Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Pets

Homey hospitality provides vacationing alternative for dog owners

TAMPA — Copper needed somewhere to stay when Stephanie went out of town. He didn't require anything too fancy, but he doesn't like being alone.

As he looked around Bill Rogers' home in Town 'N Country, he seemed pleased. Plenty of space, two levels, friends to socialize with.

He made his way to the screened-in pool out back, raising his head and looking around, the red in his hair catching the light. And then he bent down and lapped up some pool water.

"Copper, no," Stephanie Towns said, chiding the 4 ½-year-old beagle.

Copper just grinned and trotted away, ears flapping.

Towns recently moved to Tampa from New York City and was looking for a safe, affordable, friendly place to leave Copper when she and her husband went on vacation. She doesn't know many people in the area yet whom she would trust to come to her house, and she doesn't like the idea of leaving Copper at a kennel. So she logged on to DogVacay.com and started browsing.

Founded in 2012, DogVacay.com seeks to alleviate pet owners' guilt over leaving their pups behind when they go on vacation. The site puts owners in contact with prescreened and approved pet lovers who are willing to open up their homes to temporary doggy visitors.

"Anyone who leaves their pet spends much of their vacation worrying about their pet," site founder Aaron Hirschhorn said. "We want humans to enjoy their vacations and dogs to have vacations of their own."

By choosing one of the hosts on DogVacay.com, Towns said she feels more comfortable that Copper will get the love and attention, including walks and playtime with other dogs, that is usually lacking at a kennel. And it's more affordable, she said.

"In Manhattan, the price of boarding your dog will rival a hotel room, so forget about taking a vacation," Towns said. "And here, (boarding) is not really any cheaper (than DogVacay), but he's in a house where he gets to run around and play."

Hirschhorn said the average rate on the site is $25 a night. Rogers has been hosting dogs for about eight months and charges $30 a night for dogs to stay at "Casa de Canine," the nickname for his two-story home complete with a pool, more than 4,000 square feet of dog-friendly space and close to an acre of running room.

"Their dog's in a home getting a lot of personal attention, getting to be one of the family versus being stuck in a cage and maybe walked two or three times a day," Rogers said. "I don't think there's even a question of where I'd rather put my dog."

Hirschhorn and his wife developed the idea after paying $1,400 to kennel their two dogs when they went on vacation. One dog, Rocky, was so shaken up by the experience that he hid under the desk for a week.

"I didn't understand why I had to pay so much money for the privilege of leaving them in a cage 23 hours a day," Hirschhorn said. "What do dogs really want? What we know is they want to be in a pack and they want love and individual attention."

Those wishing to host dogs must go through a five-step vetting process, Hirschhorn said. The company also provides pet insurance in case anything goes awry. And, to put the pet parents at ease, hosts are asked to send a photo of their pooch each day of the stay. Hirschhorn said some hosts take this a step further, sending videos or pet journals written from the dog's point of view.

"What we understood from the very beginning is that you're dropping off your baby, your child, at somebody else's house," Hirschhorn said. "So it really is all about trust."

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.

Comments
Find A Friend: Patty the combo terrier

Find A Friend: Patty the combo terrier

Okay, so it’s not Gasparilla. But Patty’s got purpose, she’s dressed like a pirate to steal your heart. Originally named "Frozen," she held out for a cheerful name and a caring foster family. Patty’s a year and a half old, appropriately energetic, an...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Hernando Pet of the Week for May 18

Hernando Pet of the Week for May 18

Hernando County Animal ServicesEllis is a handsome 3-year-old male, orange and white domestic short hair. After being found injured, he was brought to the shelter for care. Since his owners have not claimed him, he is available for adoption. Ellis is...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/13/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for May 11

Hernando Pet of the Week for May 11

Humane Society of the Nature CoastBoone is an active 2-year-old border collie who exemplifies his breed. He is ready to learn agility, which would enable him to be a very good Frisbee or disc dog, or help herd your livestock. Inquiries about adopting...
Published: 05/03/18
Updated: 05/09/18
Find A Friend: Luke, the Mastiff Mix

Find A Friend: Luke, the Mastiff Mix

Supersize that burrito, please, Luke is one beefy baby. This robust pup isn’t quite a year old and weighs a solid 90 lbs. Larger than life and always entertaining, Luke’s a lover with a smooth coat. He lives for long walks, toys, and other pooches. L...
Published: 05/03/18
Updated: 05/08/18
Find A Friend: Oh Boy, the Cinco De Mayo cat

Find A Friend: Oh Boy, the Cinco De Mayo cat

Fa la la la bamba! Celebrate Cinco de MEOW with a grande adoption special: all cats 5-months and older will be offered to good homes for just $5 on Saturday (May 5). So, snuggle and play with this young chico, a 6-month sweetie called Oh Boy. The mil...
Published: 04/30/18
Updated: 05/08/18
Hernando Pet of the Week for May 4

Hernando Pet of the Week for May 4

Hernando County Animal Services,Rocko is a handsome 7-year-old fawn terrier mix. He was found as a stray on Lake Lindsey Road in Brooksville and is available for adoption. Rocko is fairly calm, super friendly and loves toys. He would do best as the o...
Updated one month ago
Find A Friend: Aidan the Boxer

Find A Friend: Aidan the Boxer

Aidan may be the only sportsfan watching playoff hockey with the volume down. The all-white Boxer suffers no hearing loss and celebrates Bolt goals in uninhibited wiggle-butt glory. Aidan really loves the Lightning, just not the thunder. He’s equally...
Updated one month ago
Find A Friend: Taco the Chihuahua/Terrier mix

Find A Friend: Taco the Chihuahua/Terrier mix

Look closely. There’s a smiling pooch inside this whimsical wrap, and his name is Taco. If you live life like a fiesta, you’ll rate this Taco mucho bueno. He’s a healthy and housebroken Chihuahua/terrier mix bound to spice up your world with companio...
Updated one month ago
Top places to bring your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Top places to bring your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Dozens of places to take your dog in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg and the entire region.
Updated one month ago