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Neighbors Appreciate Canadian Woman's Bistro For Dogs

NOEL KING, HOST:

Toronto has plenty of good restaurants for humans. Now, though, there is an option for dogs - StarPups Cafe. Here's how it started. Kaya Kristina used to leave a bowl of water on her lawn for thirsty dogs.

KAYA KRISTINA: I started getting little notes in my mailbox saying, like, thank you so much. Our dog appreciates it so much.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When the pandemic started, Kristina offered more - dog biscuits, beef liver bites, a treat of the day. Now, Kristina is not a morning person but wakes every day at 8 to stock the cafe.

KRISTINA: In my dreams already, if I'm sleeping late, I can think, oh, my God, those dogs are out there looking at my house (laughter). And it's heartbreaking.

KING: StarPups was a hit. Neighbors left more thank you notes, pictures of happy dogs. Kristina started an Instagram page of those photos.

KRISTINA: They'd see each other on Instagram and like - then they'd meet each other in the street and introduce themselves and be like, oh, I saw you on Instagram. And now they have walking partners.

KING: She's been surprised by the response.

KRISTINA: I didn't expect it to be so important to people. And it is. It's not just the dogs. It's the people behind them and the connections they've made.

INSKEEP: And those connections are important to her, especially now.

KRISTINA: I miss my parents. I miss my family. I so badly wanted a hug from somebody, and I was like, I don't know when the next time I'm going to get it is. I think I personally have healed through this, too, because of the feeling of like, OK, I have a community now.

INSKEEP: A community of two different species.

(SOUNDBITE OF DJ OKAWARI'S "YOURS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.