It was Sunday, the day Boris the Schnauzer took a longer walk. I had told him that we were to go to Ayala Vertis North because it was National Therapy Day. And as a pet mom I was looking forward to meeting the new Dr. Dogs, in the hope that maybe Boris could become a doctor, too.
Off to the mall we went because the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) was to launch its Pet Café, and for the event, Doctor Dogs and their humans would be there to meet and greet customers. It was also a celebration as it was PAWS’ very first face-to-face event since the lockdown in 2020.
The launching of PAWS Pet Café was a big hit for mall goers, who got the chance to play with PAWS’ therapy dogs. After they enjoyed their snacks, the guests got to sing the Doctor Dog song led by PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera.
“We want to develop an awareness of PAWS’ Doctor Dog program,” she said. “The PAWS Pet Café here in Ayala Malls Vertis North will become a place where people can learn about the importance of truly caring for furry friends.”
There were giggles all around as the kids tried to copy the movement of the bushy wagging tail of Dr. Ryder (a Golden Retriever) and Dr. Chloe (an aspin and one of the newest Doctor Dogs). Some children pointed out that Dr. Henri, a Corgi, did not have the long, waggly tail referred to in the Doctor Dog action song.
Boris was his curious self, as he wandered and sniffed around. And even if the café had a limited capacity for everyone’s safety, many of the guests stayed for hours. Not getting enough of his fellow canines, Boris stayed on to sniff about and learn what it means to be a Doctor Dog.
Dr. Daisy, the smallest in the bunch, was a favorite among kids. New Doctor Dog Lucas was for the shyer bunch of café visitors who wanted to hang out with a laidback dog. Dr. Dong-Dong and Dr. Yan-Yan (named after celebrity couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera-Dantes) were more than willing to give autographs as they chilled and sleepily said hello to everyone from their comfortable Dogs and More bed, one of the sponsors of the event.
Dr. Chestnut, Dr. Bailey, Dr. Penny, Dr. Caramel, Dr. Noah, Dr. Kobe and even “interns” Twister and Mira showed café patrons that, true to the motto of the Doctor Dog Program, love is, indeed, the best medicine.
Guests got a unique souvenir of their time with the Doctor Dogs in the form of their “autographs”—printed Rx pads that prescribed “one hug and one kiss a day,” signed by each Doctor Dog.
The photo exhibit outside the PAWS Pet Café presented highlights of the Doctor Dog Program’s remarkable work for the past 25 years in the Philippines. Those who are familiar with the program were misty-eyed as they remembered the furry doctors in the photos who have already passed on.
Animal lovers also met some of PAWS’ adoptable dogs, who were also at the pet café. The shelter dogs got their fair share of pats, belly rubs and selfies, while some enjoyed a cool afternoon siesta in the air-conditioned venue.
PAWS is hoping that the inquiries about them will eventually translate to successful adoptions. PAWS does not allow same-day adoptions because part of the adoption process includes background checks, an interview with their adoption counselors and at least two more meet-the-dog sessions on separate dates.
As everyone eases back into the new normal, these hardworking therapy dogs look forward to being of service once again to those that need them the most. The PAWS Pet Café event was a fitting welcome-back party for the four-legged doctors with purple bandanas. Their “fans” welcomed them with open arms, ready for more doses of furry therapy and they even helped raise awareness about pet adoptions.
On the drive home Boris was quiet, perhaps wondering if one day, he too would become a Doctor Dog. For now, the puppy in him was pooped and he was soon drifting off into slumber land.