Imagine a world where wannabe dog owners, people who cannot get a dog because they don’t have the time or their apartment won’t allow it, can have a dog. Wouldn’t that be a special place? Wouldn’t we all be much happier?
Turns out, heaven is a place on earth—and it can be found in a new app called Bark’N’Barrow. “So how will this get me a dog?” you wannabe dog owners may wonder. Well, it works by letting you literally borrow a dog for a few hours by effectively babysitting for a dog owner. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? It truly is.
To make the deal even sweeter, Bark’N’Borrow is getting into the adopting world with a new campaign that connects you with adoptable dogs. Teaming up with NKLA, you can find dogs on the app and potentially bring that dog home with you. Fabulous? Fabulous. It’s a kind of Tinder model for dog adopting, which makes getting a dog very easy for those who can’t run from shelter to shelter to shelter.
Fascinated by all this and always down to dog chat, I spoke with B’N’B’s founder (and all around hunk) Liam Berkeley to get an idea about how exactly the system works of borrowing dogs and how mobile adoption is the future.
You guys are putting interaction with dogs into the smartphoned palms of people who want to be petting dogs. Do you guys see this as the future of connecting with dogs?
Truly connecting with a dog is always going to come in meeting a dog in-person, so the goal is certainly always a real world connection. Tinder in a lot of ways has become a game of hot or not, and that’s one thing we’d like to avoid. Our goal is to match window’s where dog owners can’t be with their dogs with the window of when a local dog-lover without a dog can be with one. It’s really that simple and the goal is always the real world connection.
As mentioned, Tinder was obviously an inspiration for this project and, clearly, it’s working pretty well. Did you guys actually use Tinder yourselves?
We’re trying to stick to dog-dating ourselves. However, the timing ended up being right for some Tinder influence as the original inspiration was really my wanting a dog, but not being able to have one. This was in the 2013 – 2014 period in LA when Tinder was really just catching on. I grew up in Australia always having a dog and, when I moved to LA, I couldn’t really have one full-time with my apartment and working schedule. I’d meet people on hikes or running in the LA area with dogs and approach the dog before the people. Eventually I got to asking people if I could borrow them for my own runs and hikes. I thought it’d be great to build a platform that connected borrowable dogs with dog-lovers, and when it came time for execution of that platform, the Tinder model made a lot of sense.
NKLA has a very pro-active approach to dog rescuing, one that removes a deadline from dogs in need of adoption. Do you find their ideologies are well suited for the instant gratification of an app like B’N’B?
‘Borrow a dog on demand’ can certainly be a headline stealer, but we’re really trying to create a mobile community of dog-lovers. That’s where we share some real synergies with NKLA and have a community of 50,000+ dog lovers now. Furthermore, 85% of those said they would get their first or next dog from a shelter. Our mission is to create genuine relationships between trustworthy dog-lovers and friendly dog owners all over the country. And while last minute dog watching is a good feature for time and cash-strapped dog owners, a lot find additional benefits of having their dog with someone that is doing it for the love of being with the dog, rather than just trying to make a couple extra bucks.
Random: do you see an opportunity to add a literal dating service to B’N’B? Would that ever be an option to take someone and their dog out?
We’ve certainly been asked the question a bunch! It’s always funny to hear stories like “I couldn’t date him because he didn’t love my dog.” Or, “I just keep wondering when she’s going to bring the cool dog in her Tinder photos on the date!” Dogs play a big role in our two-legged love lives! We actually just heard from one user that is tying a Bark’N’Borrow doggy into popping the question to his fiancee. And of course we hear folks say that Bark’N’Borrow is better to use for meeting someone (of the human variety) than Tinder, because you have an excuse for getting in touch and likely share a common interest in being dog-lovers. All that said, no current plans to launch into non-dog matchmaking.
Related, as I’ve heard this is a phenomena that occurs sometimes in dog training: are there ever moments where someone else’s dog clicks with a different person—and a new relationship is formed / negotiated between dog and owner?
We haven’t heard about any dogs running away from their owners to be with borrowers—just yet. But in all seriousness hopefully it would serve as a bit of a wake up call for dog parents—like your kid calling the babysitter mom or dad. A sign that you need to make some more quality time with your pooch. Our hope is that dogs will come back to pet parents after some active and healthy time with borrowers, and that it will encourage more of that type of activity at home!
Are there any other future collaborative plans for B’N’B? Anything we should be looking out for?
We’d love to add actual borrowing / dog walking of shelter dogs to the Bark’N’Borrow platform, in addition to just promoting shelter dogs currently available for adoption. This raises some issues for shelters currently in terms of ensuring the dogs aren’t exposed to any potential health risks or ailments they could bring back into the shelter (come into contact with other dogs, etc.). In addition, they’re also out of the shelter and perhaps some other adoptable eyes that may come into the shelter, so we would need to make sure this is a good use of their time for their long-term health. If we can solve and balance these, we’d love to create the option with NKLA or other shelters down the road.
You can download Bark’B’Borrow from the app store.