As a child, I begged relentlessly for a puppy. I couldn’t understand why my parents didn’t want a fluffy companion in our lives. As it turns out, they were never anti-dog. In fact, when I was in college, they purchased a sweet Labrador puppy – the exact dog I had wanted as a child. Still oblivious to the amount of responsibility associated with a pet, my sister and I felt slightly cheated.
It’s difficult to travel when you’ve got a pet
Fast forward a couple of decades and this seemingly sad story falls under the category of: My parents knew what they were doing. You see, we moved overseas several times and travel was a big part of our lives. I went to four different elementary schools, and when my Dad was offered a project in Peru for a year, off we went. When I was roughly 12, we bought a house, dug a few roots, and we stayed put for a while. However, we still took extended trips to my parents’ home countries, in Europe and South America. We rarely went on holiday for less than a 3-week stint. My parents knew that a dog would have caused added expense and burden. Most importantly, it wouldn’t have been fair to the dog.
The dog dilemma
Sometimes history repeats itself, and this is what I have found as my traveling family navigates its way through the dog dilemma. In the past 5 years, we have moved overseas twice and inevitably, travel is a big part of our lives too. My daughters are genuine animal lovers and are desperate for a dog. Now we live in England, where everyone has a dog (or at least that’s what my kids tell me). My husband and I love dogs, and we know the physical and psychological benefits they can bring. Studies show that time spent with a dog can teach children about empathy, responsibility and nurturing. It can also improve self-esteem, social skills and encourage kids (and adults) to be more physically active. One might even argue that these points are particularly beneficial to kids who have moved around a lot.
A part-time dog!
This is why we feel fortunate to have what we believe is the ultimate compromise: a part-time dog.
The freethinking concept of a ‘sharing economy’ – peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services such as apartments (Airbnb) or cars (Zipcar) – has now extended into the world of pets, making it possible to borrow a four-legged companion. When I read about Borrow My Doggy, I knew that it had the potential to be perfect for our family. The best part is that it enhances the lives of people and dogs. It offers dog-lovers the opportunity to spend time with a dog without the burden and responsibility of ownership, while giving the owners the ability to leave their pet in a caring, domestic environment.
We have borrowed several dogs through this website, but last year we found a regular match that has allowed us to have a part-time dog that has bonded with each member of our family. When we have Ruby, our borrowed springer spaniel, I have a running companion, my kids have a cuddle companion and my husband gets licks and tail wags when he comes home from work. Ruby’s owners don’t have to rely on dog walkers or kennels when they are working or traveling. It’s certainly a win-win for the humans involved, but what I love most, is that this sweet, sociable pup has so many people who love her.
We’re still considering getting a dog of our own one day. Because if karma is in our favor, we might find a dog-loving family willing to borrow our doggy when we go away.
By Mandy Haakenson
Mandy Haakenson is a travel industry professional and freelance writer, specializing in family travel and sustainable tourism. Her passion for places and cultures has led her on numerous adventures around the world. She is an American currently living in London, England and a mama to two girls. She and her husband strive to enjoy all the small moments in life, while also giving their kids a broad view of the world by traveling as much as possible. Mandy shares their expat life and travel adventures at www.offcoursebird.com and can be followed on Instagram and Twitter at @offcoursebird.
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