Monday open thread

Ya’ll hold down the fort til I return, which hopefully will be later this afternoon, if not then definitely tonight. In the meantime, check out this adorable little guy in the pic below. And then read this story about a rent-a-pet service in San Francisco and you’ll wonder what the hell they’re thinking:

SAN FRANCISCO — From the state that popularized purse puppies, drive-thru dog washes and gourmet dog food delivery comes the latest in canine convenience — a company that contracts out dogs by the day to urbanites without the time or space to care for a pet full-time.

Marlena Cervantes, founder of FlexPetz, bristles when people refer to her five-month-old business as a rent-a-pet service. She prefers the term “shared pet ownership,” explaining the concept is more akin to a vacation time share or a gym membership than a trip to the video store.

“Our members are responsible in that they realize full-time ownership is not an option for them and would be unfair to the dog,” said Cervantes, 32, a behavioral therapist who got the idea while working with pets and autistic children. “It prevents dogs from being adopted and then returned to the shelter by people who realize it wasn’t a good fit.”

FlexPetz is currently available in Los Angeles and San Diego, where Cervantes lives. She plans to open new locations in San Francisco next month, New York in September and London by the end of the year.

She’s also hoping to franchise the FlexPetz concept so the dogs will have housing options other than kennels when not in use. For San Francisco, she’s hired a caretaker who plans to keep the dogs at her house when they aren’t on loan to members.

The poor dogs could go from owner to owner until someone decides to adopt it. This gal gets it:

Melissa Bain, a veterinarian with the Companion Animal Behavior Program at the University of California at Davis, said she had concerns but no hard-and-fast objections to a service like FlexPetz.

On the positive side, it might give people an easy way to test the ownership waters and keep a few dogs from being euthanized, Bain said. Possible downsides would be irresponsible members who treat the dogs like a lifestyle accessory instead of a living thing.

“It depends on the people and it depends on the animal. Some dogs may be fine and some may become stressed because they are moving from home to home,” Bain said. “Perhaps they had a good experience with a good part-time owner and then they get shipped back. What kind of message does that send to kids? That dogs are disposable.”

What kind of message does it send to the dog? You’re not worth keeping. Dogs aren’t like carpet cleaner machines you can rent at the store that you return once you’re done. They, like kids, deserve stable, loving, long-term environments in which to live in, not short-term commitments for ‘conviencience” sake. If you can’t devote 100% of yourself to a dog, then for his or her sake don’t to “rent” it. Sheesh.

Oh, and I haven’t seen anymore updates on little Adam in the news nor at the Sonoma County Forgotten Felines website. I’ve emailed to see what the latest news is. I’ll let you know what they say.

Caption:A long-coated male chihuahua named ‘Heart-kun’ with a heart-shaped pattern on his coat sits at Pucchin Dog’s shop in Odate in northern Japan in this July 10, 2007 file photograph. The chihuahua puppy has become Japan’s latest heart-throb after he was born with a heart-shaped mark on his coat. The dog, named ‘Heart-kun’, was born on May 18 at a pet store in northern Odate. Shop owner Emiko Sakurada, who bred over 1,000 puppies, believes his unusual markings have brought her luck. The dog became a celebrity after a local television station aired pictures of him. Picture taken July 10, 2007. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

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