The national government has declared a shutdown of non-essential businesses due to the coronavirus outbreak. This health disaster has affected many areas of our lives, including our livelihoods. Small business owners know they have to get creative because if they don’t, they are at risk of suffering from an economic crisis.
This Maryland winery didn’t have to look far to find a solution to their business woes. In compliance with social distancing protocols, the store couldn’t let their customers stay in, which makes transacting with their patrons more challenging than usual. Thankfully, they have someone in the shop who can take care of this problem – a dog named Soda Pup!
Since the mandatory quarantine began, the 75-pound, 11-year-old brindle boxer officially became Stone House Urban Winery’s delivery dog.
“After we could no longer have our guests come into the winery in a social setting, I noticed that Soda was looking a little sad,” the winery’s owner, Lori Yata, told TODAY.
Soda loves being surrounded by people. In fact, whenever the door would chime, he would jump up to greet whoever came in. Customers also look forward to seeing him; once they step inside, they would immediately look over to where Soda’s bed is to say hi to him. Guests absolutely adore the friendly pup!
Lori was speaking with her daughter-in-law one day, and she told her that Soda seemed so sad because he doesn’t get to interact with people that much anymore. Then, her daughter-in-law gave her the idea of having Soda deliver the wine.
Lori immediately hopped online and found a saddle bag meant for horses. It had side pockets perfect for holding two bottles of wine. She then posted a note on Facebook to see if she could get some customers to visit.
“So, mom has been filling me in on this Covid-19 (sic) virus thing and she says that it is REALLY affecting small businesses like our little winery,” Lori posted, writing as Soda. “Mom says that we all have to pitch in and pull our weight, that includes me as well.”
Placing an order is simple. Customers may call the store ahead of time to get recommendations and reserve bottles. Then, once they get to the parking lot, they can just call the winery to say that they’re ready for the doggy delivery.
Once they get the call, Lori holds up Soda’s bag and he comes running over to her. She puts a couple of treats in it, a container for the wine, and two bottles of wine. Lori then opens the door, and Soda walks to the curb to deliver the package. And since Soda is just like any other dog, Lori has to make sure that there are no geese, squirrels, and bunnies around before she lets him out.
Soda is such a natural at this job that he didn’t have to go through any training for it. Boxers are known for being really smart, so it’s no surprise that Soda quickly got the hang of his new job.
Luckily, the dog seems to be enjoying his new role. Lori can tell that he loves it from the way he hurries to her side whenever she picks up the saddle bag. A part of the job is that he gets extra treats and pets from the customers – every dog would love that!
The move has been good for her business, too. Other people who have never been to the shop order wine just to have Soda deliver their drinks. Some customers would even buy more bottles of wine so their kids can see Soda deliver it to them. He puts a smile on everyone’s faces, and it warms Lori’s heart seeing that her loyal companion can bring so much happiness to lots of people.
Lori and Soda have shared a long history. She has had him ever since he was six months old. “Soda has been by my side through some of the toughest times of my life,” Lori said. “Once again, he is by my side when I have no idea how this small business is going to survive these most difficult times.”
“If Soda puts a smile on at least one face, then he has completed his mission in life,” Lori added.
Aside from being a loyal friend, it’s incredible to see how Soda is saving Lori’s business from facing an economic crisis. Indeed, dogs can do so much for their humans!
Watch the video below to see Soda at work.