Heads up for tails

Dog owners have a secret sorrow. No matter how hard they try, they can’t love like dogs—and no one encourages this guilt more relentlessly than dogs. Renowned for their devotion and loyalty, dogs have a less-publicized side that involves staring, chasing and emotional blackmail. Now, they have a new appeal for “parents” – a cafe called Puppychino where dogs and humans can socialize together. Everyone is raving about it. It even has cupcakes for pets (and none for “humans”).

Poppuccino, Delhi’s (India’s) first dog cafe, is located in Shahpur Jat, a deviant lane where style seekers try to discover interesting designs in quaint boutiques. An offbeat restaurant for dog lovers fits nicely among the concept showrooms in the high-rises. Inside the cafe, the walls are cool and pale, the furniture minimalistic and the design coordinated to cater to two sets of clients — those who come in four feet and two legs.

A giant dog chases a yellow frisbee in a play pen, a prim beagle pushes a colorful ball with its mouth, a little girl wraps herself around a handsome Siberian husky while her mother throws a plastic bone at a labrador. The enclosure, where about 10 dogs can roam at a time, is cramped but for two benches. An in-house trainer keeps an eye on the troops in the play zone and, thanks to the dispenser, the air is fresh. Humans and animals are associated with games that involve a significant amount of running, rolling, and hitting with tails. Dogs are social animals, and those who go to Pappuccino are on their best behavior.

Two twenty-year-old sisters started Pappuccino because they were guilty of leaving their own dog behind when they went out. (Source: Express Photo by Tashi Tobagyal)

The door separating the play area from the dining room has a board that reads, “Don’t let the dogs out, no matter what they tell you”. It is easily overlooked. The 25-seat dining space, on a weekday evening, drew groups of youngsters with or without pets. On a table covered with pizza and tall drinks for humans, a toy Pomeranian named Louise digs into a woofsum cupcake (made with cornmeal, coconut milk, and yogurt but without sugar or spices). His owner is a student of College of Art, Delhi, who joins his gang by playing the guitar in between conversations.

Two twenty-year-old sisters started Pappuccino because they were guilty of leaving their own dog behind when they went out. “Every time we would leave them, they would tear up the mattress and tear up the furniture. It was their way of showing anger,” says Nayani Tandon, a proud mother of two dogs, who sports a paw tattoo on one hand and her dog’s silhouette (which became Pappuccino’s logo) and ear studs resembling bones on the other. And paws her sister, Mallika Tandon, a communication design student, who worked on the decor and menu.

Their commitment to dogs extends to the operation of the cafe with a menu of dogs and “humans”. The former is based on human food innovation and includes Strawberry Risotto with Mint Yogurt, Snoopy Spaghetti, which uses whole wheat spaghetti, fresh vegetables and Parmesan cheese, and Toothsome Pancakes, where gluten-free wheat is mixed with cornmeal, coconut water and is done Nut butter. Most of the menu includes shakes, sandwiches, pasta, pizza and burgers that the girls have created with an emphasis on comfort food. Owners serve tables and clean up afterward, not because the wait staff is unaffordable, but because their dogs and dog lovers prefer personal rather than professional interactions by nature. Let’s wait for it.

Address: 3rd Floor, 119, Shishu Bhavan, Shahpur Ghat; 12-10 p.m.
Call 33105862 for reservations.

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