Borrowing a dog gives us a part-time pet

Borrowing a dog gives us a part-time pet

I kept badgering – and we are one step closer

‘ Let’s talk about it when he’s three.” If I had put ?1 away every time my husband had said those words, I’d have enough to buy one of those poodle-schnoodle breeds that every first-time family dog owner seem to go for. No, make that a fiver – have you seen how much those dogs cost?

His reasons for waiting till our second child is older were practical but still frustrating. Managing two children under five was hard enough, let along throwing a puppy into the mix. More poo to clear up, more dirt in the house, more training, more mayhem. To my husband a dog simply means more stress, and why would any sane person inflict that on themselves? For fun, of course!

While my husband didn’t rush out and buy a puppy on our son’s third birthday (I kind of hoped he would …) he did introduce me to the joys of borrowmydoggy.

It works like a dating website, but, instead of life partners, you search for compatible pooches. Dog owners post details of their pets, complete with cute pics, while prospective “sharers” try to win them over with their dog-whispering abilities.

Both parties are then matched up, based on distance and availability – and members pick the ones they like the look of. It helps if you have an idea of the type of dog you want to look after – and which breeds or crosses will suit your lifestyle. With small children I ruled out anything that looked dangerous. I also avoided those of a nervous disposition.

Even with these filters, there are still more than 100 suitable dogs in my postcode area, so finding one you fancy isn’t the hard part, it’s narrowing the list down to your favourite few. You then message the owners asking if they’d be interested in a meeting for a “welcome woof” and things go from there. Some never make it past the first email, while others blossom into permanent arrangements.

With the help of co-founder Les Cochrane, a web designer she met on a business start-up weekend, the first site was built in two hours

The idea for a dog-sharing website came from Rikke Rosenlund, in 2012, when she offered to look after a friend’s chocolate labrador (or choc lab, for those in doggy circles).

“It made me think there should be a website where owners can have their pets taken care of by people who absolutely adore dogs and miss having one in their life,” says Rosenlund, who moved from Denmark to the UK nine years ago. “There is no need for a dog to be at home alone or to pay for a dog walker when there are loads of people who adore dogs but can’t have one.”

They advertised with a few posters and within three days 85 people had signed up. At first, Rosenlund matched people to dogs manually, while she was still working in financial services and business development. But when members began to climb into the thousands, Cochrane built an online matching platform, which they launched in . They now get thousands of new members every week, from all over Britain, and a staff of nine manages the site.

“When we started out we asked our members why they had signed up and the letters I received made me cry,” says Rosenlund. “They ranged from a student studying in the UK who grew up on a farm in Australia and missed her dog, to an elderly man who wasn’t able to take his dog on long walks and needed help. Dogs have so much love to give, plus taking them for walks means you get out and meet people. While BorrowMyDoggy was set up to provide dog lovers with canine companionship, it is also about human friendships.”