Well, now there is. It's called DogVacay and is the latest concept in dog boarding. The new service sets your dog up with the perfect host from the comfort of your home computer. Now your pooch can take his own vacation while you're sipping cocktails in a far-off land!
The DogVacay concept
If you bring your dog on vacation with you but have plans that don't include your pet for part of your trip, DogVacay can also be used to find short-term pet sitters in the city you're visiting. Just log on and search
Like Airbnb but for dogs, DogVacay is a revolutionary pet care service that puts dog owners in touch with qualified dog boarding hosts in their area. Through the use of social media verifications and other tools, dog owners can peruse hundreds of local host listings and choose the host who best fits their dog's needs. DogVacay co-founder and co-owner Karine Nissim Hirschhorn explains that "home boarding is the new solution to an old problem of figuring out what to do with your dog when you go on vacation. Instead of expensive kennels that often crate your dog all day or burdening friends who may not be available at the last minute, dog owners can now find a friendly family home to care for their loved one."
How DogVacay came about
Karine Nissim Hirschhorn and Aaron Hirschhorn set out to create an alternative to traditional kennel boarding after they could no longer bear leaving their pooches in a traditional kennel when traveling. Launched in California just this past March, DogVacay came about after the husband and wife team tested the concept of in-home dog boarding in their own home. They took in more than 100 dogs over a nine month period before their wedding — with rave results. "Our clients were so passionate about the quality of care their dogs received that business was booming. I (Karine) was able to leave my job ... we knew we had to make this solution available on a larger scale and are thrilled to have found hundreds of professional and amazing pet care providers who do the same thing."
An alternative to boarding
Just how big is the pet care industry? Check out these stats:
- 78 million dogs are owned by 46 million U.S. households (National Pet Owners Survey)
- 82.2 percent of dog owners board their animals in kennels while they vacation
- 30 million owners use 9,000 kennels every year — according to Profile America
- Women outnumber men three to one as kennel customers
- Average pet owner spends $274 per year on boarding (National Pet Owners Survey)
While boarding your dog at the vet or a kennel may seem like the most logical option when you're away, finding a host through DogVacay might be better for his well-being. As Karine points out, in-home boarding and kennel boarding are worlds apart. Besides the frequent staff rotation at a commercial facility, the comfort factor is another main difference between DogVacay and kennel boarding. "I always likened it to dropping your kid off at their favorite aunt's house," says Karine, "because that safe familiarity and fun vibe contribute to a vacation-like experience for the dog who gets to roam around and hang out with a small group of socialized dogs." And contrary to what you might think, Fido's vacation-like experience won't cause sticker shock. Because DogVacay hosts set their own prices, there are options at varying price points that'll fit even the most meager of budgets.
Insurance, customer support and vet care? Check!
Nervous about using DogVacay? Don't be. You can sort through host reviews, testimonials, a specialized DogVacay ranking and other filters to make sure the person you're trusting to look after your pooch is qualified. To that end, the service has taken extensive measures to make sure all providers are experienced and reputable. Karine explains that DogVacay hosts have gone through "online training, interviews, reference checks and social media verifications." Do you get all that information when you bring your dog to your local boarding facility? Didn't think so.
"... Our hosts are reminded to send you photos and updates of your dog's vacay. We stand behind creating positive experiences for dogs and peace of mind for their parents."
Another difference that sets DogVacay apart is that many hosts are active in the pet community and rescue animals, volunteer at shelters and have a genuine love for animals that's easy to see from the moment you meet. Yes, meet! DogVacay encourages dog owners to meet prospective hosts prior to boarding. You can even see if you have any Facebook friends in common!
Something else that will put your mind at ease is that DogVacay customers are covered in the case of an emergency. "[With] DogVacay, you are also covered by emergency vet care, insurance, a money-back guarantee and customer support," explains Karine. "Plus, our hosts are reminded to send you photos and updates of your dog's vacay. We stand behind creating positive experiences for dogs and peace of mind for their parents." Furthermore, if your dog has special needs, the DogVacay concierge can help with specialized requests such as a massage. Talk about a pampered pet!
What's next for DogVacay?
Major growth! DogVacay is expanding nationwide and is in search of qualified dog hosts all over the country. From pet sitters with a veterinary background to the casual dog lover who's been around dogs for years, DogVacay hosts come in many forms and are essential to the service's success. "This variety allows users to play matchmaker and find the perfect spot... for Spot," says Karine.
Another plus is that they give back to the community. Karine explains that DogVacay helps build the community by "rewarding new users with a contribution to a pet adoption charity every time they refer a friend who books. The idea is that if we grow with a group of like-minded individuals, the quality of care and experience will be exceptional as well." Makes sense to us!
Next time you go on vacation, do your dog a favor and consider finding a host through DogVacay. Their motto is "Why should humans have all the fun?" By finding a host through this quickly growing service, you can rest easy knowing that you're not the only one having a blast on vacation.
Would you use DogVacay the next time you travel? Tell us about how you board your dog in the comments section below!
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