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Need some puppy love? App allows users to borrow, lend dogs

Latte, a 1-year-old Maltese Yorkie.

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Latte, a 1-year-old Maltese Yorkie.

Are you flying solo this Valentine’s Day?

You are. Well, what about a date with someone who has a cold nose and slobbery kisses? He or she may hog the bed and demand your tender loving care. Still interested? There’s an app for that.

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It’s called Bark’N’Borrow and it allows users to borrow as well as lend their dogs for short or long periods of time. It’s been called a “dog dating service.”

Bostonians seem to be smitten. There have been an estimated 1,500 active users each month in Boston since the app’s official launch in November.

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The online marketplace brings dog owners, dog borrowers, and professional dog walkers and dog sitters together to share their love of canine pets. Kyle Austin, a Bark’N’Borrow spokesman, said it’s become an increasingly popular digital haunt during the holidays. People have down time and want to spend it with a four-legged buddy.

The best part? After an interview with the dog owner and proper vetting, borrowers are allowed to spent time with their canine of choice for free. Bark’N’Borrow is not a pet rental service. The leasing of pets was banned in Boston, and statewide, in 2008.

“[Borrowing is] a good opportunity to give the dog to someone who loves being with a dog,” Austin said. “Rather than just someone who wants to make money.”

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Laura Pierce, 30, who splits her time between Boston and Connecticut, downloaded the app shortly after it launched. Pictures of her two Golden Retrievers, Dazee, 8, and Henry, 4½ months, drew more than 30 messages. She hired a dog sitter and organized a play date for Henry and a little boy (whose mother is allergic to dogs) in their Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The majority of recent messages are from couples who’d like to surprise their significant others with a doggie date.

“It creates a community in the way that you picture your neighborhood being 30 years ago when everyone was entrenched in the places they lived and more apt to say hello and strike up a conversation because of your dog,” Pierce said. “I have 20 messages I haven’t responded to about a weekend coming up later this month.”

Software developer Michael Sisti, 25, of Cambridge, has been waiting days for puppy love. He wants to surprise a someone special, but his requests to borrow a dog have so far gone unanswered.

“So for the past week I’ve reached out to 10 or so pet owners,” said Sisti, who owns two dogs, a Sheltie named Buddy and a Pomeranian, Teddy. “I haven’t lost any faith. . . . It’d be a total surprise, and I will be heartbroken if it doesn’t work out.”

The dogs remind people of the pets they grew up with or their own pets who live far away. Shandana Mufti’s two Tibetan Spaniels, Wamrong and Rewa, and her Corgi and Spaniel mix, Milou, all live in Pakistan. She tried to borrow a dog in December, but because of glitches with the app she signed up to dog sit for free instead. A few days later, Latte the Maltese Yorkie was staying with her for a month.

“He was a great stress reliever,” Mufti said. “It was just having a dog . . . to have someone to hang out with all the time. I’m definitely an animal person more than a people person.”

Cristela Guerra can be reached at Cristela.Guerra@globe.com.
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