Demand for dog services on P.E.I. spikes as COVID restrictions ease

·2 min read
P.E.I. pet-sitting businesses say they are seeing a jump in demand for dog sitters.  (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)
P.E.I. pet-sitting businesses say they are seeing a jump in demand for dog sitters. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)

Dog kennels on Prince Edward Island say they're seeing a jump in demand as pandemic restrictions ease and residents resume off-Island travel — for many, for the first time in two years.

"We've been crazy busy," said Bonnie Shave, the owner and operator at Eastern Dawn Kennels in Uigg. "It's a big sigh of relief."

Eastern Dawn Kennels offers grooming services, too, but their primary business is dog boarding.

"The past couple of years ... since COVID hit has been very bleak, to say the least. I mean, our business is based on people travelling," Shave said.

"Of course, we just haven't been travelling."

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

But now, business is booming — and after a quiet couple of years, it's a welcome shift.

"The moment actually when it changed, it was probably as soon as the chief public health officer said the word restrictions being lifted," said Shave.

"Our phone literally lit up with calls immediately. People were just so anxious to get moving."

'Business has doubled'

It's a similar story for Debbie Dyck with Urban Paw in Charlottetown, which offers dog walking and in-home dog sitting.

"My business has doubled in the past couple of months," said Dyck, who has been running the company for seven years.

"I didn't really expect it to be such a high demand.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

"Pet sitting since maybe December has ramped right up. We're fully booked, fully booked all year ... People are ready to go out in the world and experience life again — it's great."

More travel and COVID puppies

In addition to long-standing clients, Dyck has also seen an uptick in folks who bought dogs during the pandemic who now need the extra help.

"They thought, 'This is the perfect time to get a puppy because we're home, we can teach, we can train,'" she said.

"Now a lot of people are going back to work. So they need someone to come in and help the dogs and the puppies, and that's why we're here."

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

Dyck has a wait list of about 15 dogs and she's doubtful things will slow down anytime soon.

"It's overwhelming some days, especially with the wait list," she said. "But I love helping the people."

Back at Eastern Dawn Kennels, their schedule is also filling up fast.

"Most of our summer is fully booked — if not fully booked, near capacity. So that's good," said Shave.

"It's so good to see a lot of our regular old clients back and there's a ton of new COVID puppies as well."

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