“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ~ Will Rogers
I’ve been asked this question countless times.
I love dogs, but due to my work schedule, frequent vacations and lack of a yard, there hadn’t been a furry pet in my life for quite some time.
I missed having a dog friend and often wished I had one at home. That was until I learned about Borrow-A-Dog. Now, my neighbor introduces me as the “co-parent” of his golden retriever, Sadie.
I highly recommend this course of action if you want a pet in your life, but are unable to have one for yourself. You get all the benefits of having a pet in your life, are closer with your neighbor and are still free to be a commitment-phobe until you get a proper dog-friendly pad.
Here are some benefits of borrowing a dog:
I get all the love, company, fun, attention and exercise without the cost and time constraints of owning a pet. My friend buys the healthy vitamin food, anti-tangle brush, soft shampoo and squeaky toys; he pays the vet bills, supplies the leash and had to house train her when she was a puppy. In my Los Angeles neighborhood, the city even supplies doodie bags on the corner. I simply show up (unless I’m feeling generous and want to contribute chewy cookies and a new orange ball).
2. I’m doing my neighbor a great favor.
It’s hard to care for a pet full time all by yourself. Most people appreciate someone taking the dog off their hands for a couple of hours. Anyone who has had a dog knows they can be extremely pushy about walks and attention and will do all sorts of things to distract one from work, including goobering all over your papers and moving your hands with their cold nose as you type. With my help, my neighbor can have extra quality time as I whisk away the dog for play hour. This generosity has made me closer to and more friendly with my neighbor; especially if I make Sadie exhausted enough that she leaves him alone to his work while doggie snores in the corner. I don’t forget, though, the favor works both ways. He’s letting me borrow his loved one so I have a friend, and that’s downright generous, as he’s not the jealous type. I’m grateful.
3. Instead of being the stern disciplinarian, I enjoy being the fun “aunt” or playmate.
I’m all fun and games, and Sadie looks forward to seeing me when I come. Training? That’s been accomplished already, just in time for me to come and enjoy the fruits of good behavior. When I arrive, Sadie probably ate already, too, and won’t chew my kitchen chairs, pee on my couch or steal muffins if she comes over.
4. A walk together in the morning sets the tone for the entire day.
There’s nothing like coming to the door and getting the cuddly, sloppy, half-asleep greeting that dog parents know so well, and then walking among the fresh trees and birds on a cool morning with this furry, floppy eared creature bouncing in front of me, smelling the bushes and looking for squirrels. It’s sure to put a smile on my face the rest of the day. This good vibration puts me in a positive, loving frame of mind, and that’s a great way to start the day. The same goes for the evening. Had a stressful day? Repeat the morning behavior, have a good sleep. Maybe your dog friend can sit with you for an hour or so, as Sadie often does with me. Just clear the times with the main squeeze.
5. I meet people that I normally wouldn’t.
People love dogs and will go out of their way to greet you if you have one with you. Unfortunately, I’ve had people greet only the dog (silence). It’s nice to socialize with other dog parents, and I’ve gotten to know people in my neighborhood who have a nice walking routine. Plus, these people become extra affectionate when they learn that I am dog-borrowing. At first, they pet the dog with a confused expression and say, “Wait, isn’t this Sadie from over there?” They don’t need to know that I’m the one who benefits most from the exchange.
It’s healthy to walk, and walking with a dog makes one walk faster and more often. In addition, it gets me off my butt knowing that my furry friend is waiting to go and will be disappointed if I don’t show. Walking is good for the mind, body and spirit. I also get to know the neighborhood and am more in tune with the pulse of the city being on foot. Not only am I bonding with my dog buddy, I’m also bonding with my neighborhood.
7. Much like an aunt does, at the end, I return the child to the parents.
Thinking of dog-borrowing? Here are some fair rules:
- Don’t flake out on your obligations. If you establish a routine, stick to it. Both the owner and the dog are expecting you. Let them know if your schedule changes.
- Pick up poops on your walk and dispose of properly.
- Don’t take over or compete. It’s still your friend’s dog in the long run. Don’t interfere in the big decisions unless asked. Don’t compete for top dog or bribe for extra affections.
- Feed or treat the dog only what the owner feeds. Don’t sneak in items that may not be good for Fido or acceptable to the boss.
- Follow walking rules: use a leash, proceed with caution with other dogs, protect the dog from danger. Use your intuition on socializing.
- Things you might be able to help with: walking, feeding, babysitting overnight, playing, brushing, washing, picking up poops, massaging, training, and loving.
- If the dog stays with you, you’ll need: blanket, water dish, towel, blanket, toy from home, dog friendly clothes you can get dirty.
Approach the situation slowly and get to know the dog and the neighbor gradually. Eventually, offer to walk him or her (the dog, not the neighbor) to give them a break. It might be best to borrow a friend or family member’s dog first, as you are already familiar with each other.
Enjoy your new friend! Yes, you have a dog now.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Marcus Holmqvist at Pixoto