Time-Share For Pets. A Startup Like AirBnb Except For Renting Time With Cats & Puppies
Like Italian sports cars and sail boats, don’t own a pet — rent one!
My friend’s mother asked if he was going to come to California for her birthday, and his immediate reply was, “What would I do with Mittens?”
At first she thought he was asking “Will you pay for a cat hotel?” but then realized that the subtext really was, “I can’t. Mittens hates the cat hotel.”
Eventually a solution was found — friends from California agreed to vacation in New York City and live rent-free in his Manhattan apartment in return for taking care of the cat.
That got me thinking.
If You Can Time-Share A House Why Not Time-Share A Dog?
You can time-share someone else’s car by calling an Uber.
You can time-share someone else’s house by booking an AirBnb.
Why isn’t there a mash-up of Uber and AirBnb, but for pets?
Why can’t you time-share someone else’s labradoodle by clicking on the icon for the app I’m calling PetMe?
Time-Shared Pets? — Genius!
The Ratio Of Pet-Fun Hours To Total-Pet Hours Is Low
Here’s the thing about pets — the ratio of hours of fun time you have with them per week to the hours of not-fun-time/pain-in-the-wallet time you have with them per week is actually very low.
I mean, how often do you really, enjoyably, interact with Wolfie? Half an hour a day more or less?
No, I’m not counting walks. Walks are something you have to do, like getting the oil changed in your car, except that for your Lexus Jiffy Lube will handle the whole dirty process, but you will have to pick up and transport Wolfie’s poop all on your own.
And let’s be honest; if your pet is Mittens the cat instead of Wolfie the dog, your hands-on fun time will be even less.
So, how much quality time do you really spend with your pet?
Not the hours when he/she is lying in the corner snoring while you watch some crappy movie on Netflix, but the time you would actually pay good money to spend with him/her?
What is that, maybe, maybe, two or three hours a week?
Seduced By The Cuteness
Sure, you love your yellow lab; your bulldog is the sweetest little thing in the world.
I myself was so moved by the incredible cuteness of a gray sharpei puppy I saw at my local dry cleaner that I found myself babbling to my friends about him for days. Sometimes I even go back there and wander the parking lot in the hope that I will see him and that his owner will again let me rub his tummy.
Pets Are Like Sail Boats & Italian Sports Cars
It’s experiences like that make you want one for your very own. Just like Italian sports cars and sailboats. And heroin. But if you give in to the impulse and actually get that puppy, pretty soon reality will set in.
You have to feed them, and clean up after them, and train them, and walk them, and take them to the vet, who costs almost as much as a human doctor by the way.
Pretty soon you will realize that you can forget about enjoying life as you used to know it.
Sure, you can skip out on little Waldo for a couple of hours while you have dinner with a friend, but not much longer than that.
Having A Pet Changes Your Life
If you think you’re going to leave your three-year-old German shepherd, Wolfie, all alone in your house (or worse, your condo) for ten hours straight every day while you’re doing whatever you do to get the money to pay the rent then your brain has stopped working and you need to have it looked at Real Soon Now.
Shopping for cheap plane tickets and hotel discounts, whether to do the zip line or the ATV tour, are issues that all pale into unimportance compared to your new, big vacation question, “What the hell am I going to do with little Waldo while I’m in Costa Rica for ten days?”
You didn’t think of that while you were mumbling, “Oh, he’s so cute!” did you?
For Every Problem There Is A Startup-Business Solution
But, in every pain-point lies a business opportunity. VCs are always asking their supplicants, “What’s the problem that your company is going to solve?”
Well, the problems with pets are obvious.
When you think about it, pets are, or should be, in the same category as horses, race cars, big RVs and any kind of boat — something that any non-plutocrat, normal person with half a working brain would rent instead of own.
Don’t buy a pet. Don’t own a pet.
Time-share the other guy’s pet.
But, and this is key, where can you rent a pet? Right now, nowhere.
