In the country, where I grew up, a dog led its own life: traveling about freely – with owners or not – and showing up for dinner and some relaxation.
In and around the city, it’s up to owners to make sure dogs have a happy, fulfilling existence. When I found myself the proud owner of a young rescue pup, I became all too aware of what I couldn’t give her: a big field in which to run and romp, other dogs to meet and play with, a roast chicken for dinner every night.
Okay, maybe not that last thing, but I do take my responsibility for her health and happiness seriously, and I know how crucial regular interaction with other dogs and recreational exercise are to these.
I can provide some exercise – runs, hikes and Frisbee – a yard and a nearby park. And we are fortunate to live in a dog-friendly community. Still, busy schedules and long workdays can mean a lot of time alone for Miko and not enough playtime. Often on our morning runs, she wants to stop and socialize with another dog, but we don’t have the time.
BarkHappy, an app launched in July 2015, came to the rescue. It aims to help get her out of the house, playing and socializing more with other dogs, making friends and even doing more with me.
With it, I can find nearby dogs and set meet-ups, send out “wags” to dog owners to say “Hello,” create a “pack” to organize group events and invite others in the neighborhood to join.
The app includes a map of nearby dog-friendly restaurants, bars, parks and hotels, as well as vets and businesses that offer pet supplies and services such as dog walking, day care and grooming.
Users can rate the businesses, add businesses not on the map and receive alerts on goods and services. And owners can search more granularly for pet-friendly amenities such as water bowls, patios, covered seating, places allowing dogs indoors, etc.
In addition, the app lists local dog-friendly events such as happy hours and weekly meet-ups. There are also pinpoint lost-dog alerts: Users create a detailed report and mark on a map where the dog was last seen, and the alert is sent to dog owners in the vicinity. Finally, the app offers tips on such topics as socializing a puppy and traveling with your dog.
When I searched the list of nearby pups available for play dates, I realized there were many dogs of similar size, age and disposition nearby whom we had yet to meet. This has opened up another, more social world for my pup – and me – to explore.
Operating system: iOS, Android
Creator: Ninis Samuel
User ratings: iTunes, Five of five stars (109 ratings); Google Play, Four of four stars (92 ratings)