I am a shameless Internet surfer. Recently I chanced upon an article from Yahoo called "Strange Things You Didn't Know You Could Rent". Of course, I had to read it. Who knew that you could actually rent a dog?
According to Yahoo, "Although the concept of renting a pet might seem shocking to some (rent a best friend?), there are circumstances where it might make sense, such as comforting the elderly, testing if a particular breed triggers your allergies, or gauging how your family reacts to an animal. Others would like a companion for hikes but can't keep a pet at home." They also mention that "participants can save hundreds of dollars a year on food, supplies, vet bills, and other expenses of animal ownership."
It's hard to argue that owning a pet isn't expensive---dog and cat food isn't cheap, and vet bills can be astronomical. Still, it's hard to imagine renting an animal.
They link to a company called Flexpetz, which "offers customers the chance to spend time with a trained dog for a few hours or at regular intervals." Having experienced first hand how beneficial the Read to a Dog program is at school, and what a difference a trained therapy dog made in the life of one of my middle school students, this is not a bad service. Fortunately, all the dogs are purported to "be rescued or "rehomed." When they are not working, "they live in the home of a caregiver."
Apparently, "participants can save hundreds of dollars a year on food, supplies, vet bills, and other expenses of animal ownership."
Personally, I prefer to volunteer at the local animal shelter. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement where I experience the joy of spending time with animals, without all of the trouble of remembering to buy more dog food or constantly having to brush the cats. Even better, I am providing much needed socialization for animals that are waiting to be adopted.