Think about it. You can’t rent a pet for, oh, let’s say an hour of “Go get the ball, Ralphie” on Sunday afternoon and half an hour of light petting and murmurs of “Who’s a good boy?” on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between seven and eight.
I smell a business opportunity here. It’s startup time. Bring on the VCs!
Think about it.
Personally, I would pay a reasonable fee for half an hour of tennis-ball-chasing with a frisky Golden Retriever on the occasional Saturday afternoon, if it wasn’t rainy or cold.
The Two Types Of Pet Providers
I could see the pet-owner providers roughly divided into two groups:
(1) the part-time PetMe “Parents” who would answer on-demand calls for PetTime (gee, maybe that’s a better name than PetMe. I’ll have to think about that).
Anyway, on-demand calls would either require the client to pick up and return the pet or pay additional portal-to-portal delivery and pickup fees, plus mileage.
This “on demand” service would be the route chosen by a pet owner who was looking for a low-commitment side-gig.
(2) Professional Pet Parents who would own one or more pets, perhaps animals in several different categories — small dogs, big dogs, cats, maybe a bird or two, but that’s an entirely different kettle of fish, and, sure, fish — and rent them by the hour, day, week or month.
Well, aquariums would be rented for periods of between a month and a year, but cats could easily be hourly, and, of course, by appointment only. All handled right there on the App.
Just like getting an outcall massage.
The Advantages Of Renting A Pet
All the positives and none of the negatives.
No pet hotels.
No picking up any poop, unless for some odd reason you want to take Wolfie for a walk.
No huge bags of Blue Buffalo, no heart-worm pills, no leashes and toys, no pet hotels, no vet bills, no de-dogifying the carpet, no Costco-sized cartons of Febreze, no . . . well, I could go on and on, but you get the advantages. Big time, right?
And PetMe (or PetTime — still on the fence on that one) would be just the start.
Step Two — Renting Spouses
If it works for pets, why not for other expensive and time-consuming relationships, like for wives and husbands?
I mean, sure, lots of people already treat their spouses like part-time activities, but they still come with full-time in-laws and expenses.
In the future, I foresee two related companies –Part-Time Wife and Part-Time Husband.
Come on, women. Once he’s fathered the kids and shows up for holidays, birthdays, the occasional school event and a destination vacation now and then, how much good is he really?
Now, Part-Time Kids will be trickier. I don’t see that happening for at least twenty years, maybe thirty.
I’ve already got the name: AndyKids. Android, Andy. Get it?
For that to work, we would need really, really, really good androids. I’m talking at least 97% human here, about equal to a well-behaved but rather slow eight-year-old.
You know, the kind of kid who can dress himself and make it on his own to a nearby school after two or three tries, but who isn’t going to win the Science Fair with a baking-soda volcano.
Of course, an android kid — AndyBill or AndyJane — would have really good hand-eye coordination. We would either have to artificially degrade that or not allow AndyKids to join the school’s sports teams. Tough call. We’d probably have to leave that choice up to the ShareParents on a case-by-case, rental-by-rental, basis.
Intellectually, an AndyKid would be pretty slow on the uptake and a boring conversationalist. We could upgrade that a bit in the programming, but, what the heck, he/she would be good enough to take to a company picnic or a ball game, and on the bright side, an AndyKid wouldn’t be eating any of those $10 ballpark hot dogs, so that’s a plus.
Why Not AndyPets?
Now, I know what you’re thinking — if we can make android children, why not skip straight to having PetMe rent android pets? Well, gee, Einstein, we don’t have android pets yet, do we? That’s why we’re going to start out with PetMe flesh-and-blood pets and then in ten years or so we’ll transition to android pets.
There, you see how that’s all going to work?
PetMe. I think it should be PetMe, not PetTime. PetMe is warmer, don’t you think? More endearing. And I don’t like the two Ts in a row in PetTime. It would end up as pettime, and that could be mispronounced.
Yes, PetMe. The trademark papers are already in the mail.