Share My Pet founders, Dave and Lili with their dogs and horse

In Conversation with NZ’s Pet Sharing Innovators


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Ever thought: “If only I could share my pet with someone who loves them when I’m busy or away”? It turns out pet sharing can benefit many people on the other side of the same coin, too. We’re talking people young and old who love animals but can’t own one because they don’t have time or space or simply can’t afford to.

What happens when you put these people together and unite them around their pets? You get the perfect match. Pets get to benefit from more love, more attention and more experiences. People get the benefit of the pet experience without having to own one full time.

Hence, the success of pet sharing services such as local business Share My Pet.

Dave, Lili and their perky pups Muppet and Snout

How Share My Pet began

For Dave and Lili, founders of Share My Pet, their perky pups Muppet and Snout have always been conversation starters. Whether they’re out playing in a dog park or walking on a dog friendly beach in New Zealand people stop to say “hi” and ask to give a friendly pat.

Often this leads to more meaningful conversations and the couple have listened closely to what people say. “Sometimes someone’s pet has died and they’re not ready to move on and get a new pet but they nevertheless miss the companionship. People living and working in New Zealand on visas also can’t get pets – even though they may crave the company.”

The couple found it interesting how many strangers wanted to meet and greet their two sociable pups. Almost everyone who didn’t have a pet of their own still wished they could have that special experience. Even if they weren’t in a position to own one full time.

Knowing how much Muppet and Snout loved the added attention, Dave and Lili realised other Kiwi pets could benefit from extra attention too. This was the lightbulb moment that grew into the Share My Pet concept and community.

Lili and Dave share how Share My Pet got started

How do you share a pet?

How do you ‘do’ pet sharing? Well, we’ve all heard of couples sharing pets (nowadays some even get a pet prenup to protect fur kids in case of nasties down the line). Pet godparents are also a thing.

More commonly known however, are, pet sitters and kennels, or pet boarding as well as fostering a dog or cat. NZ even has wonderful services like Canine Friends Pet Therapy, a network of volunteers who share their pets with people who reside in nursing homes, and hospices.

But back to pet sharing…

One big pet-loving community

The concept behind Share My Pet is relatively new and new ideas take time to establish. Since starting the Share My Pet community four years ago Dave and Lili have seen interest grow. They now have thousands of followers and a community of pet owners and pet borrowers.

Once you’ve taken the time to create an online profile you can see how many other owners and carers live near you. You can message them and start to build a connection. One of the key ingredients to successful pet sharing is knowing that even if you’re a part time pet owner, you need real commitment. After all every pet is unique and even as a part time pet person you’re still building a relationship.

It’s this understanding that can make pets and people fulfilled and happy. Of course there are many other benefits to sharing a pet too.

Share My pet borrower Alister and pup pal Koru
Alister and his borrowed four-legged friend Koru enjoys hitting the trails together.

Benefits of pet sharing for pets

When Dave and Lili first thought of Share My Pet it was because of how much pets would benefit. Only after their business launched did they realise the big positive impact pet sharing has on people too.

Since all of us are united around pet health and happiness, let’s begin with benefits to pets.

Like people, pets benefit from affection and attention. They often have a much greater appetite for interaction than most of our schedules allow for. When it comes to cuddles, walks and playtime for dogs and cats, they tend to need lots of it.

On the flip side, pets can also seriously suffer from a lack of enough time and care spent with their human. Separation anxiety in pets is a watchword but it can also lead to things like obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs and more.

Why should we leave our pets wanting for love when there’s a whole heap of animal lovers who long to experience pet ownership, even just part-time. This is what it’s all about.

Pet sharing helped this member adopt her very own pup
Pet borrower Roxy from Nelson was dating not just one local dog but three! She now has her own rescue pup.

Benefits of part time pets for people

If you did a survey of how many children around the world are, at this very minute, pleading with mum and dad for a puppy or kitten, the results would be big. But since we don’t have that type of big data, let’s just look at some of the top benefits of pet sharing:

  • Worried cat and dog allergies might be a problem – try out a part time pet to find out
  • Choosing a family pet but not sure how to get the right match – pet sharing is real life discovery
  • Hooked on the idea of a particular dog breed but don’t know about the reality? Share a pet to find out
  • Becoming a first time pet owner and need to learn about pets’ needs? Viola
  • Love animals but don’t have the budget to feed and home one full time… you don’t need to!
  • Said goodbye to a pet who’s gone to heaven but still have lots of cuddles to give?
  • Live somewhere that doesn’t allow pets but pet sharing can mean visiting them or walks in the park?
  • Wondering should I get a pet if I work full time? Share a pet instead
  • Like pets but don’t want one 24/7 – you don’t need to!
  • Want a puppy but don’t know what it will be like once it grows? Google 3D animals can’t beat the real thing
  • Have a pet who could benefit from pet playdates – enter Share My Pet
Share My Pet borrower, Eleanor with pup Timmy Gill
Eleanor, a student from Wellington, regularly spends time at pet friendly cafes with her little pal Timmy Gill.

So many reasons, so many benefits

As pet owners the benefits are just as diverse.

Just think how happy you are when you go away for the weekend knowing they’re happy and cared for. You might be trying to enjoy your travel but worry knowing your Border Collie needs lots of exercise.

Or, it might be that you’re couchbound with a broken foot yet still want to indulge your Siamese kitten’s love of endless games of chasie.

Another big one is welcoming a new baby into the house. Many pets get left wanting at these crucial times but with pet sharing that need never happen.

It could also be as simple as the wonderful feeling of coming home from your desk each day knowing your pooch has had its daily walk.

Here’s a video featuring one of the ‘Share My Pet’ members:

Pet sharing is becoming more popular; here’s why

When Share My Pet first started Lili and Dave were met with a bit of confusion and uncertainty. Most of us weren’t au fait with the idea and needed a bit of proof of concept. But four years on the concept is growing from strength to super strength, giving more Kiwi pets more cuddles.

When PD Insurance asked Dave and Lili what they think is behind the growing popularity of pet sharing they shared some interesting points.

Share My Pet member Hannah takes a borrowed pet to a party
Share My Pet borrower Hannah takes a furry friend to a party.

A post COVID pet dilemma

Lili explains that during the pandemic we spent 24/7 with pets. Pet love helped us navigate COVID and suddenly leaving your cat home alone or leaving your dog alone at home for hours on end didn’t seem natural. We realised how happy that time together made us and didn’t want to go back to the old normal.

Technology enabling community

Dave adds that the online experience is often dubbed as isolated and lonely, but Share My Pet is using technology to bring us closer. He explains that the internet has also helped reshape peoples’ ideas of sharing. Airbnb and Uber have paved the way for people to share items once thought un-sharable.

Pets are now beginning to enter this space too and, as long as this is done responsibly with full commitment, they and we can seriously enjoy the benefits.

Nelson based carer Hannah on a date with a furry friend
Nelson based carer Hannah on a date with a furry friend.

Award winning pet insurance

Dave and Lili say they advocate for any pet owner – whether pet sharing or not – to get pet insurance for their pets.

For us as pet parents, there’s no way we would ever want to be without pet insurance. We never want to be in a position where something’s happened to our pets and we have to make financially tough decisions on the fly. We want to do our pet justice in their hour of need.

We agree; no pet should ever have to be medically stranded because they don’t have pet health insurance. Pets are incredible and can get into incredible fixes. Whether that’s being bitten by another pet, developing a hereditary condition or needing treatment for gum disease.

Get one or more months of FREE pet insurance with PD today, with no lock-in contracts. Click below for more.

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