India. Nagarro was the first IT company where Fur Ball Story went with the dogs. “My brother-in-law is part of this (IT) sector and works for more than 12 to 14 hours a day. The burnout rate is very high and I realised that they have no time for anything other than work. These dogs come into your workspace and liven everything up.” The team has also visited MakeMyTrip and Sequoia Capital, among other offices in Delhi-NCR.
Recounting an incident from Sequoia Capital, Animesh says, “I remember meeting a person who was completely against the idea of getting the dogs into their workspace. Eventually after spending some time with Muffin and Angel, he not only warmed up to them but also started enjoying their company. I met him recently at another event and the transformation was amazing to watch.”
The Fur Ball Story is now looking to expand into other cities as well. “We get a lot of query from Mumbai. We intend to start something there soon. In Gurgaon, we will soon have a physical presence and will be conducting sessions in the therapy centre there as well.”
People who have been diagnosed to have clinical depression, children who are on the autism spectrum will be greatly benefitted by these sessions.
There has been some criticism too, and they have also been asked to include indie breeds among their therapy dogs. Explaining why this is not feasible, Animesh says, “Therapy dogs have to have a certain kind of temperament. We would love to work with all dogs but unfortunately that is not something that will work for us.”
So if you are in Delhi-NCR and looking for an instant mood booster, call the furry team over to indulge in some pet therapy. They can be reached at +91-9811266945 or www.furballstory.com