A girl and her mother step into Are You My Human? Dog Rescue & Lounge in downtown Bellingham. The girl recently lost her father in a house fire and her dogs recently passed away, too. As she sits in the lounge, puppies lick her face and play beside her. The girl’s face lights up with joy. Her mother cries because she hasn’t seen her daughter this happy in a long time.
When Devin Parks started Are You My Human? Dog Rescue & Lounge in May of 2021, he expected to have an impact on the lives of rescue dogs. What he didn’t anticipate was the effect his business would have on the lives of his customers.
“The most rewarding part is the human aspect of it. It’s realizing how much this means to people for stress relief, for that therapy,” Parks says.
Parks grew up around dogs, which were a major part of his upbringing. He later managed Petsmart stores in Washington and in Oregon, where he helped rescue dogs get adopted.
After taking his children to a cat cafe, Parks noticed that they couldn’t really pick up the cats and play with them. This got him thinking about creating a business model that focuses on relationship-building and adoption.
“How I designed it was to be sort of that cat cafe on steroids in a sense. Full force, you’re gonna see the chaos of puppies playing, puppies get angry with each other, but then immediately ten minutes later they’re crashed dead asleep,” Parks says.
Visitors to the lounge can book a 50-minute time slot to play with the rescue puppies. If they fall in love with a pup, they can apply to adopt.
Dogs need constant attention, which is why Parks takes the rescue puppies home with him each night. He says that his wife and children, as well as his neighbors, are all very helpful with caring for and playing with the puppies. He is currently caring for six rescue puppies in addition to his own three dogs. The largest number of dogs he and his family have cared for at a given time was 14.
“I tell people this is not a job, this is a lifestyle,” Parks says.
Parks partners with several different rescues in Washington and Texas to receive the lounge’s rescue puppies.
“These dogs are found in boxes, they’re found roaming the streets of Texas, they’re being hit by cars, they’re being surrendered by owners who pass away and families who can’t have dogs anymore,” Parks says.
Although many visitors to the lounge come in with a “love at first sight” mindset, Parks stresses the importance of relationship-building. Through visiting the lounge, people build relationships with the puppies and are able to see which puppy will best fit their lifestyle. He strives to ensure each adopter gets a dog that is the best overall match.
“Patience 100% is a huge thing. Patience in the bonding of the relationship between the dog, patience in finding the right temperament and dog breed for your lifestyle … patience, in general, is 100% what needs to be had for people with dogs and especially rescue dogs, because of all their backgrounds,” Parks says. 1307 Cornwall Ave, Bellingham, 360.656.6398, areyoumyhumandogrescue.com