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Want to Rent a Dog for a Day?

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FlexPetz, pro and con

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What if you don't want a dog all the time? Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Wish you had a dog but don't want the responsibility of full-time pet ownership? FlexPetz has a plan for you. Sign up for the company's "flexible dog ownership program" and a pooch can be yours — for as long as you want, and not a minute longer.

FlexPetz rep Chris Haddix came on our show today to talk about the business and to defend it against people saying that part-time pets are bound to have problems.

Personally, I could use a part-time dog — especially when I'm out there walking our family's full-time terrier in the predawn — but I've got my questions about actually getting a part-time dog. You?

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a college friend used to joke about starting up this kind of business, but with the purpose of renting dogs to guys who wanted to meet girls. my friend figured that if a girl liked the dog (and the guy) enough, the guy would HAVE to buy the dog, and that's where the business would make money. (at least that would solve the problem of consistency of contact with owners/renters.)

Sent by elaine | 12:13 PM | 12-19-2007

Such a great idea!

Sent by Lauren | 12:44 PM | 12-19-2007

They stole my idea! I've often joked with my husband that I would love to be able to rent a dog for the day. You know, that wonderful spring day when it would be fun to take Sully to the park and play frisbee. All without having to take him out during a cold drizzle in January and pick up his poo.

Sent by Grant | 1:12 PM | 12-19-2007

As a human mom of 4 precious pups (Border Collie, Sheepdog and 2 Dobies), I think this is a horrible idea and just one more demostration that Americans have gone over the edge as capitalists. Dogs are not property to be measured by their economic value -- they are living beings who through some evolutionary wonder are possessed with an inate gift of loyalty and love for their human companions.

This business is disgusting -- and any person patronizing it should seriously consider re-evaluating their personal values.

Shame, shame, shame -- just because money can be made -- does not mean it should be! Nor just because a service seems novel and trendy should people fall for it.

Sent by Tammy | 1:47 PM | 12-19-2007

When you get right down to it, how is this conceptually any different from those hotels and B&Bs that have a house dog (such as the Fairmount Copley here in Boston) or house cats that people can request to stay in their rooms because they miss their own pets back home? Or those nursing homes and senior centers that bring in dogs or cats to provide company for their residents?

Personally, I'm lucky: my wife and I own our own home, which I work out of, and so we're able to provide the care and companionship that a dog (a pug darn near as adorable as the one in that photo), three cats and three birds need. Not everyone is as lucky as I am in those regards, and rather than melodramatically pronouncing "shame, shame, shame" on those people who can't take care of a dog full-time but crave the companionship a well-trained dog provides, I say why shouldn't they have the same opportunity if they're willing to pay for it?

Obviously, I would prefer that people rescue animals from their local shelters and take them into good, caring homes. But I'm also enough of a grown-up to know that's not always an option.

Sent by Stewart | 2:45 PM | 12-19-2007

gross.
Must we commodify everything!?
I see the point that this provides shelter dogs a home/homes that they might not otherwise have but my concern here is less with the damage done to the dogs as much as it is with the degradation of our collective ethic.
If you want a dog move to a place where you can have a dog and care for a dog and develop whatever sort of relationship it is that dog people like to develop with dogs. If you can't have a dog visit other peoples dogs but for god sake don't rent them out for the weekend.
Would we set up a similar service for people who really wanted children but didn't have the ability to make the full time commitment? (someone out there is already getting ideas.)

I don't mean to suggest that dogs are like children (in all ways) but I do think that treating living things as commodities devalues them and this is a bad bad place for us to find ourselves if we wish to think of our society as one that values life and integrity over whims and image.

Sent by Mark | 8:33 PM | 12-19-2007

Dogs deserve a life long home and an owner who cares about them. Dogs that are taken from a shelter to go to flex petz are dogs that would have been adopted to a life long home with an owner who truly cares about their well being. Flex Petz sends the message that it is ok for people to take and leave a dog, a message shelters are already trying to counter with hundreds of thousands of dogs being abandoned each year because their owners were not willing to take responsibility for their pets. If you want to spend time with a dog but can't make a lifetime commitment, don't rent a dog, help save a life - foster an animal who needs a little TLC before they are ready for adoption or volunteer for an animal shelter and walk a dog every weekend.

Sent by Joe | 11:54 AM | 12-20-2007

We are a society bogged down by semantics. If we changed "renting" to "fostering" it would be hailed as a great thing for animals needing a home.

I would love a dog, but the reality is that my work schedule doesn't afford the free time needed. I inquired at my local animal shelter about taking a dog home for a week while I was on vacation. I was told that they only allow cats to be taken home on a temporary basis. I think this program should be extended to dogs as well.

What is worst? A dog owner who is away from home 10 to 12 hours a day, or a person who is willing to donate an entire week or weekend to a dog that doesn't have a home. I think most dog owners are selfish and leave dogs unattended for extended periods.

There are plenty of dogs that can use and would love a temporary home. I even think this should be extended to pet owners who need extended pet sitters. Instead of paying for boarding, I'm sure there are people out there willing to have a dog for a week or two and do it for free.

I would be against dogs used specifically for renting, but there are plenty of shelter dogs that could benefit.

Sent by Derek | 10:06 PM | 12-20-2007