0803robotdog.jpgFor those who want more time with a furry friend than a visit to a dog park can provide, and less of a commitment than a full-time pet would bring, enter: FlexPetz. The company rents out real dogs and opened in New York last October...and yesterday's NY Times article has proof that people are actually using it.

Ms. Stevenson explained why she was a customer: “I’m single and moved here from Scotland two years ago, and it’s been difficult to meet people because everyone in New York just kind of goes about their business. But when I’m walking around with Oliver, I seem to get into so many conversations about him. It becomes a nice way to meet people.”

The owner of the company, Chris Haddix, says “There are a lot of people out there looking for companionship,” and their five or six dogs available for rent can fill the void.

The company rents out dogs they've rescued from shelters, and is currently housed at the Wet Nose Doggy Gym at 34 East 13th Street. While it may be a better, albeit unstable, atmosphere for the dogs to be in -- the program seems a little bit wrong. Not to mention expensive, a monthly membership costs $279.95, and only includes four one-day rentals. Additional rentals cost $45 for a day.

As Treehugger has previously suggested, why not save your money and be a part-time dogwalker, or better yet volunteer at your neighborhood animal shelter.