**Story first aired July 2012

A California startup that sends dogs on vacation home stays while owners are out of town is offering pet owners an attractive alternative to traditional boarding.

Launched in March in Los Angeles and San Francisco, DogVacay now has thousands of users and more than 8,000 hosts.  It’s just arrived in a number of Canadian cities, including Vancouver and the Victoria-area. 

Dog owners can choose from scores of boarding options, including 24/7 supervision, staying with other dogs at someone’s home or a one-bedroom apartment in a downtown setting. 

Husband-and-wifeteam Aaron and Karine Hirschhorns started the company after finding themselves “guilt-ridden” relying on friends to dog-sit their two puppies. 

"I liken it to a dating site, because basically the dog owner can assess the dog’s needs, what their needs are -- and search through hundreds of people in their area to find the perfect fit,” Karine Hirschorns said. 

The Hirschhorns believe their business is better than a kennel, where “Spot will be stuck in a cage all day.”

Home boarding gives your dog individual attention, fun with a small number of well-socialized dogs, and supervision from a responsible pet owner -- at a price that doesn't add up to more than your vacation, Karine Hirschhorns says.

Prices range anywhere from $20 to $55 a night, depending on accommodation.

The DogVacay website allows pet owners to search their city and scroll through the dog owners in your area to see who might be a good match for your dog. 

There are currently 15 B.C. doggy homestays on offer.

Bubba and owner Sarah Enright are offering to share their Mount Pleasant condo with another pooch for $42 a day – or$37 a day for an extended stay.

"Once you're taking care of one dog, taking care of two of them is actually a little bit easier because they keep each other occupied,” Enright said. 

Pet owners can schedule a meet and greet to make sure they're comfortable with the surroundings.  

DogVacay offers insurance for both sitters and owners, up to $25,000. The site also encourages hosts to publish photo and video updates of your pet while you’re away. 

There’s also a 100-per-cent money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. 

The service also encourages people who don’t have time to care for a pet on a regular basis to become a part-time pet-sitter, setting their own hours and schedule.