The hottest commodity in Quebec: a dog that needs walking after 8 p.m.
MONTREAL -- Resisted the urge to get a pandemic puppy? Looks like now you're stuck getting a rental.
A new form of bartering in Quebec probably would have appeared sooner or later, but it appeared almost instantly. After provincial authorities announced a new 8 p.m. curfew -- with one exception for walking dogs -- the online ads began to appear.
"Dogs to rent separately for your outings during the curfew. Accessories supplied," wrote one woman posting on the Kijiji buy-and-sell website on Wednesday night.
The listed price? $100 per hour.
The woman's profile said she lived in Saint-Jerome, about 45 minutes north of Montreal.
The curfew, which begins Saturday and will last for a month, is the first of its kind in Canada. It's meant to help Quebec tackle its soaring COVID-19 infection rate, the highest in the country right now.
Under its rules, the only people allowed to be outside after 8 p.m. are those going to or from work with an employer's authorization letter, going on an essential errand to a pharmacy (grocery stores will be closed by 8 p.m.), or people in the midst of a genuine emergency. They'll also need to provide proof, even if that's just a receipt from the pharmacy.
There's one exception, however: people may walk their dogs at night, as long as they stay within one kilometre of home.
The woman in Saint-Jerome wasn't the only one who smelled a golden opportunity.
"Following the curfew imposed by the Quebec government, we are offering dogs for rent for walks between 8 pm and 5 am from January 8 to February 8, 2021," wrote a man listed as being in downtown Montreal.
"Hurry and make an appointment, the available slots are disappearing quickly!"
In a postscript, he added "You have to sign a paper committing to pick up the poop."
Those dog walks are a comparative steal at $50 per hour.
The man later responded to a question from CTV, confirming that "it's a joke :)"
When asked if he really had been getting a lot of responses, he said it had been only "laughs and insults."
But the woman who posted from Saint-Jerome later got in touch with a slightly more complicated story. The ad began as a joke, she said.
"I needed to laugh at the situation and get some levity into my day by conspiring with my niece, because these are pictures of her dogs," she wrote.
"On the other hand, I could certainly fill my availabilities for real, with what I see, since there are actually people interested."
Soon after, however, she said people had reported her ad to Kijiji so she planned to delete it.
Neither ad addressed some pressing logistical questions: whether the dogs would be staying overnight with the renters, or if not, how the walker would manage to drop them back off at the owners' house and then get home without being caught by police on the way home.
In any case, Quebecers will have a whole month to figure things out.