Whereas many animal lovers fantasize about teaching their dogs to bring the malt, Buddy, 3, as well as Barley, 1, are already doing that in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Six Harbors Brewing Company co-founders Mark and Karen Heuwetter became motivated to carry the puppies on beer deliveries to lighten up buyers in Huntington, a seaside area on Long Island, New York.
Mark says, “People started seeing the dogs on the deliveries, so we came up with the concept of making them [help] carry the beer to them.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March, the brewery was declared an “important enterprise,” allowing it to stay available for delivery and roadside pick-up, something the operators hadn’t ever done previously.
Heuwetter explains, “It wasn’t a significant issue in our business strategy, but we had to re-develop ourselves.”
The Brew Dogs, like so many other dogs, enjoys going for road trips and putting their heads out through the window. Heuwetter wanted to take them with him instead of leaving them at the brewing company while delivering goods.
The Heuwetters created “small accents” that could be worn around the dogs’ necks as a collar and could hold four beer cans. (They used empty bottles because Heuwetter says, “we’re dog-loving folk, and we wouldn’t want them to get physically harmed or stir up the beer.”)
The Brew Dogs soon became mascots, looking the same as St. Bernard dogs with a container of whiskey on their necks.
When it comes to deliveries, humans in masks and gloves bring the beer to the drop-off location, then let the dogs meet the customers and take photos while displaying their beer costumes.
On weekends, the brewery used to serve over 600 pints a day, but now the puppies and Heuwetters only make four to twelve deliveries per day.
And, despite the fact that April and May were usually the busiest months for the company, sales have dropped seventy to eighty percent from April 2019, attributable to the pandemic, according to Heuwetter.
Eleven part-time workers at the brewery have also been laid off, with some of the Heuwetter relatives filling in for them. As a result, the puppies, who have over 500 Instagram followers, have become a bright spot.
Users are searching for socialization throughout this period of social distancing, so [consumers] have a blast,” Heuwetter says.
Although there have been isolated cases of dogs contracting Covid-19 in Hong Kong, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19. (However, it’s important to clean your hands after handling pets.)
Despite the fact that dogs can contract other forms of coronaviruses, Covid-19 is not thought to be a threat to them. The CDC, on the other hand, warns against allowing your pets to communicate with animals or humans outside the home.
The Brew Dogs are a mainstay, even after the pandemic. Since the brewing company is welcoming to dogs, customers often bring their dogs to enjoy a beer and interact socially.
Buddy, an older dog, has been a “stalwart of the institution” since it launched in May 2018, according to Heuwetter. Buddy will run to welcome customers and lead them into the bar as they pulled into the parking lot.
Heuwetter says, “We never instructed him to do all that; he simply picked it up.”
“He had the air of a mayor. He’d go out to every table and interact with people and to get petted because, well, he’s a puppy, and he wants to be petted.”