Paws for breath: clean air for India’s pampered pooches, while New Delhi chokes in smog

  • Purified air, imported food and a playlist suitable for high-end spas, that’s what Indian capital’s wealthy pet owners pay for at TopDog pet resort
  • Resort’s presidential suite occupied by street dogs adopted by an employee of the WHO, the agency that developed standards for monitoring air quality
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 11:12am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 11:12am

While most residents of the Indian capital Delhi choked on toxic air this week, the dogs of the city’s elite were enjoying ambient music and purified air at a luxury resort for pets.

Pollution in the capital rose to “severe” after revellers let off fireworks to mark the Hindu festival of Diwali, adding to the heavy smog caused by crop burning, vehicle fumes and industrial emissions.

Delhi’s air is among the worst in the world, although many in the city of more than 20 million are unable, or unwilling, to protect themselves from the cocktail of gases and particles.

But TopDog Luxury Pet Resort is offering relief for posh pooches.

Rooms at the site, which is next to an organic vegetable farm in Gurugram, one of Delhi’s satellite cities and an IT hub, start at 2,000 rupees (US$28) a night – more than five times the average daily wage.

The canine guests – many owned by politicians, diplomats and business figures, the resort says – have had their outdoor time reduced during bad-air days.

The air in their rooms is cleaned by purifying machines.

“We don’t want them out smelling the air for more than 45 minutes,” said chief operating officer Gautam Kari, who studied animal behaviour in California.

Kari said clients take their dogs there for training and luxuries, including food imported from Canada and music more commonly heard in high-end spas.

But air pollution is also a concern for owners.

“I think the air purifiers … are as relevant to dogs as well as to human beings,” said Vineet Durani, an executive at Microsoft who was there to collect his husky Juno. “It’s hard to breathe.”

Other guests include three dogs owned by Japanese diplomats and two Portuguese water dogs – Peanut and Snicker – from the Dutch embassy.

The resort’s presidential suite is occupied by a pair of street dogs adopted by an employee of the World Health Organisation, the agency that developed international standards for monitoring air quality.

For those unable get their pet into TopDog, a pollution mask for dogs, which its makers say is a world-first, will soon be available in India.

The K9mask, which costs US$39.99 and promises “easy air intake for resting or panting”, is looking for an Indian distributor.

“India is definitely a place experiencing air quality problems that will benefit,” said Kirby Holmes, managing partner of the Good Air Team, which makes the masks.