Animals & Money: Would you rent a dog?

Catie Copley, resident dog at the Fairmont
Catie Copley, resident dog at the Fairmont

The dog rental business started off as one of those crazy Japanese trends that Americans couldn't quite believe really existed. In Japan everybody has mind-blowing electronics, wears eyelash wigs, competes on wacky gameshows like live Tetris. And, oh yeah, they rent out dogs for $19 an hour or $100 a day.

An American company FlexPetz has tried to copy the formula here, staring with a small office in Iowa. No, just kidding. Where would someone start the Zipcar of dogs but in Los Angeles and New York? They claim they are for people who don't have the time or pet-friendly apartment for a real dog but the more popular theory is they're for singles who want to pick someone up.

FlexPetz tracks their dogs with GPS and says they use rescue dogs "where possible." The dogs in their pictures all seem to be purebreds, but FlexPetz tells the stories of some that come from shelters or were given up by owners. By all accounts they take great care of their dogs. What these dogs' emotional life is like after work, I'm not sure.