Woman Builds The Most Adorable Café For Her Neighborhood Dogs
“This is something they can do to bring a little joy to their day” ❤️️
Kaya Kristina lives right next door to High Park, one of Toronto’s most popular public gardens. Six years ago, the animal lover noticed that many of the pups in her neighborhood looked like they could use a little pick-me-up after running around outside.
“On hot days, I noticed some of the dogs coming home from the park looked thirsty and tired,” Kristina told The Dodo. “I thought I should put out some water and a sign that said, ‘For thirsty dogs.’”
Her act of kindness didn’t go unnoticed for long. “One day, I got a card from someone in my mailbox,” Kristina said. “It had a pic of their dog on the front and it was written from the point of view of the dog saying thank you for the water. I put the pic up on my fridge and it made me really happy.”
For years, Kristina continued to supply local dogs with water and she continued to receive little messages in return. Then, when the pandemic struck last year, Kristina decided to up her game. She decided to leave some treats on her front lawn for all her furry neighbors to safely enjoy during lockdown.
And StarPups Coffee was born.
“I made a bunch of mini treat bags, made a little menu so people knew what they were giving their dog and put a little stand out with options,” Kristina said. “It was so cute seeing the dogs go by and pulling their owners to my house to go get a snack.”
Kristina provides water, Milk-Bones and specialty all-natural treats made in Canada. And the parade of dogs enjoying them has provided hours of entertainment for her while being cooped up inside.
Regular visitors began swinging by the café every day, so Kristina started an Instagram account as a way to build a little community around the watering hole.
“I thought of all the people living alone during COVID and how their mental health was suffering,” Kristina said. “I thought, 'Most people are complaining about their husbands and kids driving them nuts being home all together. But do they think about their single friends who only have pets?' I wanted to give those people something to look forward to and make them feel special.”
One day, Kristina went outside and found that her entire café setup was missing. Someone had stolen StarPups overnight, and Kristina was heartbroken. She posted about it on her Instagram — and, to her surprise, the community she had fostered over the months and years stepped up to help.
“That evening, when I got home, my mailbox was full of cards, notes, photos of people’s dogs, Pet Valu gift cards and even a sweet drawing of my dog,” Kristina said. “It turned out to be a good thing, because I had felt so isolated all year with COVID, and now I felt like I had an army of friends.”
Encouraged by the show of support, Kristina built another StarPups Coffee for the neighborhood dogs to enjoy. And Kristina is currently working on building a more permanent setup on her lawn, which will be weatherproof so that no dogs will have to walk away disappointed when it rains or snows.
Now that Ontario has entered back into lockdown, the little front yard café is doing more business than ever before. “One of the few things that's still allowed is walking your dog,” Kristina said. “So many people are struggling mentally and physically, so this is something they can do to bring a little joy to their day.”