In search of ponies: Pet rentals great for commitment phobic

Commitment-phobe? Just not ready to take the plunge?

Or maybe just looking for a temporary good time…

Well, there’s a solution.

Rental pets is a new rage sweeping through metropolitan communities and apparently it’s an idea that is really taking off and gaining popularity, particularly in the concrete jungles.

I stumbled onto the concept while reading a story on weird things one can rent and was fascinated by the concept.

After going through an application and screening process, a potential renter can select a pet and take it home, to the park, on vacation or where ever their fancy directs.

Not an entirely new idea, in a 2008 New York Times article, one woman said she liked renting a cockapoo named Oliver because she was lonely after relocating and found the dog to be a great ice-breaker, attracting attention and conversation when she was out and about.

Other reasons people give for renting pets range from not being ready to make the commitment to a full-time pet, to making the kiddos happy by giving them a chance to throw Fido a ball for a while.

The potential is intriguing… Your kid wouldn’t have to stare at their feet during pet day at school, you could use the critter to pick up a date, get that impulsive desire to get a dog out of your system, or maybe even confirm that you are indeed ready to share your life with a dog from the chewing start to the incontinence end of its life, with all the shedding and vet bills in-between.

One of the most interesting aspects of the pet rental trade is the fact that many of the companies offer rental animals from shelters that are looking for homes.

The concept of getting people to pay money to foster and love homeless animals by playing on their love of convenience is absolutely brilliant!

It turns out in addition to dogs and cats, you can also rent exotic animals, horses, ponies, reptiles, birds, fish (complete with tank and maintenance if you’re keep-fish-alive-impaired like me) and — making childhood dreams come true — monkeys (I’m sure an hour is more than enough).

You can even rent a goat to mow your lawn then send it back — now there’s an eco-conscious approach to chores without long-term risk to your trees and clothesline of dungarees, and the owner gets their animal fed and your money, again, brilliant.

There are certainly valid reasons for renting, after all, why purchase a backhoe for one job, a car for a week-long vacation, or tables and chairs for one party?

The most profound part of the whole rent-a-life thing is that it is completely fueled by and based upon people accepting the price tag for embracing their limitations and owning up to the fact they don’t want the responsibility — a novel concept indeed.

And it’s arguably a little cloudy as to whether that’s a good, or a bad thing. After all, I’d be the last one to look down on anyone for loving a critter.

The position could be made that rental animals will get shuffled from one environment to the next and of course there’s always the possibility of a bad renter getting their hands on one. Then again, a trip through a shelter will show you rows of snouts already in varying stages of that very cycle, considering there is no screening process for pet ownership.

I wonder what they’ll think of next. Maybe for the sake of humanity, one day you’ll be able to rent an abandoned baby, or a toddler, or even a neglected elderly person, and then send them back before the obligations and work kick in.

I suppose until they do and until the pet rental option reaches less metropolitan areas like ours, our choices are a little limited. But I guess if we were so inclined, while we wait for it to come to our area we could always mentor local kids, visit a nursing home, volunteer or donate the money we might use for pet rent … We could call it renting happiness and gratitude.