What's a Pop-Up?

by Lee Chambers

It’s a pick-me-up…literally…for the puppies or kittens featured in them!

Two years ago this month Dakin held its first ever pop-up event. It featured a litter of 8-week old puppies that had been born to a Dixie Dog we had welcomed to Dakin several weeks earlier (her pregnancy caught everyone by surprise!) For the pop-up, the puppies were placed inside an enclosed room, and groups of 10 people hunkered down on the floor to cuddle with and hold the adorable pups. Attendees had booked a 20-minute session for $20, and the “feel-good” pheromones flowed everywhere…for both the people and the puppies.  

Besides giving folks the opportunity to snuggle with adorable puppies or kittens who are just reaching adoption age, pop-ups provide another significant benefit; the young animals receive some much-needed socialization from being handled by people. While their foster caretakers work hard to care for them, the puppies and kittens need the additional interactions with people to help build confidence and prepare them for a busy world where they will be meeting strangers.

The first pop-up, like the six that followed it, was put together quickly when Dakin’s development and marketing staff heard about the availability of a litter of puppies or kittens that would benefit from socialization. Since these young animals usually become available for adoption at eight weeks, we target a date right before they are adopted. Five or six 20-minute sessions are scheduled for people to sign up for via Facebook, and the event is heavily promoted on social media. It also tends to sell out pretty quickly.

The Pop-Up events are among the most fun events Dakin presents. People of all ages get to experience great joy playing with the puppies or kittens, whether they're cuddling them or letting them explore the space they're sharing, and the animals share that euphoria. By participating, everyone is helping to shape these little ones and get them ready for the world while their fee is used to help Dakin’s many other animals who may have a tougher road to adoption due to medical or behavioral issues.

According to Stacey Price, director of development and marketing, "The effect that animals have on people is heartwarming. People's faces light up when they're playing with these baby animals in a Pop-Up event. Within minutes a scared puppy or kitten calms down and finds comfort in a participant's arms. It's really a sight to see."

She continues, "Some people come to these events to have fun and socialize these little ones, some who attend Pop-Ups live in places that don't allow animals and just miss the contact with them. We also see lots of young kids brought in by their parents who want them to learn about animals and enjoy some play time. The support our community shows by coming to Dakin Pop-Up events is always appreciated, and everyone goes home with a smile!”

Thanks to Dot Barnard for photographing these - and many other - moments at Pop-Up events, including the additional photos below.




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