Dear Harmonious Hounds Family,
We hope that you and your loved ones are well and starting to find some sense of normalcy in all of this mess. We are reaching out with an update on our services as we navigate this new world shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As phased opening commences in MA and across the country, the world we’re re-entering is a different and more complicated place than the one we left behind. There is a great deal of uncertainty within the dog walking and pet sitting fields specifically, with many clients continuing to work from home into the foreseeable future and with many avoiding travel due to safety concerns. Other high-risk individuals are, understandably, still not ready to have people in and out of their homes. We as a company have struggled with some very difficult decisions and have been forced to pivot drastically to survive in the “new normal.”
Social distancing requirements gave rise to our first evolution – we have shifted all of our dog training services to be entirely online. We have been successfully teaching live group classes and holding private consultations through digital meeting platforms, like Zoom and Facebook Groups, since early April. We’ve found many advantages to this approach and will continue to offer a portion of our training classes and several hybrid classes in this format, even once all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
As for in person classes and private training, we have reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) to seek clarification on when in person group classes can resume and with what restrictions. Unfortunately, dog training is such a niche service that it is not addressed directly in Governor Baker’s reopening plan. We are hopeful that we may be able to resume classes – respecting all necessary social distancing and other health precautions – later this summer. We will be sure to let students know as soon as we can meet again; in the meantime, check out our online training options!
Our truly agonizing decisions have been in regard to our pet care services. With business grinding nearly to a halt throughout the pandemic and little hope for a return to previous levels any time soon, we have come to the disheartening conclusion that we will need to scale back considerably in response to the changing demand for services. We will have fewer staff and have to minimize their travel in order to keep the business viable. Effective immediately, we will be retracting our service area to be focused more locally; primarily New Bedford and the surrounding towns. Accordingly, we will be discontinuing all walking and pet sitting services to the following locations:
- West Wareham
Additionally, travel fees may apply to some addresses outside of the new service area who we could previously service without charges; we understand such surcharges may not be tenable for some clients. It absolutely breaks our hearts to have to part ways with so many amazing clients and dogs, and it has been our absolute honor to serve you over the years.
We will be sending out individualized emails to those walking and pet sitting clients who will be directly impacted by these changes over the next few days and processing refunds for any prepayments remaining on your accounts.
For those in our new service area interested in resuming regular walking service, we will be emailing you a form directly to be completed online to reinstate service (if we somehow miss you – please reach out!). Even if you previously had recurring visits or just “as-needed” with us, you will need to complete the form, as all schedules have been suspended. This form will also review our new safety protocols and your role in ensuring health and safety.
Non-essential service will be available as early as Tuesday, 5/26. We will evaluate staffing for availability upon receipt as we always have. Bear in mind, however, that our manpower is limited more so than ever, so we may not be able to honor all requests. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we attempt to get back up on the horse and keep riding.
As always, we are most readily available by email or text for questions. Please continue to stay safe and healthy and give all of the pups and kitties we are missing a cuddle and our best. We hope to be seeing some of them soon!
Lauren & Tim