Work was put on hold at Evansville Living on the afternoon of Jan. 18, when a four-legged friend strolled through our lobby. Sporting a hot pink “Adopt Me” bandana and matching leash, 2-year-old Zoe was on an adventure with photographer Zach Straw and me as part of It Takes a Village No Kill Rescue’s Rent-A-Dog program.
“We have quite a few people do the Rent-a-Dog program every week. In the summer, it’s very popular,” says executive director Tangila Smith.
After picking up Zoe at ITV’s office, we set off for two Rent-A-Dog bucket list spots. In the Starbucks drive-thru, Zoe received a free Pup Cup. The dollop of whipped cream was gone in a flash, but Zoe’s wagging tail lasted as we continued to the Evansville State Hospital Park.
The vast grounds had plenty of geese and squirrels for Zoe to attempt to chase. Here Zoe, a white and brown mixed breed, was also introduced to Zach’s family, who brought her a new toy and gave her meaty treats we brought — which may or may not have been a bribe to pose for pictures.
Our two hours with the program’s most popular pooch were gone too fast, but we weren’t the only ones who fell in love so quickly. One of ITV’s longest residents — she arrived in March 2021 — Zoe was adopted by her most recent foster a few weeks after our outing.
The free program is available to the anyone with a valid driver’s license anytime during ITV’s hours of operation. Most human participants seek short-term animal companionship, or a test run with a possible furry addition to their family.
Participating is simple. Present your driver’s license and follow a few basic rules: Pets aren’t allowed inside dog-friendly businesses like Petsmart, cannot go inside private homes to meet other animals, and must be returned to ITV by closing time. The shelter also gives renters everything they need for a successful day: a leash, water bottle, collapsible bowl, and disposable waste baggies.
“We want to promote that (the dogs) are adoptable,” says Smith. “And we’ve had a lot of dogs adopted because of the program.”
Take the leash