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Online marketplace gives dog owners a run for their money

Brooklyn couple's DogGo Dash service lets dog owners hire avid runners to exercise their pups.

Marathoner and part-time dog runner Julie Smith, of

Marathoner and part-time dog runner Julie Smith, of Brooklyn, runs with a Vizsla named Tucker on Monday. Smith and Tucker were paired up through a new marketplace called DogGo Dash. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Some New Yorkers like to take a daily jog to boost their health and stay fit.

But for many of the city’s four-legged denizens, a good long run is a necessary part of urban life.

That’s what Danielle and Patrick Robak learned when they started running with their high-energy dog, a vizsla named Denver, near their Brooklyn home.

“We saw immediately she was happier and more well-behaved in the apartment after a run,” said Patrick Robak.

The couple, who both work in the financial services industry, realized their solution was also a unique business opportunity.

“This is something we are passionate about,” Danielle Robak said. “We love fitness and running and we are huge dog lovers.”

Last spring, they started the DogGo Dash Club, an online marketplace that matches dog owners and runners.

Patrick and Danielle screen potential runners before allowing them to post their information, availability and fees on the site. Dog owners can sign up for free and view profiles and reviews of each runner.

Runners set their own prices for 30- and 60-minute running sessions and DogGo Dash gets an 18% commission on those fees. A recent scan of the site revealed most prices in the $20 to $30 range.

The couple recently moved to Nassau County but keep their business focused on New York City.

There are currently about 120 members on the site, runners and dog owners. And the Robaks said that number has climbed steadily over the last year.

“We do background checks and ask for multiple references,” Patrick said. “We check every single reference. We have a close relationship with all of our runners — we believe we are a community more than a marketplace.”

One of their successful matches is Julie Smith, a runner from Park Slope, and Tucker, a vizsla owned by Sara Laughlin, who lives on the Upper West Side.

Smith, a seasoned marathon runner, said Tucker is the perfect companion for long runs along the Hudson River.

The charismatic (and photogenic) pooch even has his own Instagram account.

“When you can see a dog so happy to be outside and moving, they don’t care if it’s cold, they don’t care if it’s raining they just want to be moving,” Smith said. “It is so motivating.”

Laughlin said Tucker needs a lot of exercise and loves the attention that Smith lavishes on him.

“Having a dog in the city is not like the suburbs when you can let them run around in a fenced backyard,” Laughlin said. “We are up with him every morning in Central Park before we go to work. But it’s still a challenge.”

She has learned a tired-out dog is also a happy dog.

“This really wears him out and fits him well,” she said.

Danielle and Patrick Robak said they host monthly fun runs and other activities so dog owners and runners can mingle in a comfortable environment.

“We try to go beyond the structured platform so people can make a connection on a personal level,” Patrick said.


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