Local Expert: POOCHi

Hidden in the residential buildings of Tribeca are hundreds of folks running businesses that, without storefronts, are hidden from view. Some are brand new, some have been around for a while, and all are contributing to the hive of expertise we have buzzing down here. From time to time I will feature one of them in this series.

The expert: Jason Zafarana
The business: Concierge services for your canine friend
Founded: March 2018

Jason Zafarana did not always obsess over dogs. In fact, he and his partner, who have lived on Chambers Street for 12 years, have other obsessions. (For instance, they go to every Duke football and basketball game, home or away. Every one. Which in a roundabout way is kind of why he ended up starting this business.) He was just a regular old telecom executive, director of sales for Sprint, to be exact, when the couple acquired Bronx, their cocker spaniel, six years ago. But they were travelling a lot, and he was seeing gaps (read: guilt) in the pet care he was hiring.

“We want to make sure our dogs can live their best lives,” said Zafarana (and if I couldn’t hear myself talking about my own year-old cat, “I’m worried she’s bored,” I would be laughing at this). “It’s not the dog’s fault that we are so busy.”

He went through several services then decided to start his own last year. He now has three employees, each of whom get 75 hours of field training and 25 hours of classroom training (including pet first aid) before they handle one of his clients. He tested five different apps before settling on Time to Pet, which allows human clients to GPS track their dog’s walks and see pictures of him enjoying his day. POOCHi will manage anything from vet visits to training, providing what Zafarana calls “life-style care.” They are basically dog nannies. He started with one client and now has 55.

The walks are discounted with volume and frequency, but start at $26 for 30 minutes for one to three semi-private walks a week. (Most clients are signing up for one to four walks a day.)

Zafarana wants to peddle in retail as well and launch an apparel line, hopefully in the neighborhood. “This is it, I’m going to do this forever,” he said. I guess the best part is the customers. “Dealing with puppies all day. Who doesn’t love it?”




  1. Not sure what kind of training they do, but hopefully a lot of it is for picking up after the dogs, which seems to be a huge inconvenience for many of the professional dog walkers… and owners.

    • I can’t wrap my head around why dog owners leave urine and residue – if not entire poops – in their neighbors’ doorways and sidewalks. It’s such an effortless act to lead your dog three feet to the street, and makes our neighborhood infinitely more pleasant and sanitary.

      It took three days and a handful of treats to teach our dog to always walk to the street to relieve herself. Failing that: leash.

      Why would anyone deliberately choose the alternative for the place they live or work?

  2. I have been a client of Poochi since the beginning and I couldn’t be happier with the service Jason and his team provides. They are so reliable and care for my dog as if she was their own. It gives me such peace of mind during the work day and I love how easy the app is to use. Jason brings pet care to a whole new standard in the neighborhood and I couldn’t recommend them enough!

  3. I have been a Poochi client for almost a year now and I love them!! They started caring for my 5 month old puppy and they were integral in his training and have been an amazing second family to me and my doggy who just turned 1! Jason is unbelievable with dogs and his team is so well trained and professional and loving! I travel a lot and always feel so good knowing that I have Poochi to care for my puppy. I love their app that allows you to see your dog throughout the day on his walks! I think Poochi takes dog care to the next level and I can’t recommend Jason and his team enough!