I’ve done a lot of research (read: watched a lot of YouTube videos) about Japan’s kitten cafes where Tokyo residents who can’t adopt a cat for whatever reason can pay a couple hundred yen and play with some adorable munchkin kitties for an hour or two. I’d been genuinely surprised at the absence of a puppy parallel in New York, where there are hundreds who really, really, (really) want dogs of our own, but whose apartments or lifestyles just aren’t accommodating. Long story short, Katherine Long stole my idea.

Last week, she brought her Collie/flat-coated retriever mix, Ocho, to Central Park with a homemade “Rent-a-Dog” sign. She charged five bucks for twenty minutes with the handsome pup. But don’t give Long the entrepreneurship medal yet. Her operation is a much more altruistic one. She told DNA Info her dog-rental establishment was “spreading the word about rescue groups. People see my dog and say, ‘I’m hanging out with a recue dog, and the dog is pretty awesome.'” Long sent all the money she made to Ruff Start Rescue, a Westchester-based rescue agency that saved Ocho from certain death at a high-kill shelter earlier this year. Long included a note about how the funds were raised.

Twelve twenty-minute slots were filled on Saturday afternoon, with a waitlist of even more hopefuls. “We would have stayed longer, but Ocho was so tired,” said Long. Word to the wise: Long, Ocho, and a Shepherd/Labrador mix named Isla will be near the West 85th Street pedestrian entrance to Central Park on July 1, starting at 11:00. Bring your dollars and your dog treats. (Photo: Nate Grigg/Flickr)