The age of the internet has brought some new ways to have your pet cared for in your absence: listen to this podcast at the foot of this page to find out more.
The photo above shows brothers Timothy and James McElroy, the founders of the Housemydog website, with their pet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Alternative holiday care for pets
If you are planning on heading off for holidays, one of the hidden costs is having to pay for your pet to be cared for in your absence. And you want to make sure that this is done in a way that your pet really enjoys. Having friends minding pets isn’t always possible, and traditional boarding kennels don’t suit every pet.
There’s a new cost-effective possibility: having your pet minded in someone else’s home via a dedicated website/app. This has taken off in a big way in the USA in the past decade, with a few big players like “Wag” and “Rover”, which have each recently raised more than $300 million in financial backing from venture capitalists in recent years. The concept has not taken off in such a big way in Europe yet, but that may be changing soon as people catch on to the usefulness of the idea.
The Irish startup company, Housemydog, does exactly this, and the company hit the headlines yesterday when it was announced that it is merging with Gudog, a Spanish company which runs an identical service in southern Europe. The combined company will have a staff of around 21 people and will have 25,000 approved dog sitters listed on its platform across 70 cities in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium. It plans to reveal a new joint brand in the coming months, with the joint venture making them the biggest network of dog walkers and dog sitters in Europe.
The concept of Housemydog and Gudog is simple. their websites connect up pet owners with dog-loving members of the public who are happy to mind pets in their own home. The service gives your pet an experience which is more what they are used to – idling around a family home all day, going for walks with friendly people, sleeping in the kitchen, whatever – it is very different from being in an enclosed kennel and run, so many people prefer it for their home loving pets.
There are two types of Housemydog customers
First, there are dog-loving people who want to earn some cash by minding pets, whether boarding them, or just taking them for walks. From professional petsitters to veterinary students and nurses to members of the public who are experienced dog owners, a wide range of pet-loving people get involved. They all have two things in common: they enjoy the company of dogs and they are able to fit an extra dog into their home and lifestyle. The Housemydog website scrutineers are very selective and only approve 3 out of every 10 applications: applicants have to go through a rigorous screening process.
The second “HouseMyDog” customer is the dog owner who is looking for an alternative to boarding kennels for their pet. For these people the process is simple: they type in the area where they live, and the dates when they want to have their pet minded. A list of potential minders then pops up: they click on the minder of their choice, and the booking is made.
There are reassuring security aspects built in to the system: for example, all pet minders are covered by complimentary emergency veterinary insurance in case their pet has an accident or falls ill. And an online review system means that pet minders soon build up track records of reliability. Most people make sure they meet a new minder first (perhaps going for a short dog walk together), and ideally they arrange a ‘trial stay’ for a couple of hours or overnight, so that they can thoroughly check the minder and their home out before leaving them there for a longer period.
Questions from Newstalk listeners about pets
The following questions were asked during this week’s vet spot:
- When rehoming a dog, is it better to leave them once, finally, with their new owners, or to let them stay for a week, then take them back for a week, and do the handover gradually in this way?
- Are there any side effects from vaccines for cats?
- Is a rescue dog or a puppy better for a family with young children?
- Does adverse weather and cold temperature affect dogs?
- Our female Yorkshire Terrier stops to pass urine frequently on walks, even cocking her leg like a male dog. Should we have this investigated?
- Should I give my Newfoundland 14 week old puppy calcium tablets? I have read that I should not be doing this.
To listen to the podcast, click on the play button below.
Pete did his usual Facebook Live session after the radio vet spot: you can watch the video here.