For £44.99 per year, busy dog-owners can sign up to online service Borrow my Doggy and have a corresponding dog-lover (who pays an annual fee of £9.99) look after their pet with a joyous combination ‘walkies, playdays, sleepovers and happy holidays’. It’s kind of like an inter-species online dating service – you find someone you like the look of, you agree a meeting place, and everyone’s happy!
The whole thing seems well-designed to instil peace of mind to both owner and borrower, with a 24-hour emergency vet line, third party insurance and a mutual ‘pledge’ which must be adhered to by both parties.
So far, so good – there are thousands of dog ‘profiles’ on the site, and plenty more volunteers who are more than happy to take the lead, as it were.
But there are some things to consider before embarking on this trail. From the borrowers’ side, looking after somebody else’s prized pooch is a huge responsibility – even with liability insurance, it would be a real blow to the conscience if something bad happened to the dog while in your care.
On that note, it’s probably worth asking as many questions about said dog’s temperament before taking it on. If you suddenly discover that your borrowed mutt has a mortal fear of, say, squirrels, then you’ll wish you’d found out beforehand that St. James’s Park isn’t the best spot for walkies.
Dog owners’ reservations are understandable. Dogs are part of the family, so owners must question whether they really want to entrust a surrogate with their precious puppy. If it’s going to reduce you to a nervous wreck, don’t go there.
Similarly, some dogs can be shy creatures. Couple this with a fierce loyalty to their owners and you have a pet that might be miserable in someone else’s possession.
But despite these precautions, Borrow my Doggy should be a great service if a few simple rules are respected. After all, what dog doesn’t love being petted and adored? And if you love dogs but don’t want one full-time, this could be your new hobby.
Owners: only lend out your pet if you really feel he or she will benefit from the extra attention of a virtual stranger, and build up some trust with the person you choose. Borrowers: be sensitive, responsible and respectful of the owner’s wishes. But most importantly, know your place. You could give the best treats, strokes and ball-throws in the world, but you’ll never replace Mum and Dad.
Main image: benjgibbs at Flickrcc