Last week I saw a news item on TV. It was on the business section and I filed away my concerns to examine it later. In the show, there was this eager entrepreneur who has come up with an app that can help connect pet owners with those that would like to have pets. A token payment of $50 would be needed to register. He also said that they do comprehensive background checks on their clients to ensure safety of the dogs.
Over the last week, I have wrestled with this concept to see the positives but unfortunately, I think I have not been successful. For example, the main argument against capital punishment is that even if one person was wrongfully convicted and executed, it is one too many. Similarly, even a single case of callous dog handling is one too many in my book because unlike men, dogs cant even express their choice and be heard.
My personal experience with my dogs is that they are like kids. They trust the owners and offer unconditional love and bond very strongly. When we travel overseas for vacations, we are fortunate to have Doris who takes care of them and both Ruffy and Corrie are comfortable with her. However, once a year we take vacations and at that time, I can see Ruffy getting distressed because he knows he will not see us for a while. Doris has a small gate to keep the dogs from escaping, Ruffy acts like a child left at Kindergarten and struggles against the gate to reach us. Corrie is generally confused and takes a little longer to realize the situation.They are buddies and always like to be together.
Pets have a routine. Our vet says they are a creature of habits. Every morning, they roll on the carpet before heading out to the backyard. There they inspect the perimeters and do their business and go looking for our neighbours dog to socialize across the chicken mesh fence. Then they come for the morning biscuits. Corrie hides her biscuit daily to eat later in the day and steals Ruffys biscuit and brings it to us. She expects us to break it to smaller pieces for her to eat. This happens daily without fail. Then they sleep for a couple of hours and expect lunch at 10 a.m after which they want to go out to check the back yard and on returning home, they play with each other for the next 20 minutes running all over the place. They know the corners of the house intimately. Some times, while we are all watching TV, Corrie would jump off the sofa and go to the basement or upstairs and bring a biscuit she had hidden and start eating it.
They have learned to communicate with us to express basic needs like wanting to go out, drink water, be fed or be bored. We instantly recognize what they are trying to say and they get what they want. Every time we go out, they are anxious and sit at the window waiting for us to return and every time we return home, we get a one minute welcome with tails wagging and expression of delight. This is followed with a few minutes of play.
The point I am trying to make is that Dog ownership is not an instant commodity. It is not like you can pick up a guitar and play or jump into the cockpit of a plane and fly. You need patience, learning and efforts to discharge the responsibility required of a human to the pet that is dependent on you for its existence and well being. Dogs need to be walked, you need to pick up after your dog, you have to feed them timely and know their demeanor so that you can spot it if they are not well and take them to the vet.
Pet ownership is not an easy decision. It is a major commitment. Every Easter, we still have instances of parents buying bunnies for their children. These bunnies end up wild and discarded after Easter. Just last week, I stepped on dog poop in a dog park. Failure of some one to clean up after their dog. Ditto on the walking trials. There are dogs up for adoption at the local shelter and many are abused and neglected and are now hoping to be in a good family.
If the dogs were in the wild and we never took them in, then let nature take its course. However the moment a dog becomes a pet, it is unforgivable for us to not fulfill or responsibility of care.
After looking at all the angles, the most problematic issue for me with this concept is the exchange of money. If all pet owners cared for their pets, this business will never take off but for those pet owners who consider the pet to be an accessory, they have two choices. First choice is to go to a professional dog sitter and pay to get their dog taken care of while they are away. The second choice is the new approach of giving their dog to aspiring pet lovers who will take care of the dog while they are away. Either the pet owners will pay them or will get paid depending on the website you choose.
The puppy mills have been a big problem where some dogs have had 6 or 7 litters before they are abandoned. The puppies are crammed into small spaces etc. With the prospect of earning money for giving your pet to some one else for a few days will bring in the prospect of puppy farms expanding into this area to make money. It will exacerbate the existing problem further. Not to mention potential unfortunate events where litigation would ensue as to who is at fault. My dogs would miss their routine if sent out frequently to others. They need each other and will be miserable if they were at different places away from each other. I would assume other dogs are similar. Diet changes make them sick, I think it is the same for other dogs.
I think that people who are genuinely interested in pet ownership will take the effort to learn and actually commit to owning a pet instead of renting one. I would request anyone who reads this article to send your comments on how best to combat this new problem.