Sonya Sorich: Dog Vacay offers a new approach to dog boarding

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 2, 2013 

While you're enjoying a vacation in paradise, a realization hits: your dog is not having nearly as much fun back at home.

Sound familiar? As I recently prepared for a six-day vacation, I couldn't shake the guilt that came with abandoning my dog during the trip. In the past, she'd survived -- maybe even enjoyed -- many quality boarding options available locally.

But this time was different. Due to a variety of factors -- chiefly my depleted bank account and a lack of vacancies -- I faced the grim prospect of boarding my dog in a no-frills crate.

Eventually, the guilt got too strong. I hit Google and typed something to the effect of "best places for dog boarding in Columbus, Ga." While exploring the search results, I found DogVacay.com, which offered an enticing promise ("board your dog in a real home") and boasted rates starting at $15 a night.

You peruse the site and find local people willing to board your dog in their home. You can also sign up to host a dog in your home. Husband and wife Aaron Hirschhorn and Karine Nissim Hirschhorn are the minds behind the Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup, according to a 2012 Huffington Post article.

Aaron Hirschhorn told The Huffington Post, "We're really a community marketplace for pet services. So we bring together dog lovers, dog owners and pet-care providers into a trusted, vetted marketplace."

Too good to be true? I was ready to find out. I searched the Columbus offerings and found a pet-care provider within my price range. Most of the logistical communications are done through the website, so you don't have to worry about cold-calling someone and offering an awkward opening sentence.

It wasn't long before I was on the phone with my prospective provider. She had a vacancy, but I still had some qualms about putting my dog in a stranger's home. She allowed me to visit her Columbus home with my dog before I finalized the vacation plan.

We came, we saw, we breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing this woman seemed normal. The vacation plan was a "go."

Maybe that's why I didn't feel too much anxiety when I dropped my dog off for her extended stay. The pet-care provider agreed to send me text message updates during my dog's stay.

The first text message noted my dog had vomited on her couch. It highlighted my chief concern about the Dog Vacay program. When my dog misbehaves in someone's home, it's more embarrassing than when the same thing happens at a traditional pet-care facility.

Things got better and I only blushed mildly when I learned my dog had vomited again on the day I returned to Columbus. We were both ready to be home, but my dog slept well enough that night to suggest she, too, had spent some time in paradise.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.

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