If you follow me on social media, you might’ve noticed a bit of dog-related content on my stories recently.
As much as I would love a dog someday, none of the lovely dogs are actually mine.
At the start of the year, I wondered whether it was time to get another pet. My beloved cat Wigsy passed away towards the end of 2021, and I sometimes missed having pet company.
I had always loved dogs, and they seemed to love me back, but we never had dogs when we were growing up. We were very much a cat/rabbit/hamster/guinea pig kind of household (now is not the time to mention the stick insect phase/incident!). I just had to rely on friends’ dogs to make a fuss of now and again.
Last year, a few Instagram friends posted photos of dogs they were looking after, and it left me wanting to find out more.
It turned out they had signed up to an app called Borrow My Doggy, where you can get to know local dog owners who might be looking for someone to look after their dogs. They might want their dog looked after for various reasons, but most of the time, it seems to be while they are at work, on holiday or away for the weekend.
Straight away, I knew this was something that I could do. I’m always heading out for walks, so I knew I could give them plenty of exercise whilst they were in my company. And it would give me a great excuse to get up from my desk throughout the day to give them some fuss.
How do I sign up?
The process for signing up to Borrow My Doggy is really straightforward. First of all, you need to create a profile. I uploaded a photo of myself and wrote a description outlining why I wanted to look after dogs and a bit about my experience with dogs. You can choose whether you’re looking for a dog for some company or some exercise (or both!), and your availability, i.e. do you want to look after them at weekends, evenings, or weekdays?
You can sign up to the app for free, but this doesn’t allow you to contact dog owners. You can still browse the dog profiles without parting with your money, but you need to become a Premium Member to send messages. The sign-up fee set me back just £12.99 for the year, which includes access to a 24/7 vet line and insurance.
Note that signing up to Borrow my Doggy is not a way to make money. Borrowers do not get paid for looking after dogs, and I would only recommend signing up if you really are a dog lover.
What happens next?
What happens next is entirely up to you. Borrow my Doggy suggest going through dog profiles and liking them, and they also advise you to send a message to the owners to find out more about looking after their dog.
I have to admit that when I signed up, I liked a lot of dog profiles, but I was lucky that each of the dogs I now look after their owners contacted me.
Amber’s human was the first to message me to see if I would like to meet up with her and Amber to get to know one another.
We ended up meeting twice before I started to look after Amber on my own, and I now look after her once a week whilst both of her humans are at work.
With the other two dogs I look after, Stella and Holly, I only met their owners once before they trusted me to start looking after their dogs.
You will also need to discuss with your dog owner if they are happy for you to take their beloved dog off their lead when you’re out walking them. None of mine have come off so far, except for when they are indoors, but I can’t stress the importance of having this discussion with the owner first, just in case something should go amiss. Both you and the dog must be ready before you take this step.
How many dogs can I look after at any one time?
To my knowledge, there is no limit to how many dogs you can look after, but I have decided that three is the magic number for me, and I always aim to avoid having them on the same day (I know my limits!). I look after Amber regularly, but my time with Holly and Stella is more ad-hoc. Holly’s human has regular hospital appointments and doesn’t like to leave her alone, so that’s where I come in. Stella’s human is recovering from a recent illness, but when she’s well, she’s hoping to travel again. So we’re building up to me looking after Stella when she’s away.
For me, it’s about more than looking after dogs.
As much as I love looking after the dogs, it’s lovely getting to know their owners too. Whilst Holly’s human is a little more reserved, Amber’s human is of a similar age to me and chatting with her is always easy, and Stella’s human is just one of those people I connected to instantly.
Things to consider before you sign up
If you love the sound of Borrow My Doggy so far, here are some other things to take into consideration before you take the next step:
- How much time do you actually have to spare? As I work from home, I thought it would give me plenty of time to look after a dog! But when you first get to know them, you quickly learn that they and their owners all have little quirks and needs that you need to adjust to, and it can take more time than you think it will! Some owners love to stop and chat when you collect their dogs and drop them off. Some dogs need a longer walk than others. And they will all be trained differently, with different levels of discipline required!
- You will need to pick up dog poop! I know this might sound obvious, but I’ve never had to worry about picking dog poop up before, and I was super worried about doing this for the first time. I was sure I would end up smearing poop on the outside of the poo bag and get myself covered in it! Thankfully, there have been no disasters so far! But it’s not for the faint-hearted.
- Do you have kids and other pets? Some dogs are not used to children and pets, so this is definitely something to discuss with the dog owners before you take on their dog.
And if none of these things worries you, I say go for it! I’ve loved getting to know Amber, Stella and Holly so far, although it has also made me realise that I’m not quite ready to commit to a full-time pet again. But that’s the beauty of Borrow my Doggy. No matter how long you have the dog, you know you will be handing them back at the end of the day/weekend/week.
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