Can you pay to hang out with dogs in London?
December 3, 2018 12:30 PM   Subscribe

My partner loves dogs (sure, cats too, but mainly dogs). We can't have one of our own now for a variety of unrelated practical reasons. Are there any practical options in the London area for being around dogs on an occasional, ad-hoc basis?

I know it's a long shot.

I'm aware of therapy dogs, but although my partner nearly aches at not having a pet, I'm pretty sure this isn't that kind of situation. Meanwhile, it seems not so neighbourly to hang out at a dog park looking earnest and lonesome. None of our friends has a dog. We know there's a cat cafe around---let's stick with dogs for this question. The same reasons that make pet ownership impractical also rule out a dogsitting sideline or volunteering at a shelter---it's just not possible right now to assume that kind of responsibility.

Someday we will have a dog in our family, but that day is not today. In the meantime, some kind of service or business seems like the only practical option, assuming such a thing exists at all (and I'm guessing it does not). Does the hive mind know better?
posted by Chef Flamboyardee to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
There was an app called Bark and Borrow for this kind of thing that sadly no longer exists. There might be others. But I use Trusted Housesitters often as a petsitter—maybe this wouldn't work with your schedule, but there are a lot of people in London who need dogsitters when they travel, and perhaps you could spend a weekend or week with a dog that way.
posted by pinochiette at 12:51 PM on December 3, 2018

Best answer: I looked into this last year and found Borrow My Doggy - you pay around ten pounds for a year and get introduced to dogs in your area.

There's also the Cinnamon Trust which is a charity matching volunteers with elderly people who are no longer able to walk their pets.

Can't vouch for either but may be worth a look for you.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:53 PM on December 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Some friends have used the UK-based to good effect. Membership is "just over £1 a month" apparently. No other money exchanges hands, so far as I'm aware. It's just on a win-win basis: the owner gets to have a break from dog care, the dog borrower gets all their pup jollies.
posted by doornoise at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

We've been in the same position. (We now foster dogs, which may be something to keep in mind for the future; obligatory photo of our most recent Very Good Boy.)

It's hardly the best solution, but one thing we once did was "crash" a university's program that provided comfort dogs to stressed out students during exams. The dogs were just hanging out at the library and we made no claims of being students. I don't think the dogs minded.

Might be something to keep an eye on.
posted by veggieboy at 12:56 PM on December 3, 2018

If you lurk at the dog park at a popular, crowded time (a) I don't think anyone would notice or care. No one goes around accounting for unaccompanied humans, and (b) you probably would not be the only one.
posted by muddgirl at 12:58 PM on December 3, 2018

OMG Chiko!!!

In the States, dog parks have started putting up "no dogs unaccompanied by humans, no humans unaccompanied by dogs" signs. I hope that hasn't spread to the UK.
posted by praemunire at 1:48 PM on December 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. We'll give Borrow My Doggy a shot and see how it goes. More suggestions are still welcome...
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 2:04 PM on December 3, 2018

I can't answer specifically to London, but where I live the SPCA welcomes people who wants to drop in and help with the animals. You can go and take the dogs out to play etc and give them some love, which is awesome for both the humans and shelter dogs. If there's a shelter near you that does this, it's free AND helps the dogs at the shelter get more attention and exercise. A more formal volunteer arrangement is also an option of course!
posted by DTMFA at 4:08 PM on December 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

I was about to suggest what DTMFA did.
posted by terrapin at 4:22 PM on December 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

During a lull in employment, I was a volunteer dogwalker for a shelter for retired racing greyhounds. It was out in Kent, but I'm certain you'll be able find a shelter near you. I did it once a week instead of the gym: it got me outdoors in the beautiful countryside, and the dogs were beautiful and enthusiastic (and speedy).

UK shelters are overwhelmingly no-kill, so you don't need to worry about that.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:24 PM on December 3, 2018

Nth-ing what DTMFA and terrapin suggested - we did thatb at a shelter near us and it was awesome!
posted by Chairboy at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2018

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