Busy but want a dog? Pet-sharing could be for you


Have you ever thought about how you'd love a dog, but then work and travel get in the way?


Well, listen to this: People are now sharing the responsibility of pooch ownership, and if it’s done right, it can be a win-win for everyone involved.


The moment Janet Eggen started fostering Buddy, she fell in love. She wanted to adopt him but required some help.


“It was a challenge for me to give him what he needed. He needed a lot of exercise," Eggen said.


So, Eggen started “dog sharing” Buddy. The Maltese poodle mix’s time is split between Eggen’s house and three other families', including Jane Hook’s.


“After the first visit alone, he was 100 percent confident and happy and felt comfortable with us," Hook said.


Each family buys food and supplies for Buddy, but Eggen is his main owner and pays for his vet care.


“Having people who love your dog like you do -- it's wonderful,” Eggen said.


Part-time pets, like pooches Woody, Oscar and Queen Emma, who are owned by Mercedes Nanson, are popping up all over the country. They spend the day at her mother-in-law's house while Mercedes goes to work.


There are apps out there to help connect people, like Dogtime and Let's Share a Dog.


Eggen posted on private neighborhood websites to find Buddy’s helpers and checked them all out.


“I was concerned about, you know, safety issues," she said.


Veterinarian Lori Teller, who is on the board of directors for the American Veterinary Medical Association, says pet sharing can increase a dog’s socialization but recommends the following:

  • A primary owner maintains financial responsibility and decision making for the dog.
  • Get personal and vet references.
  • Do a home visit and play date—to make sure it’s a good fit.

Dog law expert and attorney Jeremy Cohen, from Boston Dog Lawyers, recommends a contract to clarify things like:

  • Who is responsible if the dog bites someone?
  • What training methods will be used?
  • If the owner passes away, who has rights to the dog?

Eggen and the rest of Buddy’s extended family say they hope their arrangement inspires others to adopt.


"There are so many animals in shelters that need a home. And if families can partner to share the responsibility, I think that would be wonderful," she said.


Dr. Teller said not to adopt a dog unless you can meet all their needs without pet sharing.


And remember, dogs can live for one to two decades, so you’ll want to make sure you have a long-term plan in place for your pooch.