New website offers dog-boarding for vacationing owners


Sherry Benjamins is going out of town and is very particular about who takes care of her 8-month-old Goldendoodle, Nona, while she's gone.

"The minute I picked her up as a puppy, I started thinking about what are we going to do in April of 2012, because I knew I'd be flying to Boston for my son's graduation," said Sherry.

Marcella Warfield is a fellow dog-lover and she makes her home available for dogs whose owners are on vacation.

"Just for the love of animals. I was watching friends' dogs and working with a rescue and we were doing it, and it just kind of fell into being a business," said Marcella.

And Aaron Hirschhorn and Karine Nassim recently started a website that gets people like Sherry and Marcella together.

Karine and Aaron have dogs of their own and know that leaving your loving pooch in a kennel is not a pet-owner's first choice, so they created an alternative, called Dog Vacay.

"I liken it to a dating site because basically the dog-owner can assess the dog's needs, what their needs are also, and search through hundreds of people in their area to find the perfect fit," said Karine.

There are thousands of people opening their homes for doggie vacations. The website is very new, but it is free to use, while pet-sitters pay a service fee of 3 to 10 percent for each job. Sitters set their own rates, which can range from $15 to $80 per day.

"We see a small one-bedroom apartment with a casual dog-lover is going to be $15 or $20, $25," said Aaron. "Whereas a professional trainer with a sprawling ranch is going to be more expensive."

The average rate is about $30 per day. Dog Vacay offers a money-back guarantee and provides comprehensive insurance for the sitters and the owners.

Before you send your dog off on vacation, and because you love them so very much, there are a few things you want to do:

  • Schedule a meet-and-greet with the sitter. That way you can take a good look at the home and the yard.
  • If it's a place you want to use then when it's time for your vacation, make sure you pack your dog's food so there are no stomach issues.
  • Also, it's a good idea to bring a leash and even their doggie bed.
  • And finally, don't forget a favorite toy or an old T-shirt of yours, something that will remind them of home.

"When I met Marcella and I learned that Nona would be in a home, and have some space to play in, and really be more personalized attention, it was absolutely perfect," said Sherry.

And it's a perfect business for pet-lovers like Marcella.

"It's a home environment. I'm not away from my family, and I can still do what I love," said Marcella.

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