My BorrowMyDoggy Student Adventure: Making Four-Legged Friends
student Hiruni with borrowed Labrador Bodhi on an adventure in Newcastle

My BorrowMyDoggy Student Adventure: Making Four-Legged Friends

22 May 2023

Written by Hiruni Fernando, student at Newcastle University.

How did you first hear about BorrowMyDoggy, and what made you as a student decide to give it a try?

I first heard about BorrowMyDoggy a few years ago when a school friend, who was a bit older than me, started borrowing a dog through the platform. She would post loads of cute photos of her borrowed doggy and of their adventures on Instagram.

I couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of my friend as I have always wanted a dog but have never been allowed to own one.

At the time, I was only 15 and not yet old enough to sign up for BorrowMyDoggy. However, when I got to my second year of University, I discovered I had some days with no lectures and thus plenty of free time. It felt like the perfect opportunity to finally give BorrowMyDoggy a go!

At first, my housemates were a bit baffled by the idea of borrowing, but once I showed them all the cute dogs waiting for us to take them on unforgettable walks, they soon got on board.

Can you describe your first experience borrowing a dog through the platform, and how it made you feel?

After setting up my account, I began messaging dogs and their owners.

My first reply was from a lady and her dog Cooper (not his real name for privacy purposes!). They lived close to my second-year house, so we scheduled a meet-up at her place. It was best for me to meet them both in an environment familiar to Cooper, as he was still a puppy so not yet well-socialised.

As I knocked on this stranger's door, I remember thinking  it was a bit like going on a blind date. Which isn’t really too far from the truth.

The temptation to flee did cross my mind..

However, my anxiety was soon eased when I got chatting to the owner, who was lovely. We went on a short ‘test’ walk together and then said our goodbyes.

Alas, as with real dating, Cooper and I were not the match made in heaven that I had longed for; as Cooper was still a young pup and I didn’t have much experience with dogs. Nevertheless, the experience was still a positive one, and the search continued for my new furry sidekick. And that’s when I met Bodhi!

student Hiruni with Bodhi, the Labrador

How often do you typically borrow a dog, and for how long do you spend time with the dog each time?

Personally, I have found it really rewarding to develop a relationship with Bodhi, and he is the only dog I look after. However, some of my student friends at other universities who use BorrowMyDoggy like to walk lots of different dogs. It really depends on the person!

I usually see Bodhi every week (otherwise I miss him too much!) on Wednesdays because I have no lectures then.

We like to go on long walks around my Uni city of Newcastle, where there are some really lovely parks. And then there’s the ever-growing Bodhi fan club, desperate to see him as we go on our travels. I typically spend around 6 hours with Bodhi. Fortunately his owners are really flexible so it could be longer or shorter on occasion.

Have you developed a relationship with any of the dog owners whose dog you borrow, and if so, how has that impacted your experience?

Yes, I have developed a great friendship with Bodhi’s parents, and I always look forward to catching up with them. They went to Newcastle university too, so we have lots to talk about. In particular their bar recommendations and night-out memories from ‘back in the day’ -  just kidding if they’re reading this!!

What specific aspects of spending time with a dog do you find the most helpful for reducing anxiety as a student?

At drop off, seeing Bodhi’s adorable smiling face and wagging tail is enough to brighten my day. The joy he brings is contagious to everyone else too - all of my friends love him too!

I also benefit from the exercise I get from walking him. As he’s a lab, Bodhi never seems to get tired, so I don’t really realise how much exercise I’m doing while running around with him. Until I get home and I feel absolutely exhausted! This of course releases lots of endorphins, which is great for eliminating university stress.

Although I’m lucky enough to not struggle with anxiety long-term, I can definitely see how BorrowMyDoggy can help those who do. Especially for students who have left their beloved pets behind at home.

Dogs provide companionship for those who may be struggling with loneliness at university, offer unconditional love, and a non-critical listening ear.

Universities have recognised this, and some have adopted wellness dogs on campus, which is great. However, because these schemes are so popular, it can be challenging for students to book one-on-one time with them. This is why BorrowMyDoggy is a win-win solution.

It supports students throughout their studies while simultaneously helping out the owners!

Student stories

Hey there!

Want to hear about a different kind of dog care that both you and your dog will love?

Or perhaps you’re a dog lover who can’t have one of your own right now?

We have the pawfect solution, BorrowMyDoggy!

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