Yeah, we know you. You may think you look normal. That you blend in with all the other people on the street. But we can see you. We see it in the turn of your head. In your wandering eyes. In your barely controlled, reaching hands. Evolution left you behind. Everything you’re supposed to feel for babies — sudden weak-kneed delight, uncontrollable desire for your own, a complete loss of vocal modulation — you feel uniquely and singularly for pets. The need to hold their soft little faces in your hands? Pets. Giving unsolicited approval to their caretakers when you’re walking down the street? Pets. The dawning existential awareness that you’re not getting any younger, and if you’re going to start building the kind of life you’ve always pictured for yourself, you should probably start soon? Pets.

The dog stares at the treat. The cat stares into your soul.

But times are tough for a pet-loving urbanite. A lot of apartments don’t allow them. Those that do usually have size limits, and let’s get one thing clear: dogs aren’t dogs until they pass 25 lbs. End of story. Before that, they’re just shaky cats. And even without “The Man” keeping you down, pets are just downright expensive. So what’s a poor LIMP (Low Income Minimal Pets) to do?

Get down with OPP (Other People’s Pets), that’s what.

It should be easy, right? We’re living in the Golden Age of the Sharing Economy. From bikes to bedrooms, you can borrow just about anything you need from someone else. Animal companions are a little different, though. That whole “I’m responsible for its life and it’s kind of my best friend” thing makes people just a tad hesitant to just let you just up and borrow their schnauzers for the evening. And you can’t just take them without asking because that’s stealing, and we here at Vimbly don’t endorse violating social contracts. Instead, you need to have a bit of a strategy. Getting people to let you use them to get to their furry friends takes just a little bit of legwork. But look! What’s that? It’s a handy dandy guide!

Selective Online Dating

She got into this relationship for one reason, and it’s not those suspenders.

Contrary to your mom’s beliefs, the internet has become a completely valid way to fulfill almost any need — human and animal interaction included. You don’t even have to search too hard for pet-having partners. Lots of people use their pets as clickbait on their dating profiles, casually trading in portraits of themselves in bathing suits for selfies with their terriers and tabbies. Her face alone is a 5, but that ever so conveniently featured shepherd mix bumps her up to a 9 in your book. And look! She likes Firefly!

DO: Schedule your first few dates during good weather and at pet friendly times of day. Sorry, you can’t make it for drinks this evening. But this Saturday looks like it’s going to be sunny. 2pm? Little Spartacus needs an afternoon walk? Gosh, you don’t mind joining at all!

DON’T: Blur the boundaries too much between time spent with your new partner and her pet. Hanging out on the couch with Professor F. Fuzzington while you watch a movie is one thing. Having him in the room during romantic interactions is another. What we’re trying to say is, don’t let pets watch you, you know, do… things. EVER.

DO: Try to keep your options open for a little while. You shouldn’t be deceptive or go around rubbing tummies behind anyone’s back, but come on. You’re young. Have some fun. It might take a few times around the park before you find Mr. Right and his Irish setter.

DON’T: Stick around if the person is actually awful. No matter how many tricks his doberman knows, it won’t make up for the fact that spending time with your actual date makes you want to tear your eyes out. Not forever, anyway. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and also a bunch of dogs in the greater metro area. Get back out there and try again.

Dog Parks

In all fairness, it’s an excellent stick.

Given their shockingly convenient location inside “human parks,” it’s easy to casually place yourself at the epicenter of canine frolicking. Hanging out at a dog park has a lot of benefits. They offer the most breed diversity, the greatest likelihood that the dogs you want to pet are friendly, and a very reasonable and believable justification of your presence there.

DO: Bring some other form of entertainment as an alibi. Oh, you? Why, you were just reading this here Informative and Culturally Relevant Book on this randomly placed bench. But gosh, you’ll get ahead and pet the friendly pups that stroll on by you. It would be rude not to, right?

