Flowers, dog portraits, and personal letters: Tales of Chewy customer service go viral

Online pet store Chewy is having a viral moment on social media after one of its customers tweeted about the company’s compassion after her dog died. 

The tweet, by Anna Brose, a research support specialist at the National Science Foundation, got more than 600,000 likes by Thursday afternoon after she described how the company gave her a full refund for a bag of unopened kibble after her dog died. She also said the company suggested she donate the bag of food rather than return it. 

In countless replies to the tweet, clients gave Chewy’s customer service the equivalent of some belly rubs and chin scratches. Over the years, customers said they’ve received everything from flowers, to personal letters, to even hand-painted portraits of their furry friends from the company after they have died—or for no reason at all.

One of these portraits was of Shawn Lamoreaux’s dog Cassie, who died in February at the age of 15. After the dog died, Lamoreaux removed Cassie’s profile from Chewy’s website and notified the company that he would no longer need her joint supplement pills. Soon after, Chewy sent Lamoreaux a personalized portrait of Cassie, which he put next to her urn as part of a small memorial on the fireplace in his living room.

Lamoreaux got Cassie as a puppy in 2006, and he told Fortune it meant a lot to him that the company would send him such a gift. 

“It’s so unusual for a company to traditionally do, but it seems like they have quite the reputation of treating their customers,” he told Fortune in a message. 

Another Chewy customer, Nicole Luciano, said she was surprised when, in 2018, Chewy sent her a painting of her Shih Tzu, Smokey, whom she had adopted four years earlier. After Smokey died in 2019 at the age of 15, Luciano incorporated the portrait into a memorial to him that she still has on her bedroom dresser. 

Luciano said the portrait of Smokey, along with the flowers she’s seen the company send other pet parents, shows that Chewy understands how important people’s pets are to them.

“This made me feel really appreciated and ‘seen’ as a customer,” she said.

Chewy, based in Florida, was acquired by PetSmart for $3.35 billion in 2017, but they now operate as separate entities. Chewy has 20,000 employees, according to the company.

“Showing up for our customers during important milestones in their pet parenting journey is core to our DNA. Since Chewy’s very early days (and yesterday happened to be Chewy’s 11th birthday!), empowering our incredible Chewtopians to personalize their interactions with customers, take an interest in their lives and go above and beyond with gestures like these has been essential to our culture,” Chewy said in a statement to Fortune.

Andrew Stein, Chewy’s senior director of customer service, told the Boston Globe that he didn’t know when the company began sending personal gifts to customers.

“Its origins may be folklore at this point,” he said.

The practice, however it started, is an example of how the company tries to be compassionate with customers and their pets, Stein told the Globe

“We’re all pet parents at heart, and unlike other industries, the pet space is a very emotive one,” he said.

June 17, 2022: This story has been updated with clarification about how many employees Chewy has, and a statement from the company.

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