As if Brooklyn wasn’t already the most dog-friendly borough in New York City—it’s about to become even more so. Enter Dog Parker.
Dog owners know the ethical quandary well: do you sneak your dog into a store and hope no one says anything or leave the precious bundle of love tied up outside while you run errands? The former is easy to get away with if your dog is a wee little thing; however, the situation becomes a lot different when you’ve got a toddler-sized 50 pounder (are toddlers 50 pounds? Rough estimate. You know what I’m getting at). The latter is what most of us resort to—tie the pup up on some bench and hope he doesn’t have a meltdown about you “abandoning” him. While seeing you walk away (possibly forever! He has no idea you’re coming back) may be his biggest fear, there’s the very real fear within you that someone may take him. People kidnap kids—and let’s face it, a dog is way more fun than a kid—so why would the threat not exist towards your pooch?
Chelsea Brownridge, founder and CEO of Dog Parker, came up with a simple solution to the dog owner’s continuing dilemma. Brownridge is a proud dog owner (and lover) herself of a lovable pup named Winston. She felt the continuing frustration of how difficult it was to run errands with Winston, who hated being left alone at home, which started to really weigh heavily on her. Desperate to figure out a solution to this common struggle all dog parents know well, she whipped up the idea for Dog Parker. These small houses, which are set up outside of participating local businesses, aim to protect your pup from any outside threats—including unfavorable weather conditions—giving you peace of mind that he’s safe while you shop. Dog Parker marketing representative Victoria Dower explains, “It’s not only about dog theft, which has been on the rise, but it’s also about some people’s dogs who just don’t do well in that open environment. They may have anxiety or they’re not comfortable being pet by a stranger”. Rebecca Kaye, who also works in marketing for Dog Parker, adds “or if another dog comes along. Leash aggression is a real thing”. Another common issue? Dogs can come loose and run away—nobody needs that trauma.
So what does this little house actually do to protect your dog? Well for one, the dog is completely locked in. The only way anyone can unlock Dog Parker is with their own individualized RFID-enabled member card. This means if you start a session, only you can end the session.
It’s impossible for another member to come along, scan their card while your dog is inside, and open the door. This feature can also help you rest assured that your dog will be the only one in the house while you’re gone. Other dogs will have to wait their turn—sorry buds! Don’t worry if you lose your member card either—the accompanying Dog Parker app, which you can download to your smart phone, has the ability to lock and unlock the house when logged into your account. Alternate caregivers or co-parents of your dog will also receive a copy of your unique member card upon request.
Keep in mind that Dog Parker isn’t meant to take place of a doggy day care and you will not be able to leave your little buddy in there for long periods of time. The absolute longest you can occupy the space is 90 minutes, upon which you will receive a notification that you must retrieve your dog. The house’s sole purpose is to provide a safe space for your fur friend while you run into a coffee shop to grab a sandwich or use the restroom on your way to the park—it’s not somewhere to leave him while you brunch with friends.
Other attractive features of Dog Parker include auto sanitation. This is accomplished with UV lights, killing any bacteria, viruses, or molds, and cues automatically between uses (dogs must be up-to-date with vaccinations to use Dog Parker, a pre-requisite when signing up for an account, guaranteeing it a healthy environment). There’s also the thermo-control component which will cool your dog down during warmer days and keep him cozy during cooler ones. My personal favorite feature of Dog Parker is the little camera placed inside that allows users to check in on their dog via app at anytime—these people really thought of everything.
As of now, the only Dog Parker location in Williamsburg is in front of The Bean on the corner of North 11th & Bedford, but there are other locations in Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Boerum Hill, etc. But as the demand grows, the company plans to add additional Dog Parkers in neighborhoods where they are most utilized or requested. Kaye further explains:
“We’re trying to monitor demand and usage really carefully right now which is why we chose to deploy in Brooklyn first. Our whole team is here, including our maintenance team, so we feel we are more connected with the community. We can talk to people. We have a location survey up and running so people can suggest locations. We’ve been calling our current members as well, asking where they would like to see one and we’ve been getting lots of great responses. So we have been using those reccomendations and speaking with businesses, letting them know that this is something their customers want. As demand grows, we might find that we want to put two Dog Parkers next to eachother”.
Dog Parker has about 100 more houses they plan to sprinkle throughout Brooklyn, and perhaps other boroughs, as soon as possible. Locations slated to pop up soon include 667 Driggs Avenue, 139 North 7th Street, and 183 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg (check out all upcoming and current locations here). Dog Parker intends to expand outside of their home borough as they continue to mature, but for now this new and exciting technology—which has gained national (and international!) notoriety and demand—is exclusive to us Brooklynites only.
To learn more about Dog Parker, including pricing and membership, you can visit their site http://www.dogparker.com/.