How can I borrow a dog in NYC?
March 9, 2016 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way that a non-dog-owner could get some dog therapy in NYC, ASAP?

My boyfriend is having a really tough go of things right now. He's had a year of really bad luck, and the world keeps punching him while he's down. Yesterday, to top off an already awful horrible stressful sad week, he lost his grandmother and can't even attend the funeral. What I'm saying is: he needs a lot of love, and ASAP, and one of the things that really does it for him is dogs.

It would be an amazing thing to have some quality time with a dog, any dog as long as it's a safe one to be around (and hopefully, at least a little affectionate). Being able to do something distracting together like walking or playing would be ideal, but I'll take what I can get :).

Unfortunately, none of our local friends have dogs and all shelters/rescue organizations that I'm aware of require a long-term commitment that neither of us can make (plus they require training and onboarding that takes a decent amount of time - I understand that completely and support it, it's just inconvenient right now!). Hanging out at dog parks is fine but I've heard it's regarded as creepy and I don't think it's really possible to get QT with a dog that isn't yours there.

I've never been to any shelters - are there specific ones that are a little bit more free about letting people hang out with dogs, even if they're not going to adopt? Are there any options I might not have thought about? It's a long shot, but I know that strangers in the city who wouldn't mind having someone handle a walk for them must exist - but is there a world in which I could actually find someone like that and convince them to trust me?

Also, I'm happy to pay a decent amount of money - if I could rent a therapy dog, I'd do it in a minute. If there's a shelter that might be amenable to playtime in exchange for a donation, fine by me.
posted by R a c h e l to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So...any mefites want a free amateur dog walker or doggy day care?
posted by R a c h e l at 1:35 PM on March 9, 2016

I know that BARC shelter in Williamsburg does have volunteer options that do not require a long-term commitment. Your boyfriend may have to fill out a screening form before his first time, but that may only be the once.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:37 PM on March 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

You could try Bark’N’Borrow.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:46 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Schedule a MeFi meetup at a dog park.
posted by matildaben at 2:19 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

You could post a Mefi Jobs listing where you offer some nominal fee in exchange for someone letting you play with their dog. (I'm not super familiar with the Jobs subsite, so you may want to make sure that's an okay use of the site first.)

I'll second the mefi meetup idea, as well. That was my first thought.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:25 PM on March 9, 2016

Another thing to look into is that there may be therapy dogs in training that need opportunities for socialization, potentially in a less structured environment than what is required for volunteer work at shelters. I don't know if this is actually a thing, but it could be another avenue to research.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:28 PM on March 9, 2016

How about a short term foster? A lot of times rescues need them to be able to get a dog out quickly.
posted by Vaike at 2:33 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried it personally, but the New York Times had an article a few months back on the Bark'N'Borrow service that JaredSeth suggested.
posted by merejane at 2:42 PM on March 9, 2016

Just go to a dog park and hang out for a few hours, it's really not creepy at all. My dog likes to run around between people who are not me and receive the love and scritches of strangers. It's not uncommon (at least here in Chicago) to have someone without a dog come hang at a public dog park for a while just to pet dogs.
posted by phunniemee at 2:42 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

BARC was my first thought, too. The screening form is like one page. And they are very nice. Old-school Williamsburg types.
posted by praemunire at 2:52 PM on March 9, 2016

You can always go to an adoption event and pretend you're considering a dog but not actually be considering a dog. I have pet many dogs this way. There are several this weekend, although most seem like they might be small which means more competition for any individual dog:
posted by babelfish at 2:55 PM on March 9, 2016

Former NYC dog walker here. Going to a dog park sans dog is not creepy. I'd recommend going at lunchtime rather than later on as lunchtime dog park crowds are generally mostly either dog walkers or people who work at home out for a break and so are friendlier. Don't bring treats. That can make people suspicious. Be respectful and I'm sure he'll find a friendly welcome.
posted by merocet at 3:13 PM on March 9, 2016

Thank y'all! We'll definitely try to make it to BARC tomorrow (every day but Wednesday? C'mon, world...). I'm also on Bark'n'borrow and have googled up some dog parks. Never too much dog.

Unfortunately things like fostering are off limits because our lives are completely in flux and it's hard to know what city we'll even be in come April, let alone what apartment.

