Part-time pooches for time-poor dog lovers


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The Independent Online

There are few things nicer than walking a dog and I'll happily borrow a friend's canine for a stomp around the park. Sadly like many nine-to-five officer workers, renters and cramped townies it wouldn't be fair of me to own a dog. This is a shame. I grew up with dogs (a mutt called Ziggy, then a Jack Russell called Mini) but haven't had the joy of walking my own since leaving home 10 years ago.

Help is at hand though: I've signed up to Borrow My Dog (, a new service based in central London that puts dog lovers without dogs in touch with dog owners in their local area who need to outsource walkies and day-care. I'm on the waiting list for an appropriate pooch, but dog lovers without a best friend can also volunteer to join the 850 people who help with walking and looking after the inmates at Battersea Dogs home. Or there's the Dogs Trust which needs volunteer dog walkers. A note of caution: Clarissa Baldwin, CEO of Dogs Trust, admits to concern "over the relevant checks that take place to ensure the appropriate dogs and walkers are matched". She also warns: "Borrow My Dog does nothing to stop the idea that dogs are a commodity and the concept takes a cavalier approach to dog ownership. If a similar concept was launched called 'Borrow My Best Friend' would people be as open to it?"

I'm not sure I agree with her and Borrow My Dog tries to match the profiles of dog owners and potential borrowers with care, but I can see how things could go wrong. And there's nothing more embarrassing than chasing an overexcited dog as it attempts to savage your neighbour's cat. That said, there are somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 million dogs in the UK (nobody is really sure how many), and there must be a way to share them around a little.