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Meet Walkzee, Airbnb for Dogs

Meet Walkzee, Airbnb for Dogs: Laura Bittner / Flickr

Laura Bittner / Flickr

Walking the Venice boardwalk with my cousin, we lamented the fact neither of us has a dog. As we watched people stroll past with their dogs, I told my cousin it seems ridiculous that in a world where there’s an app for you to pay to sleep in someone’s bedroom, it would be weird if I walk up to one of these nice-looking couples having lunch at a sidewalk cafe, and said “hey, can I rent your dog for like an hour?” Like, no one would be cool with me offering them ten bucks to borrow their bulldog. What an epic fail for the share economy. How hasn’t anyone figured out a way for me to rent someone’s pet?

My cousin agreed it is a shame you can’t walk up to strangers and try to rent their pets. And then, he struck genius. He said, “You should start a new app and call it RentADog.com.”

I reacted with all the typical cool calm demeanor of a half-drunk hockey fan, “That’s fucking genius!” I practically screamed at him. “It’d be like Uber … for dogs! It’d be like airBnB for someone’s fur babies! It’s brilliant!”

The strange part was – I couldn’t think of any pent-renting apps. Nor had I ever heard of anyone loaning out their labrador for side loot. I had to check. I pulled out my phone. Could it be possible no one has made a site called RentMyPet.com?

Google was quick to answer. Would you believe it? No one’s using RentMyPet.com (but the domain name’s unavailable). When I searched for the phrase “rent a pet” I found news stories that showed how over the last ten years people have tried but the idea never took hold. Perhaps, they were too early-to-market. But now, with Uber and Lyft and airBnB leading the way, people might not find it so odd to loan out their pets for pay.

After a little more searching, I found BorrowMyDoggy.com My first thought was: Shit. It’s the exact same idea.

My second thought was: of course, they’d already have an app like this in the UK – Brits love a dog show the way Americans love a gun show.

Which was soon followed by my third thought: guess my new pet-renting app isn’t such a million-dollar idea. (And, I had to admit, they’d picked a far cuter name: Borrow My Doggy.)

But when I tried to register with the site so I could start borrowing strangers’ animals, I discovered it was only available in the United Kingdom. (Hmm. Maybe there are still millions to be made.)

I checked back with Google. There must be someone in America who’s figured out a way to service the market of pathetic pet-less people like me. I’m sure there’s an app to help me plop down my hard-earned pay so I can chill with a stranger’s fur baby. (And I really hope I never have to earnestly refer to anyone’s pet as their fur baby, because I’d likely laugh in their face and blow the whole deal.) After some more googling, I found there are few ways you can rent a pup but, by far, my favorite was a brand new app for renting pets and the good news is …. it’s for Americans!

Of course, when I started reading about the new app I felt terrible. (This is what I do whenever I see how much capitalism has scarred my way of thinking.) You see, I always imagined it like “RentMyPet.com … it’s like Uber … but for dogs.” I saw all the dollars you could make off animal ownership. While you’re at work, your dog could be making your rent. All you have to do is line-up a few dog-less strangers like me who wanna borrow your dog for like an hour or so and… Jesus. As I read the site for this new dog-renting app I saw how my idea was basically: Let’s pimp out people’s pet! Yeah! We’ll treat pets like short furry prostitutes!

There’s a wholly different way you can look at the idea of renting pets. You can consider the question: what would be good for the dog?

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That’s the genius of this new app Walkzee. They partner up people who don’t have a dog but really wanna hang out with one with dogs who desperately need to get outside. Walkzee is designed to help rescue dogs get the exercise they need by having strangers show up at the shelter and take them for walks. The app isn’t on the market yet, but they have a Kickstarter page.

On the Walkzee site they lay out their mission:

-create an online platform to build on the successful dog shelter field trip programs -build a community of dog-lovers and convert them into volunteers -improve the lives of shelter dogs -promote shelter dogs as great pets

Aren’t those some dope-ass goals for a new app? Improving lives, building communities, creating a network of volunteers … and you still get to hang out with a dog. What a genius way to use the share economy to improve the lives of everyone involved. Perhaps, one day people will say, “It’s like Walkzee … but for soup kitchens.”

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