Jennifer Jolly, of Oakland, California, desperately wanted a dog—but her landlady said it was a no-go. Cats only, no dogs allowed. Thanks to a new app, however, she’s getting to enjoy some doggie companionship without having to convert her landlord from cat lady to canine lover.
Having a dog around isn’t just about having fun with a Frisbee. Research shows that having a dog by your side can have immense benefits for your physical and psychological health. Dogs motivate us to be more active, and their simple presence is a powerful stress reliever. But how does one get to enjoy these benefits if living in pet-friendly accommodations isn’t possible? And, of course, some people have other obstacles that get in the way of opening their home to a permanent canine addition to their family—they might work long hours, have a family member with allergies, or face some other challenge that leaves them dogless.
Now, however, there is a way to experience what pups can bring to your life, without the lifetime commitment. Bark N’ Borrow, a smartphone app, offers a special matchmaking service. People who can’t own dogs can be matched with dogs that can use a boost to their social lives. Bark N’ Borrow introduced Jennifer and her daughter Jeneva to a little wiggling, snorting bundle of bliss that is Pickles, the French bulldog.
To use Barn N’ Borrow, Jennifer had to set up a profile—almost like a dating service. She included her photo, her contact information, and her reasons for looking for a puppy playdate. She also added what sort of qualities she was looking for in her potential short-term canine companion. The matchmaking service is free.
When she took her profile live, she got two immediate hits in her local area: Pickles and a golden retriever named Ringo. Pickles’ owner, Kirsten Harris, responded to Jennifer almost immediately. They communicated by email, and then by phone, and Harris (and Pickles!) agreed to meet up with Jennifer.
At 15 lbs and only five months old, Pickles already had a whole list of “borrowers” that have enjoyed his company now and then. As Jennifer reported in the New York Times, Harris told her that “the motto of the French bulldog is ‘Love the one you’re with,” and Pickles is all too thrilled to live up to his breed’s well-earned reputation for easy-going affection. Chasing leaves, investigating fallen apples, play wrestling, and snuggling in for the night with his new friends came as second nature to the friendly little guy. Jolly reported that “Our night with Pickles was everything we had hoped for and more.”
Bark N’ Borrow is a great way for dog owners to reach out to the dog-less and share the love. It also offers pet-sitter matching services, and dog owner-to-dog owner services to help pups meet compatible canine friends for their own puppy playdates. Similar services include Walkzee, based in San Francisco, and BorrowMyDoggy in Britain and Ireland. So even if you’re not in the right place to adopt a forever friend, don’t let that stop you from getting a healthy dose of puppy love!