It's likely the most common travel conundrum of dog owners: What to do with Fido when we go on vacation? While it's true that hotels have become more pet-friendly in the past few years, the number of places that don't accept dogs still far outnumbers the number that do.
Dogvacay.com, a recently launched website that pairs dogs with host homes while owners are away, saves both dog and owner from kennel boarding. Dogvacay's boarding is cage-free, said Aaron Hirschhorn, the site's co-founder and CEO. Hirschhorn, along with his wife, Karine Nassim Hirschhorn, decided to create a website around home dog boarding.
" We didn't like the idea of boarding our dogs at kennels, where they're kept in cages most of the day, and we traveled so much, we ended up burdening our friends and family with dog-sitting requests," said Hirschhorn. "We found a great dog walker who would watch our dog at her house when we traveled, and our dogs were much happier than when we left them at kennels."
Dog owners can create an account on dogvacay.com, providing details about their pet, and then search listings for matching hosts in their area.
"We feel it is a much easier transition for a dog to go from one home to another, rather than into a caged kennel environment," said Hirschhorn.
Owners can email potential hosts to work out the details and get any questions answered. Payment is made in advance to dogvacay.com, which holds the money until after the dog has been dropped off at the host home.
The site vets hosts through phone calls and social media channels, but ultimately it's the dog owner's responsibility to pick a host they are comfortable with. Since the host home is likely in or very close to the host-seekers hometown, it's probably worth arranging a visit before making a commitment. The site provides insurance should anything go wrong and offers a money-back guarantee. Hosts can also send photo updates to the dog's owners by email or text while they're away.
A search for a host home for a dog in New York City returned more than 100 possibilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with rates as low as $15 per night.
If you're a dog lover willing to open your home to other canines, you can make extra money by registering as a host for a dog whose family needs a sitter. Hosts post their own rates, and can distinguish the kinds of dogs they're looking to house and look after.
"It's an incredible opportunity for dog lovers to make money doing something they love," said Nassim Hirschhorn.