If you've ever uttered the phrase "I'd love to have a dog, it just doesn't seem fair in this city," your plight is common. While NYC is surprisingly populated by the four-legged companion set, dog ownership can be a real pain. Small apartments, flights and flights of stairs, and lack of any free space for pups to frolic all leave bleeding heart inhabitants of this concrete jungle of ours thinking twice about bringing home a dog.
But, like all good things in this city that are too cumbersome to own (real estate, cars, normal sized furniture), there are multiple ways to rent. Be it for a weekend or just a couple of hours a day, there are a number of services, organizations, and shelters that are clamoring for you to take some of their dogs for the short term, and help you get your fido fix in the process.
Here are a few of the organizations we love the most, and most frequently use:
Puppies Behind Bars
This non-profit organization teaches prison inmates to train Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers to be service dogs, and upon graduation are placed with returning soldiers suffering from PTSD and other war related ailments. Since the puppies spend their first two years living in a prison cell, they need to be socialized, which is where you come in. Volunteers take a puppy one weekend a month into their home and, well, love them, play with them and teach them how to interact with the outside world. They only take on new volunteers once a year, in the spring, and you have to be trained before you can host a puppy. Check out their site for more information.
Want to take care of someone else's dog and make a little money on the side? Create a profile on DogVacay and let other dog owners around New York know you're willing to open up your home (for a nominal fee). The site matches you with pet owners going out of town but not wanting to put Fido up at a kenel. You will arrange a meet 'n greet to make sure it's a suitable match, then all payment is taken care of through a PayPal-type system on the site.
Social Tees Animal Rescue
The name is slightly misleading, but this local non-profit, no-kill animal shelter has been taking in NYC's stray dogs and cats for decades. While they would love for you to come and adopt any of their animals, if you've only got a few hours to spare they would equally love for you to stop in and take one of their pups for a walk around the park. Stop in between 5 - 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or 12 - 4 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, leave some ID and you'll be given a very grateful pooch ready for a little fresh air.