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Sit, Stay, Skype! Petropolis uses Skype video chat to connect dogs and owners

Any dog lover will tell you: one of the hardest things about traveling is leaving little Fido behind.

That’s why we were particularly interested to learn about Petropolis, a St. Louis-based dog boarding, training, grooming and daycare facility that’s been in business for 25 years.

The staff there recently came up with a clever use of Skype to soothe the separation anxiety that plagues some of their (human and canine) clients.

“We don’t think of ourselves as a kennel,” said Kevin Brackett, Petropolis’ Director of Marketing. “We keep the dogs in what we call ‘condos’, where they have room to move around. During the day, they’re outside with other dogs, chasing around balls and Frisbees, playing tug-o-war. We’re more of a pet hotel.”

Skype on iPad (3).jpg

Kevin said the Petropolis team had heard about kennels that scheduled times for owners to talk with their boarded dogs. That sparked an idea. “What if each condo had its own computer, so owners could talk to their dogs 24/7, rather than at an appointed time,” he wondered.

After doing a little research, Kevin learned that Skype could be set up to answer an incoming video call automatically. “We haven’t been able to train dogs to answer Skype themselves yet,” he joked.

Kevin was already quite familiar with Skype, having used it to talk to his wife’s two brothers serving in the military in Iraq. “Skype software just works so well, so it was really my only choice for taking on this project. From my experience with Skype, I knew it would be a smooth process.”

This past summer, Petropolis installed netbooks with WiFi in its villas (most upscale accommodations) as a test. Now pet owners can dial in via Skype video whenever they like.

“Next thing the owner knows, their dog’s head pops up on their screen,” said Kevin.

Skype in Villa (3).jpg

The response from Petropolis’ human clients has been overwhelmingly positive. In the first week, they saw three to four people calling in per day. “Our clients are super excited by the fact that we offer Skype video calling. Cameras are one-way communication, but with Skype they can actually ‘talk’ with their pets,” said Kevin.

How have the dogs liked it? “Some of the dogs stare at the screen, some will talk to it. They give it a few barks. It doesn’t scare them at all.”

Kevin says Petropolis will expand its Skype offering beyond the 10 condos currently outfitted with the service. “Most people find comfort in being able to see their dogs, see that they’re being taken care of. They don’t have that concern about how their pet is doing.”

Do you have an established business that now offers a standout service thanks to Skype? We’d love to hear about it!

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