Doggone it, Chewy, you’re going to make us cry.
The online retailer for a variety of pet items apparently knows how to get to our feels: There’s a longstanding practice at the company to acknowledge the loss of customers’ pets with flowers or, sometimes, even paintings.
That’s what artist Anna Brose learned the other day when she tried to return a no-longer-needed bag of dog food to the company. As she tweeted on Wednesday: “I contacted @Chewy last week to see if I could return an unopened bag of my dog’s food after he died. They 1) gave me a full refund, 2) told me to donate the food to the shelter , and 3) had flowers delivered today with the gift note signed by the person I talked to??”
Her tweet has since gone viral, leading Brose to follow up with a sweet pic of her now-departed dog, Gus. “Thank you for all the kind messages and shared stories in the comments,” she wrote, adding a blue heart emoji. “Gus would have been blown away!”
Naturally, Chewy replied, saying, “It’s the least we could do, Anna. We hope these flowers will help to keep your spirits up.”
For all the cynics out there: Yes, this is a terrific bit of customer service-turned-promotion. But it also appears to be meaningful to grieving pet owners and more.
Animal shelters have even taken notice. One shelter worker wrote in a response to Brose’s tweet: “I work at an animal shelter. This is legit. We often have people reaching out to donate because Chewy told them to reach out to a local shelter. I can’t express what this means to shelter’s like mine. Truly a gift.”
“Showing up for our customers during important milestones in their pet parenting journey is core to our DNA,” Andrew Stein, senior director for customer service at Chewy, told TODAY, adding that they’ve offered such gestures to their customers since the company’s ” very early days.”
And it’s not always flowers. Twitter user Molliexmartin wrote in response to the tweet, “we will forever be grateful for this painting you guys sent us after we had to put daisy down. we still aren’t positive how y’all knew as we still had other dogs and didn’t “t cancel any good orders. we put her up where we see her everyday. thank you guys so much!”
“What you have seen… is representative of the responses we consistently receive,” says Chewy’s Stein. “Each and every time we see a customer post, we all get excited and start forwarding it around Chewy; it never gets old.
“For many customers, their pet is a primary companion in life, and when they lose their fur baby, they may feel alone and in need of someone to lean on. In those moments, they understand that Chewy is also part of their family, and they are so grateful.”
Animal experts say pets often process loss in a manner similar to humans. In a recent newsletter published by the Funeral Consumer Alliance of Maine, researcher Jessica Pierce says a growing body of research into ‘animal thanatology’ suggests common pets such as dogs and cats seem to share with humans many behavioral reactions to death, such as mourning and rituals of farewell, NBC affiliate WCSH reports.
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: