Friday, August 18, 2017

Myanmar’s first Doggy Café

Having my own pet has been a dream of mine, ever since the day I started loving dogs but I never got the chance to have a furry, four-legged companion because my parents don’t love dogs. Actually, they don’t want any pets in their house. If I – by some miracle – could have a dog, my parents would not take care of it when I’m not home.

A handful of customers at JB Pet Café interact with a few of the café’s furry residents. Aung Khant / The Myanmar TimesA handful of customers at JB Pet Café interact with a few of the café’s furry residents. Aung Khant / The Myanmar Times

When I see other dogs on the street or my friends’ pets, I rush towards them and deliver a combo of hugs kisses while I play with them. This has become my routine – and hobby – when I see a dog, I can’t resist petting them even if their fur and slobber sticks onto my clothes.

Last month, I saw a popular pet shop in Myanmar had posted on their Facebook page that they will open Myanmar’s first ‘Doggy Café’. I was suddenly overcome with unbridled excitement about the news. A few days after the announcement of the Doggy Cafe, they had a soft opening on June 17 and 18. I booked in advance to get in on the first soft opening and luckily I got in.

It was on a Saturday, the sky hung heavy with the weight of pregnant grey clouds as I walked with purpose towards the soft opening. I arrived there at 2:30 pm, and met with the owners who gave me an explanation about the café.

“Last year, we went to Bangkok and we visited True Love Café where you can pet lovely Huskies and take photos with them. So my wife and I got the idea to open a Doggy Cafe in Myanmar,” said Ko Htet Myat Aung, owner of JB.

He added, “I prepared [for] about three months to open the Doggy Cafe. I ordered more dogs for customers and trained the dogs for over a month so they [customers] can play with different types of dogs.”

At the Doggy Café five Siberian Huskies, one Samoyed, three Corgis and a giant Alaskan Malamute were set loose. Shiba Inus, Pugs, English Bulldogs and Chow Chows are only let out upon special request.

After talking with owner, I took a seat and beside me were two cute Pomeranians. They were hopping in their cage when they saw me. Their cage didn’t have a top cover, so I was able to pick up one and rub her belly. She loved it.

Near the seats, I curiously spotted a glass tank. What’s inside the tank? As I looked closer, there were three adorable hedgehogs sleeping in cuddled clump. I was really happy to see them because it was my first time seeing a hedgehog in real life. They were as cute as the hedgehogs I saw on Facebook. Under owner supervision, customers could also the hedgehogs.

It was nearly 3:00 pm when Ko Htet Myat Aung told the staff to let the dogs out. They let out dogs by their breed and separate them with fences. Only a Samoyed and Huskies were put together.

But my true reason for going to the café was to see the Corgis. Truth be told, I’ve been in love with them ever since I saw their videos and photos on the internet. Like the internet celebrity Loki the Corgi who passed away last year. So, it was my dream to see a Corgi in real life. Also, Corgis are expensive pets that aren’t easily seen in Myanmar.

It was – hands down – one of the best moments for me when they released those three Corgis in the play ground, tirelessly playing.

Ei Kyawt Khaing (Miss Myanmar 2017) playing with a duo of Corgis at JB Pet Cafe. Aung Khant / The Myanmar TimesEi Kyawt Khaing (Miss Myanmar 2017) playing with a duo of Corgis at JB Pet Cafe. Aung Khant / The Myanmar Times

Other customers were soon coming and most of the customers were girls who – like me – don’t have their own pets.

As fun as the café is with playful dogs, there are rules before entering the play ground. Customers cannot bring any outside food or drinks. For hygiene and bacteria-control, customers have to wear sanitary disposable footwear and wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap. Customers cannot let dogs smell or lick their hands or face. Customers are not allowed to attract dogs with food, leaves, sound or objects. There is no chasing or running up to all dogs and no lifting, holding, messaging or hip-grabbing for huskies. And when taking photos, flash is not allowed as it can disturb the dogs.

One session for a single person is K12,000 which includes one crepe cake and one drink. I ate my food before entering the playground but it’s your choice – you can eat the food after playing with the dogs. As for my review on the food, their crepe cake was really delicious and soft. I selected the kiwi crepe cake. They also have rainbow, strawberry, coffee and chocolate crepe cakes. The place itself will be misleading for coffee lovers because they didn’t serve coffee even though the place is called a “café”. They do have six different types of juices to choose from.

Now, for fulfilling a part of a long-standing desire, I headed straight for the Corgis Joanne, Dyno and JD. They were all super cute and playful but my favorite one was Dyno since he was easier to hold than others. You will sweat, I know I did.

I also had a great time with Daniel, the year-old giant Alaskan Malamute. As the owner said, Daniel is the biggest dog in Myanmar, weighing in at about 180 pounds. Some might be scared of his size and appearance but he is actually a giant baby – gentle and easy for taking pictures.

Among the five huskies, Dendi is the oldest but my favorites were Juicy and Divine. For me, Juicy is the most serene and Divine, an 8-month-old (and the youngest 4one), will play with you like a happy child. He is the cutest of the huskies. Jia Jia the Samoyed is as cute as Divine. Her fur is really nice to the touch, fluffy like cotton.

I had a great time with the dogs and I got lucky to see that one of the customers there was Miss Myanmar 2017, Ei Kyawt Khaing, so I also got a chance to talk with her.

“When I was in Bangkok, I went to True Love Café. Some people called it “Huskies Café”. I really lave Huskies and there are really lovable. So, I liked … going to that place. I also wished that that kind of place was available in Myanmar and now there it is. I am really glad that this place is open in Myanmar,” she said.

Not only Ei Kyawt Khaing but also others customers are happy about the Doggy Café. But for me, they need to improve –the place is only open on weekends and there is only one session a day with a maximum cap of 20 people. If you want to contact the shop, you can find them on Facebook under “JB PetCenter Myanmar – since 2013”.