I live with six dogs and two cats. They are and have been my companions throughout these delicate times. And, although I do have a helper to look after the dogs when I have to be at work, for the most part we have been together sharing a room during the daytime and sleeping together at night. That's what it’s like when you live by your lonesome.
I have gotten used to them and they have had no choice but to get used to me. We do almost all things together because even when I enter the bathroom they want to be there, too.
I share with them how my day has gone and they listen attentively — there is no judging in my home.
But, when the time comes for grooming, shots, an allergy here and there — which was common during ECQ — I make sure that I am able to get a vet or groomer to see them.
But, sadly during the ECQ and now even during this GCQ, going to the vet has been a tedious chore. And believe me, I was getting lots of texts from concerned “pawrents” as to how I was coping during the lockdown and where I could call for vet services.
So, for all of you pawrents that have had problems like me, welcome to this new site set up by three Coyiuto sisters Stenie, Sofia and Young Star editor Mae and a friend Dana Uy that promises to develop a community where all pawrents are welcome, services are available, and products are, too.
The three sisters and Dana are pet lovers to the core who understand how important is it to set up a site that is credible and that only recommends products and services they would use themselves. That is what pet love is all about, right? They are in the final stages of setting up Pawplife and plan to launch in the third week of November. Just in time to get our fur babies all decked for the holidays.
I took some time to listen to them growl about what they have set up. Read on, “hoomans,” as to what the Pawplife founders have to say.
PHILIPPINE STAR: How did you come up with the name?
MAE COYIUTO: When the four of us (Stenie, Sofia, Dana Uy and I) were first figuring out the concept, we compiled a list of all the reasons we wanted to start this community. We were just trying to figure out cute names and puns that would go with pets and dogs.
We then started talking about how this year felt like a pause and that pets were people’s one source of relief; the word “pause” sort of clicked to be a pun for “paws.” Then with our motivations to support pet parents’ lives, we thought, why not do something with Paws and Life? More brainstorming later and we settled with Pawplife because it sounded catchier!
Has building a community of all things “pet” always been something that you have wanted to do, and why? Do you think that the need for this site is more important now during this pandemic?
STENIE COYIUTO-TAY: It’s actually something that we had been thinking about but finalized a few weeks into the pandemic. My husband Joseph is the co-founder of a facilities management software company called Inventi. Dana and I, being both involved with Inventi and our furniture interests would have meetings, and bond over our fur babies. It was a light-bulb moment, to create a pet platform ourselves using the same skill sets.
As pet parents, we were facing the same challenges. What products are best for them? How do we consult a vet during the pandemic? Who are the best trainers out there? How do we take care of an aging pet, and what to do should our beloved pet pass away?
DANA UY: What we have in common is that we all want what’s best for our fur babies. We envision Pawplife to be a digital community where we hope to answer these questions and make pet parenting easier and happier.
I often get asked questions like how do you cope with the shots for your pets, or do you know a vet that does home service — is this among the concerns your site will answer?
STENIE: Yes. What we noticed, especially during the past months, is that when people get new puppies, there is a lot of information about pets on the web, but no one clear resource center or community. We want to give people access to precise, clear-cut, up-to-date, and useful information.
Can you recommend a groomer who does home service, is another question I am often asked. Will your site be able to answer that?
STENIE: Yes, definitely. We personally worked with various groomers and have collated experiences of friends with pets whose opinions we value. So we will have vetted groomers (both online, and home service) on our site.
Will you be able to screen vets, in particular, so that your community can deal with "qualified" vets?
STENIE: Yes, in line with our pet community’s vision of “pet parenting made happy,” we will be putting up vet online consults and referrals to qualified vets. Further along the line, we also plan to offer pet insurance, which will address the growing cost of pet hospitalization and vet bills.
Have dogs always been a part of your family life?
SOFIA COYIUTO: Growing up, we usually had at least five to six dogs at a time, but they were usually family dogs. My life changed forever when my mom surprised me with a Pomeranian puppy for my 10th birthday. For the first time, I had my very own baby.
Stenie, being the bossy big sister that she is, told me I should name my puppy “Christmas.” I rolled my eyes at her thinking it was a joke, but she was dead serious. Despite my complaints, the name stuck. Christmas started my love affair with Pomeranians. I remember the day I moved to the US for college. I was extremely determined not to cry, but it only took one look at my dogs for the floodgates to open. Christmas, Joey (who Stenie named after Friends’ Joey Tribbiani), Evo, Colby and Missy are all in doggy heaven now, but I carry all of them with me still.
DANA: As a kid, I remember begging my parents to get me a dog, but they did not think I could handle the responsibilities. Until about 10 years ago, our cousin gave Toffee and Tashi to me and my sister. They were three-month-old Shih-Tzus then, and we did not realize that we were in for a ride. They were a lot of work, but I would not trade them for the world. Then came Specter, he was also a gift from my best friend, Bea. He is the biggest among them, but he will always be the baby of the group.
Could you share how many dogs you have and what it has been like to live with them all during the pandemic?
SOFIA: I currently have Béy, a seven-year-old Samoyed, and Maddie, a one-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Béy is the absolute love of my life. I got her when I moved back from Los Angeles in 2014. I got a call from my cousin Bea if I wanted to visit Samoyed puppies in Antipolo. I fell in love with Béy the moment I met her. She’s been my rock through difficult times in my life, like when I lost my Pomeranian, Missy, back in 2017.
Béy has been my greatest comfort throughout this pandemic. Mae always jokingly tells us to “get a room” because of how often I shower Béy with hugs and kisses. As with everyone this year, I’ve had my moments, but having Béy right beside me all day every day gives me a sense of calm that everything will turn out okay.
Maddie, on the other hand, has unofficially become Mae’s baby. Whenever I find Maddie missing from my room, I know she’s probably somewhere in the house with my sister.
MAE: When my sister told me she was getting a new dog last year and was calling her Maddie, I was actually on the fence with the name because one of my good friends from college is named Maddie. But right now, I love that I have two really special Maddies in my life.
Maddie (the dog) and I started bonding when I’d bring her to the room where I’d work. She’d go around in circles while I was on my computer and when she wants me to carry her, she’ll perch her paws up on the side of my chair. Sometimes, she’d even lie down on my lap while I’m typing. I think Cavaliers are really known to be lap dogs, so sometimes she’d nuzzle in my arms and fall asleep. Working from home and seeing everyone virtually can feel so isolating, so I’m really grateful I have her as my work buddy.
DANA: I think one of the best things about spending more time with them now is that we were able to get to know them really well. It’s a lot of fun seeing their different personalities, and it makes you realize that they are a lot like humans, too. Dogs have their way of making us feel loved, and I can only hope that they know how much we love them, too.
I am often asked if dogs or cats can get coronavirus. Can they?
Dogs and cats can be infected with the COVID-19 virus, but there has been little to no evidence of transmission from animals to humans. There has been evidence that cats are more susceptible to COVID-19, but vets say that this is still not a cause for alarm. However, the virus can technically still be found on the fur of our furry friends. Thus, during this period, it is recommended for owners to clean their pets after coming from outside.
Do you think that the website will cater more to the younger set of pet owners, or is it for anyone who has a pet?
We’re planning for our site to cater to anyone who identifies as a pet lover, honestly! But while we don’t aim for a specific market, we want to pattern our platform after the evolving trends currently happening. Like with how social media and sites nowadays make information more accessible, we want to do the same with Pawplife. The great thing with tech, too, is how we have more tools to build communities online and we’d love Pawplife to also be a digital community where people feel less alone.
The founders can be reached at Instagram @pawplife, www.pawplife.ph or email [email protected].