We’re Chris and Suze, full time house and pet sitters living on the road, and we recently became BorrowMyDoggy Ambassadors! We originally joined BorrowMyDoggy in 2017 to meet some new furry friends. We had been eager to sign up for a while, but in 2017 we had just moved to a new rented flat in Brighton, and it was the first time a landlord had allowed us to have pets in the house.
Chris was working 9-5, while Suze was having a difficult time managing her anxiety disorder and she struggled to leave the house each day. Meeting local dog owners not only gave her the opportunity to meet new people, but walking dogs gave her a reason to leave the house and get some fresh air (even if just for the dog to go for a wee!) and most of the time she didn’t realise she’d managed to get outside until she was halfway around the park.
When we first signed up to BorrowMyDoggy, we made sure our profile had lots of photos and information about us, then began contacting dog owners close by. The first dog we cared for was rescue Greyhound, Rihanna, who was the perfect first dog for us. Incredibly sweet-natured and very relaxed, she loved lying by Suze’s side at home and was happy with short walks in the local park to run off some energy. Suze took care of her while the owners were at work during the week, which meant Chris wasn’t getting any time with our new doggo pal! We decided to reach out to owners that were looking for weekend help, and that’s how we met Pug Staffie cross, Bella. We spent weekends and occasional evenings walking around the parks in Brighton with Bella at our sides. When they moved away from the area, we went on a few one-off walkies with other doggos on the BorrowMyDoggy site when their owners needed some extra help, while still caring for Rihanna around three days a week. This was great for us as each time we looked after a new dog, we expanded our care experience with different breeds.
Although we loved caring for Bella, Rihanna, and other dogs, we always had to take turns holding the lead or throwing the ball, so we searched BorrowMyDoggy for a pair of pooches that we could look after together. We’re so glad we did as we found a lifelong friend in Jennifer, who owns two rescue terriers named Jyoti and Milai. Having a dog each on walkies was so much fun! We didn’t have to take turns and loved playing with them at home - they even stayed overnight a few times. Even though we moved out of Brighton to begin our nomadic pet sitting journey, we still keep in touch with Jennifer to pet sit Jyoti and Milai for her and catch up when we visit Brighton!
It was amazing that we could find so many different dogs to care for on BorrowMyDoggy, as this varied experience under our belts was extremely beneficial when we gave up our flat and began pet sitting around the U.K. full time. Our house sitting and pet sitting job means we’re never short of fluffy cuddles in our lives. BorrowMyDoggy became the website we recommended to others who asked us the best way to begin pet sitting full time - even now we always advise that animal lovers use the site to gain experience with dog care, as well as finding lifelong friends in dogs and owners alike! BorrowMyDoggy is part of our story, and even when we weren’t using the site we always thought of it fondly for starting our new animal-filled lifestyle. Everything was going well until... 2020!
When our full time pet sitting job ground to a halt in March 2020, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we had no idea just how long we’d be without furry friends. Over the previous three years we’d gotten used to having temporary pets while pet sitting, whether walking dogs, feeding donkeys or simply curling up on the sofa with a cat in our laps. We began to miss having dogs around us, and we decided to re-join the website that started our pet-sitting journey! It was so easy to re-join and we were able to pick up right where we left off, albeit in a new location in Kent where we were locked down with family.
Creating a profile on BorrowMyDoggy is free – you can upload photos of yourself, write about why you want to borrow doggies, plus browse the dogs in your area! If you want to contact an owner to borrow their dog, however, you’ll need to pay for an annual membership. By doing so you become a Premium member – owners and borrowers without Premium membership cannot use the messaging system, as only by becoming a Premium member are both parties covered by Borrow My Doggy’s insurance policy. Premium membership is marked with a little crown on your profile, which makes it easy to see which owners you can contact when looking for doggies to borrow. We feel the Premium membership is worth every penny for a year of tail-wagging fun!!
Our biggest piece of advice when using BorrowMyDoggy is to message more than one person. Sometimes people have already found their perfect match! You might have your heart set on borrowing a cute Pug but it doesn’t always work out that way if the owner is not currently looking for more help, and you’re better off going into the process with an open mind, being willing to look after any breed as long as you’re comfortable with the dog and their availability.
As we had a lot of experience with different breeds, we felt confident contacting a lot of the dog owners in our new area. We first met a small rescue dog called Spike, whose owner needed extra help with him while she home-schooled her children during the week. We took Spike for lots of long walks, and when schools opened up again and his owner no longer needed help, we contacted more owners and now have a variety of dogs who we take out for regular walkies!
We have Bayley - a young Jack Russell Chihuahua cross who loves to walk through woodland to run after squirrels.
We care for Shadow - an older Border Collie who is so intelligent, and even knows our names and starts excitedly running around when his owner tells him ‘Chris and Suze are coming!’
We walk Yoshi - a young Cavapoo puppy who is super affectionate and will do anything for a treat.
We’re also just getting to know Springer Spaniel Labrador cross Toto, whose owners have just become parents and appreciate Toto enjoying some extra walks - he’s such a good boy that he starred in our Take the Lead video for BorrowMyDoggy!
We’re so pleased to have made such good friends in dogs and owners alike, to the point where we have a nice routine of different walks and places to explore with our new furry friends.
We’d always recommend meeting the owners before you agree to care for their dog. This allows you see how the dog is at home or on walks, and means you can get to know the owners more and better understand their needs for their pet. We love going on Welcome Woofs where we walk with the owner and see how the dog responds to us, asking the owners about the dog’s likes, dislikes, and our availability to make sure we’re all comfortable with the arrangement.
It’s worth mentioning that every BorrowMyDoggy situation is different. When we lived in Brighton, two of the owners would drop their dogs to us on their way to work. Bella the Pug Staff cross lived just around the corner from us, and the owner gave us a key to their flat so we could easily pop round (with permission!) to check on Bella if needed. Lately, due to social-distancing, we’ve been limiting our care to outside the home - choosing to contact owners who only need more walks for their dogs. We’ll go to pick up the dogs from their home and take them for a walk they’re familiar with for the first couple of meetings until the dog gets used to us, before asking the owner about exploring further afield. We’re so glad that the website runs as smoothly now as it did when we first joined in 2017, and there are still SO many dogs for us to borrow even in a completely different area!
Overall it’s a brilliant mutually-beneficial exchange for everyone involved - owners can find free dog care from experienced pet-lovers, borrowers make new four-legged friends, and doggies get more playtime and walkies! We’re so grateful to BorrowMyDoggy both for starting us on our pet care journey, and especially during the pandemic when it put a stop to our full time dog cuddles. Now we’re back on the road with our pet sitting jobs, we’re scheduling some time in our calendar to come back to Kent and check in on our new BorrowMyDoggy friends! We’ve loved getting to know them over the past year and will always be glad we chose to join Borrow My Doggy.