Marking as resolved, but if there are more suggestions, keep 'em coming. I'll DEFINITELY be reading them.
posted by R a c h e l at 3:54 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is it TRULY impossible for you two to adopt from a shelter? There are several bonuses to this: a) they let you pet the dogs when you are looking to adapt; b) the love and dogginess is there all the time, day and night and c) you, too, will have a doggy in your life.

My other suggestion, and this is usually quite feasible, especially if you are in an apartment building or near one, is for him to volunteer to be a free dog walker for your neighbor dog owners.
posted by bearwife at 4:39 PM on March 9, 2016

Oh, and let me add that in all contact with dogs, invest in some delicious doggy treats like crunchy chicken bits. Guaranteed love and affection will follow from every canine.
posted by bearwife at 4:48 PM on March 9, 2016

Please don't give dogs unapproved treats. For example my dog has a severe chicken allergy and their would be huge problems for her if someone gave her a treat (including bleeding).

But absolutely feel free to ask of it is ok, as treats for dogs do make them happy.
posted by Vaike at 4:53 PM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'd recommend DogVacay. You don't necessarily have to offer dog hosting services if that would not work with your lifestyle/living space. They also take dog sitting (in the dog's home) and dog walking. You can post your availability on a calendar dog owners can check. I've used it for dog sitting and dog walking and highly recommend it.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 5:11 PM on March 9, 2016

Any therapy dog should be perfect for your purposes. You could try reaching out to Therapy Dogs International for any members in your area (and I'm sure there are plenty) or, alternatively, a facility where therapy dogs regularly visit. Giving love where it's needed is what therapy dogs are all about. My little guy is in the Chicago area, or I'd immediately volunteer him. And good for you for thinking of this.
posted by DrGail at 5:24 PM on March 9, 2016

Any therapy dog should be perfect for your purposes.
posted by DrGail

Well, yeah, but. One of my dogs is a therapy dog (in Tennessee or we'd help you out, OP) and it may be a little more complicated than just calling a therapy dog outfit and scheduling an appointment. My organization requires both volunteers (me) and facility representatives (the schools, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices we visit) to attend a mandatory orientation meeting and the matchmaking needs to be done by the organization's management.

This is all because of liability insurance. If my dog were to bite someone (inconceivable!) or trip someone or whatever while she is on assignment, we are covered by the University of Tennessee's liability insurance. If she bit or tripped someone under any other circumstances, well, she's just like any other dog then, and I/my homeowner's insurance is on the hook.

All this is to say that I think you'll have better luck doing this informally, by visiting a dog park or a business that has a dog-in-residence.
posted by workerant at 6:02 PM on March 9, 2016

I also lost my grandma yesterday, can't travel, and I have a dog. We're near McCarren park; if you want to come pet her and hang out feeling quietly sad with a mefi stranger, memail me.
posted by felix grundy at 6:18 PM on March 9, 2016 [18 favorites]

Sean Casey Animal Rescue will let you do this.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:20 PM on March 9, 2016

On my most miserable grad school days, I would stop by Citipups on my way home and play with their puppies for a few minutes. I do NOT believe in purchasing pets, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Not sure how other shops do it but they were always happy to pull out a playpen for anyone who asked, and I decided that the mutual benefit to myself and the pups overruled my guilt about helping the store out in any way.
posted by yeahlikethat at 8:52 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Uber sometimes has promotions where they will bring you puppies to snuggle with for $30. It's in the hope that people might adopt some, but it's absolutely not required. I tried to look up to see if they are doing it in NYC right now and the closest report I found was from February. But that doesn't mean it's not ongoing. You could check the uber app to see if there's an option for it, or contact their customer service to see when it's next scheduled.
posted by lollusc at 9:43 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

You could try signing up for TrustedSitter if you're up for pet sitting.
posted by jrobin276 at 10:28 PM on March 9, 2016

I have a profile on rover for just this reason (and get to make some cash at the same time)
posted by cacao at 4:30 AM on March 10, 2016

I take my boys to Ft Greene Park before 9 am, which is "off the leash" time for all doggies. Let me tell you what—it is heaven. Bonkers-happy dogs bounding, playing, running, jumping on people. Seriously, now that it's insanely nice out, there are dogs as far as the eye can see, throughout the whole park.

Would that do it? If you let me know you're coming, I'd be happy to let y'all cuddle my 15-year-old, toothless bucket of snerffle-y kisses. (Who I just adopted from BARC Shelter, which is also a fantastic way to get some doggie time. )
posted by functionequalsform at 6:42 AM on March 10, 2016

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