It is not unusual for companies to work for animal welfare. But Delhi-based Lemon Tree Hotels is doing it with a twist. It not just takes care of stray dogs, but hires them and gives them specific roles such as security officers or administrative assistants in the company. It all started during the initial years of Lemon Tree when Patu Keswani, Chairman and MD, used to take his pet Sparky to office.
"Sparky had this habit of sitting in my office the whole day. She would come with me from home, and occupy one chair. Sparky also used to join our board meetings. In those days, it was a private company. One day, I jokingly told the board to make her vice chair dog, and she became one. Then I said that any hotel we open, let's keep a couple of dogs and hire them. Since we are feeding them and providing them inoculation, they must give back to the company," says Keswani, who is now assisted by Artificer Polytechnus Keswani, a pet in the Chairman's office, after Sparky's death in 2017.
Today, Lemon Tree has about 140 dogs across 84 hotels. Each hotel has at least one dog, while some like in Udaipur have nine. "Of late, I have been trying to get somebody to train hamsters. I have this desire to see a hamster cycling in a lobby of our hotel," says Keswani.