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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rent a Dog? Yes! You Can.

by Carrie Boyko
(c) photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009
Could I Rent Tanner Out to Strangers?
 Absolutely Not!

Imagine going on vacation without your furry best friend. You miss him. You feel lonely without him to romp with in the park or simply take a stroll for fresh air. And who will snuggle at your feet while you sleep?

Enter Rent-a-Fido. You think I'm kidding, right? Nope. I read about this a while back, but got few details from the article in Huffington Post, so I didn't follow up. I suppose I did not take it too terribly seriously until today, when I stumbled on The Responsibility Project. This article had me gagging for a few minutes, thinking of an unsuspecting pup getting thrown into a new owner's car every day.

After an hour or so of contemplation, I convinced myself there cannot really be a huge market for this, not at the prices quoted on the Flexpetz site. OMG!  Then I read the part of their website that quoted their net worth. Let's just say it would pay the vet bills of most of the US this year.

I tried to brainstorm reasons for renting a dog that could be considered, well, dog-friendly. You know--safe. I find myself worrying about the safety of the dog in this crazy world we live in. A few possibilities that occurred to me are:

  • People who work long hours might like a pal for a Saturday afternoon.
  • Dogs are considered "chick-magnets", right?
  • People who travel a great deal might enjoy a dog for a weekend at home.
  • Testing out dog ownership for a few days. Okay, maybe this could be a good thing. At least, as long as the dog has a regular home to go back to and the renter has been thoroughly background checked. How can they know that the dog will be treated lovingly, if not humanely? Stomach ache starting...
  • A dog lover who lives in dog-unfriendly housing might enjoy a day out with Rover.
  • Flexpetz, the company that has fashioned this concept, explains their idea as a great way for owners to try out pets before they adopt. Their press release at this link describes what they do as a good deed for animals in humane societies and such. Their website FAQs explain the training, veterinary care, regular caregiver, and holistic food that is all part of these dog's daily life, at least until they are permanently adopted. Hmmm...softening a bit.
Traveling without my dogs is always worrisome to me. Are they enjoying their playtime at their doggie daycare playground? At their favorite Bow Wow Resort, I don't worry, at least not much. But all those dogs who get boarded in kennels...well, I just don't like to think about that. But would it help me to rent another dog while I was on vacation? Absolutely not. I love dogs, and I would enjoy the companionship of the dog. But it would not stop me from thinking of my own, or worrying about this rental dog's experiences to come tomorrow or the next day.

After reading Flexpets FAQs, I found myself feeling guilty for hating this company. Not that I can support it entirely, but they do seem to cover all their bases. Vets, trainers, renters' training, etc. There is one thing, though, that is eating at me. The renters. There are no hidden cameras or 'flies on the wall' to assure these pups are treated with love and respect. Sure, the trainer meets them and gives them a session on consistent training of the dog. But we really don't know what happens when the door is closed behind the trainer.

While I can totally see all three of my dogs enjoying an experience with a friendly, loving temporary caregiver, my dogs are the epitome of well-socialized. I don't say that to brag; it's simply that they get a lot of socialization time. They go with me on errands, visit a doggie daycare weekly for playtime, spend occasional days with Grandma, romp at the dog park weekly with dozens of 'friends', and love to travel and meet new people.

But my biggest worry won't seem to go away. Even people loving dogs would be unhappy in a temporary home with a renter whose intentions are not about companionship. I don't think I could sleep at night if I worked for this company. What do you think? Let's get some dialog going. Opinions? The comment link is at the bottom of the post.

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Patti said...

This sounds like a good idea in theory and I am sure most people are well-intentioned when they want to try out a dog before buying but I would never let my dogs be "rented out" to a stranger. I think it would also confuse the dog as to why he is being taken from his home and put into a car with someone he doesn't way would I do this....!

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

I'm totally with you there, Patti. Thanks for the comment.

Donna said...

My husband travels a lot and I get so lonely when he's away. I would live to rent a dog!

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