Los Angeles transplants Jon Kolker (Pikesville) and Gareth Wilson (Towson) are the co-creators of Where My Dogs At, an application, currently in the beta testing stage, that is aiming to be the go-to source of information on dog-centric locales and a social media hub for the dog-owning community.
“There are so many dog owners and so many people who have mobile phones, but no one has really figured out a way to make a really amazing app for dog lovers that’s both useful and fun,” said Wilson, 29.
The core concept of the app is comparable to Yelp – an online service that provides individuals with background info on anything from restaurants to hotels and also allows for user-generated reviews and ratings. Where My Dogs At offers a similar platform, only it’s specifically tailored to people looking for the best places to take their dogs.
For the last several months, the Where My Dogs At staff has worked to aggregate data from places such as dog parks, veterinarian offices, pet stores, restaurants and apartment buildings. Users from across the country can also submit information on their favorite places, and the content is reviewed and confirmed by the team in Los Angeles. Dog owners can also rank places by submitting their Paw of Approval on a scale from one to five.
At the same time, Where My Dogs At features elements akin to Facebook. Users can utilize their accounts as profiles for themselves and their dogs and have the option to make friends with fellow dog enthusiasts or send them an “Arf,” a “Wag” or a “What-up dog?” They can also check in or “mark their territory” when they frequent one of the dog-friendly places listed in the app’s registry.
Said Kolker, 28, “This will be the app for dog lovers.”
The creation of the app spawned as a result of Kolker and Wilson’s friendship.
The duo became best friends in first grade at The Park School. They were both members of Beth Tfiloh Congregation. Wilson moved to California after the eighth grade, but the two reignited their friendship in grad school at the University of Southern California.
The next piece of the puzzle was Edmund, or Eddie, the cocker spaniel Kolker took in a little more than three years ago. Attached to his pup, Kolker would always walk around town wondering which places were the best suited for both he and his dog. Kolker presented the question to Wilson who suggested that the dilemma laid the perfect framework for a potential app.
Now, Kolker is CEO and Wilson is president and creative director of Better Pet, Inc., which they started about a year ago. The company’s chief technology officer is Richard Lung. Their first product, Where My Dogs At, has been in the works for more than two years. Even in the testing phase, it lays claim to more than 15,000 users nationwide. The release of the app’s first official version is scheduled for September, and Kolker said the goal is to have more than one million users by this time next year.
Dog owners’ affection for their pets is the key to the app’s value. They want to include their furry friends in their day-to-day lives. Where My Dogs At, Kolker and Wilson said, is the first app to provide a convenient and fun way to achieve that goal.
“It’s healthy to explore your city or wherever it is you are, and it’s even better if you can bring your best friend,” Kolker said.