As of the moment I am writing this we have posted 7576 pictures and videos to our Instagram account.
Seven thousand, five hundred and seventy six.
It's hard to wrap your head around that many pictures. I know this because I just spent a few hours scrolling through them and I barely made it through three month's worth.
We post so many pictures because we want to share what we do at DogPlay. We want to share it with our customers, their friends and families, and anyone who wants to know what we're all about. It's a bit of marketing, a bit of vanity, a bit of transparency, and it's a lot of fun for all of us.
What I never anticipated was that sharing so many pictures and videos would also give us this amazing timeline of the life of DogPlay.
From Danielle and I starting out with a stripped out little warehouse to a team of DogPlay handlers working with dogs in all corners of a giant new facility, we've got a huge photographic record of how we got here.
There are lots of little things I see that you would probably not notice. That back panel that was just awful, un-painted plywood for the longest time until we went on a painting mission. Our old, white dividers which we hand built, sanded and painted. They did an amazing job for so long until we were able to introduce the updated, playground-grade composite design we have now.
Larger changes are easier to spot. An old framing gallery transformed into a new grooming salon. An empty space that gives way to a bigger store filled with new toys, treats, food, leashes, and the like.
A few photos really make me pause and reflect. My daughter reaching out to pet Diesel for the first time from her bumbo chair. Any photos with our front counter in them make me smile. My wife tiled that counter on her hands and knees at 9 months pregnant. People scoffed at me for allowing her to do this. Like I had ANY say in the matter.
Truthfully, it's why I love her. She's a fiercely strong, independent woman and will do anything she sets her mind to. Her drive keeps me going and holds it all together. I feel it every time I see that counter.
I pause every time I see a picture of Taff. The first dog we met through DogPlay who passed away. I miss him a lot. I miss him more than I thought I would which makes me wonder how I will ever survive the passing of one of my dogs. It makes me realize how blurry the line between my dogs and DogPlay dogs is. Taff was a big part of our lives and he died so quickly, we never got a chance to say goodbye.
Then there are the people. People who are more than customers and staff, they're part of our community. I went to a meeting of small business owners the other day and was asked to describe the demographics of a typical DogPlay customer and do you know what? I couldn't.
They are men and women, young and old. They drive Mercedes' and Hondas, BMWs and Fords. They're from Marpole and Downtown, Richmond and Burnaby. They are students, lawyers, bankers, and barristas. We're a pretty unique bunch except for the one thing that binds us all together:
We're all crazy dog people. And I've got 7576 pictures to prove it.