Q: I am wondering if you have heard of any services in the Boston area that would allow me to "rent" a dog for the day?
Q: I am wondering if you have heard of any services in the Boston area that would allow me to "rent" a dog for the day? Specifically I would like to hire a certain breed of dog for the day, meaning he/she would be dropped off in the morning and then picked up at night. I would, of course, provide food, walking, etc., for the dog. I would be interested in either long-term or short-term contracts. SARA
A: Sara, your query sounds vaguely illicit - as if you desire a doggy escort service, which, in theory, you do. But, in the interests of a PG rating, let's look at this as a rental car with four legs. Presumably, you want a dog delivered to you with a full tank and low mileage.
No matter how we describe it, this whole notion seems strange. Merely by asking the question, you have probably let out a pack of entrepreneurs eager to make a buck with a Bowser leasing venture. Actually, here come the hounds:
A service called Flexpetz (flexpetz.com), which got its start in Tinsel Town, promises a Boston-area franchise. The company describes its services as providing "flexible" pet guardianship for people who, for one reason or another, can't have a dog full-time. Members pay a monthly fee, a one-time usage fee, and Flexpetz provides them with dogs at their discretion. According to Flexpetz, their rental dogs, all redeemed rescues with names like Jackpot and Tango, are very well-behaved.
If you are determined to cuddle a temporary canine, go to your local animal shelter. The strays need exercise and attention, so the staff might let you walk a dog for an afternoon. Of course, there are no amenities. You wouldn't be able to specify a breed, and the shelter workers have no time to drop off or pick up the dog. You would have to do all the work, which might cause you to realize that a high-end, rent-a-rover scheme somehow skirts the limits of decency.
Q: I see your column in the paper and often wonder if you know of anyone that can answer my cat questions? I would appreciate any ideas you can give me. CONFUSED BY KITTY
A: Confused, Dog Lady imagines an "Ask Cat Lady" column where the abrupt answers might sound like this: "Don't bother me with such nonsense." Or, "Just give me my Meow Mix and shut up." Or, "Pardon me while I play mind games with the big doofus dog." Cat Lady would not be eager to please whereas Dog Lady slobbers all over herself trying to come up with the perfect answers to queries.
A suggestion: Nicole Hollander, the wry cartoonist behind "Sylvia," has written and illustrated "Everything Is Mine: An Unhelpful Guide to Cat Behavior" (Sourcebooks, $9.95). You can also get a taste of Hollander's advice in "Ask the Cat Lady" on her Web site, www.nicolehollander.com/catask.html, where she distinctly answers a couple of feline questions. She's a naughty Cat Lady after Dog Lady's heart.
Q: I am writing you because I am puzzled and don't know what to do. I am 36, single, never been married and own two Labrador retrievers that are like my kids. I have been dating a guy for nine months now who is very allergic and has asthma. We are talking about marriage. I just don't think it will work. Any advice? My dogs are the world to me. I can't see myself without dogs in my life. But I also hate to lose a man I love. JENNIFER
A: Jennifer, think of that Beatles' classic, "All You Need Is Love." Ultimately, you're going to need a whole lot of love and a very strong HEPA filter to guide you through this tricky but solvable situation.
Dog Lady assumes you've had your dogs during your nine-month courtship with Mr. Allergic McDreamy. He knows the importance of your Labrador "kids." You probably should have had many conversations with him about the dogs, your feelings toward them, your need to have dogs in your life. He is fully aware of the deal. By the way, does he also know a good allergy specialist?
Keep talking with him. If there's no communication, relationships wither. You must listen to him too. You won't lose this man you love unless you want to use noxious dog dander as an excuse. There's no reason why you have to choose between your pets or your rasping guy, but accommodations must be made for all parties.
If you really want to make room for this man in your life, then make a room literally. It must be an allergen-free zone for him in your home (the bedroom, perhaps). Keep the dogs out. Exercising with the animals outdoors is also an activity you can all do together.
Visit www.askdoglady.com to ask a question or make a comment.