DON’T: Bring a frisbee if you’re coming alone. You might think it’s a good choice, given how conducive it is to canine interaction, but remember: the frisbee is your alibi. And the only thing sadder than an adult playing frisbee is an adult who looks like he’s hoping a stranger will come along and play frisbee with him.

DO: Also talk to the dogs’ humans. Not only does it stop you from seeming like an antisocial creep, but it opens up the opportunity to perhaps get to know this new person with the awesome puppy. Maybe she’s cute. Maybe you have things in common. Maybe you can form a friendship that will give you repeated access to Sparky.

DON’T: Go inside the enclosure if you don’t have a dog with you. It might start off alright, if you join a group of people while the dogs are playing off on the other side. But once you start petting someone’s pup, the dreaded “Which one’s yours?” is bound to come up, and your halting, sweaty  “Oh man! Where’d he go?” isn’t fooling anyone.

Volunteer at a Shelter

Let this chicken show you how it’s done.

We won’t beat around the bush, here. This one’s going to tug on your heart strings. You’re going to want to adopt every cuddly kitten and waggy puppy who crawls across your waiting lap, not to mention the distinguished elder residents. And that’s okay. You’ll work through it. Because ultimately, not only are you fulfilling your own visceral desire to be surrounded by a sea of affectionate fur, you’re also doing a good deed. Shelter animals need lovin’, and you’re just the human for the job.

DO: Give your local SPCA or private rescue a call and see what they need. Walking? Play time? You’re all over that.

DON’T: Let that soul crushing Sarah McLachlan commercial turn you off of the idea of hanging out at a shelter. It’s an emotionally manipulative ploy, and your experience won’t actually be anything like that. You know the one we’re talking about. And if you don’t, ignore this and pretend we never said anything about it and pick up the phone already.

Universities During Finals

Once a semester, campuses celebrate the arrival of therapy dogs, which is generally announced beforehand on university websites. Pale, sleep-deprived academics crawl out of the stacks, groggily stumbling towards the campus center for 20 minutes of belly scratches and ear rubs. Do a bit of googling and get in there with them!

DO: Allow yourself to be enthusiastic. The students around you are trying to jam 12 weeks of biochem into their heads in 7 hours. This is the only happiness in their recent past or foreseeable future.

DON’T: Overdo the enthusiasm. Scratch one dog for a few minutes, compliment his dashing little red vest, then move on to a different one. If you start hogging the puppies, someone will ultimately notice and report you.

DO: Blend in a little. Dress casually. Wear a backpack. Don’t shave for a few days (this applies to all genders).

DON’T: Try too hard to blend in. No skateboards, no school swag, no pop culture references that you think “the kids” are into these days. You want to look believably old, like the TV actors they cast as college freshmen. Not like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School.


 Not so good.

Move Back Home

Your dad may be disappointed you’re back, but Rusty’s not.

Actually just don’t do this. It’s going to seem like a good idea at first. The fridge is always magically full, the bills pay themselves, and you can hang out with Fluffy and Mr. Piddlebottom 24/7 without sneaking around. But after two weeks of passive-aggressively renegotiating power dynamics with your parents, the novelty is going to wear awfully thin. Better to go back to the top of the page and choose some of the other options.

In Conclusion

If executed correctly, these methods are guaranteed to give you your pet fix (as opposed to getting your pets fixed) — at least temporarily. Because let’s face it: your desire for a furry friend runs deeper than you’d like to admit. It can be really, genuinely hard going through life without an animal companion. The world is big and scary and cold, and finding someone (something) whose sole mission in life is to love you can make it a whole lot easier — even if it’s someone else’s. Oh, and some people have cats, too. Sometimes cats let you pet them for a minute before they try to rip off your fingers. That’s generous of them.

Hang in there

Other people’s pets not filling the void for ya? Not to worry.

Our Vimbly Game will give you a personalized list of activities to help you find the fun and excitement you need.

Plus, check out the rest of our blog for other awesome guides and compelling blog posts.