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Man’s Best Part-Time Friend

Just because you work long hours, travel often, or simply have a very active social life doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a canine pal, right? That’s the premise behind Flexpetz, a shared-ownership plan that allows members to spend time with one of their dogs for as little as an hour in the park or up to several days at home.

Already established in San Diego and Los Angeles—“Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing a Flexpetz dog with a movie or television star!” the Web site exclaims—the company plans to expand to Washington next spring. (Perhaps you can share a pet with a member of Congress?) From miniature pinschers to Labs, Flexpetz offers a range of breeds and sizes to accommodate different lifestyles. As a member, you can request time with the same dog regularly or try out a different one each time. Memberships are valid in all Flexpetz cities.

A part-time dog doesn’t come at a part-time price: There’s an initial $150 fee, an annual charge of $99.95, a monthly charge of $49.95, and fees for each day you have a dog—$39.95 for weekends, $24.95 for weekdays, plus sales tax. A dog bed, leash, food and water bowls, and prepacked food are included, but if you need the pet brought to you or picked up, it’s another $17.50 each way.

All of the dogs are either rescues or were in urgent need of a new home and are fully trained, which partially accounts for the fees. They’re also fed holistic Kumpi dog food, see a veterinarian every three months, are given “refresher” training sessions, and are fitted with a GPS tracking collar. When not with a member, the dogs live in a home environment with a primary caregiver and enjoy lots of walks and play time.

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