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Local business feature: atFrits Dog Hotel

De Waterkant is home to so many wonderful and creative businesses, making it the bustling and vibrant area that we know it to be. Any dog lover in Cape Town knows about atFrits Dog Hotel – Cape Town’s very own five-star pup palace with exclusively canine clientele.

Image credits: atFrits Dog Hotel

This innovative inn was the brainchild of local animal lover, Yanic Klue, who first came across the concept during her studies at Stellenbosch University and worked toward opening her own dog hotel for the next five years. We chatted to her to find out more and this is what she had to say:

When was atFrits first established and what makes your business unique?

We first opened our doors on the first of December 2015. We were the first dog hotel on the African continent. What makes us unique – we’re like a one-stop-shop for dogs. We’re specialised in animal/ dog care, and have a dog behaviourist on the premises to screen each animal to ensure it’s placed in the most appropriate playpen.

We offer additional services, like physio and hydrotherapy, grooming, dog training, and work closely with local vets in case of any emergencies. All to ensure that our guests really get the best care.

What do you enjoy about running your business on the border of the De Waterkant area?

We’re lucky to be in a very central area, which is convenient for our customers. The area is also very efficient – it gives you a sense of living in a first-world country. Thanks to the GPCID patrollers, my customers are able to feel safe while coming and going.

How were you affected by the pandemic?

We were affected very badly. A big portion of our business comes from our day-care services, and with so many people working from home, our numbers dropped significantly.

We also ended up taking on the responsibility of looking after a few street dogs, whose owners were being quarantined at Strandfontein. A lot of vagrants were very upset about being separated from their dogs, and worried about how they would be looked after, so we offered to help them by taking their dogs in. But we view this as a more positive effect of COVID-19 – we were happy that we were able to help the community in some way.

Since overcoming lockdown, what advice would you give other businesses going through hardship?

Overall, I think that tough times are great for helping you identify cracks in your business. So, in this sense, a struggle like COVID-19 is a good opportunity to streamline your business and remove all unnecessary efforts and expenses. I used the pandemic as a chance to refresh my business model.

I was also extremely lucky to have an understanding landlord. If it wasn’t for reduced rental, I would likely have lost my business completely. My landlord told me that it was ok for me to prioritise paying my staff over paying rent, which was extremely kind. And this kindness created a lot of my desire to pay it forward where I was able to (looking after street dogs).

What other learnings have you had as a result of the pandemic?

I think that the pandemic reminded people to be more grateful for their work and what they have in life, and it helped bring people together as we all tried to help each other.

Even our GP/OKCID patrol dogs love atFrits! Over the years, Yanic has been kind enough to give our tail-wagging workers a good bath and brush whenever they need one.

“The GP/OKCID pays such attention to detail in all aspects. Something that I really appreciate is that, in summer, they are even conscious of their dogs’ paws walking around on the hot pavement and never take their dogs out on very hot days.

But the GP/OKCID has access to atFrits whenever they need it; whether the dogs need somewhere to rest or somewhere to play. It’s amazing to see how much they love their dogs,” shares Yanic.

So often, life gets in the way and we aren’t able to spend as much time with our furry friends as we might hope. Consider treating your pooch to a day/ overnight stay at atFrits, where they’ll be pampered and able to frolic with friends until they drop! Find a detailed list of atFrits’ rates and services here.

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