Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Give a Dog a Phone; Tech Power Up Your Pooch with Clever Canine Wearables, Connected LED Collars and Social Petworks, Says Rosamund Urwin

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Give a Dog a Phone; Tech Power Up Your Pooch with Clever Canine Wearables, Connected LED Collars and Social Petworks, Says Rosamund Urwin

Article excerpt

Byline: RosamundUrwin

MY dog Dorrit is doing her nose-nuzzle of adoration. It's a gesture she reserves for her favourite people -- me, my boyfriend, our families -- and now her dog-sitter, Hazel Carey, pictured, whom she has only known for five minutes. Before we leave, Dorrit -- a one-year-old lurcher, below -- also demonstrates "puppy madness" where she runs in circles around our tiny flat, repeatedly jumping up on the bed and sofa; Carey, who has a labrador herself and used to run a nanny agency, seems unfazed.

I've summoned Carey to our door using the Camden-based pet-sitting app, Dogbuddy. It's more like a canine Airbnb than a BorrowMyDoggy set-up, connecting owners who pay a booking fee with local, experienced pet-nannies, rather than volunteers. The aim of the service is to stop owners worrying when they leave their dogs, so the pet-nanny sends a photo, video and GPS walk updates. Dogbuddy also provides insurance cover. Carey says she is often hired by married couples simply to sit in with the dog and watch TV, so they can leave their dog without separation anxiety (theirs, not the hound's). The app itself is easy to use -- you just fill in information about you and your dog, and then search for a local sitter.

But why, when apps such as Borrowmydoggy let you find sitters for free, would people pay? "We're reliable and professional," says Dogbuddy founder Richard Setterwall. "If a dog-sitter gets sick, we find an alternative. We have a lot of customers who have used family and friends in the past but now choose to pay -- that way they can stipulate 'You have to walk the dog a certain number of times a day'. You can't really do that when someone is doing you a favour."

The 36-year-old adds that Dogbuddy rejects the majority of those who apply to be dog nannies: "Our sitters either have to have had a dog themselves or to have taken care of dogs professionally. We also do background checks and have an online assessment that they have to go through, and answer questions correctly about different scenarios."

Setterwall, who was a management consultant and then dabbled in entrepreneurship with an online headhunting firm, is originally from Sweden where he had a Rottweiler Luca. …

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