I am super excited for my trip to NYC in just a few short days. Thursday, we’re driving down to Buffalo, and from there, we’re flying out to New York City, and staying until early on Monday morning. While I am hugely excited about this trip, I figured I’d tie it back into my abandonment of Gwynn, because I have a bit of experience in pet-abandonment when it comes to vacations. Things like camping and trips to see relatives might be appropriate vacations on which to bring your dog (or your cat, I’ve seen cats in camp-grounds), but most vacations aren’t really pet-friendly.
He’ll be looking morosely at my suitcase when I pack, and he’ll mope around the house a few days when he realises I’m not coming back at the end of the day. He’ll get lots of walks from my family, lots of affection, and lots of time to romp in the grass. He will be kind of sad the entire time I’m gone (or so my family tells me… he‘s always happy when I see him), and when I come back on Monday, I’ll take him on a big long walk, and he’ll forgive me for abandoning him.
I’m lucky in that respect, that I live at home, and can ask my family to take care of him. Even if I didn’t live at home, but lived in the same general area as my family, they would probably agree to let him move in with them for a few days. Or Tall Sister could move into my place for a few days and take care of him.
I figured I would mention some of the options people have when going on a trip, since, in my neighbourhood I am one of those options.
This is the ideal situation for caring for your pet while you’re away. Your animal doesn’t get stressed out by being relocated to a strange place, and the pet-sitter is also caring for your house, mowing your lawn and taking in your mail. For a dog, I would say the pet-sitter should absolutely be staying over at your house. For one thing, your dog needs to be let out regularly, and for another, they aren’t nearly as independent as cats. Your cat won’t like that you’re gone either, but he is used to doing his own thing and can use the litter box.
When we had cats, we often had this arrangement with our neighbour – She would come over in the morning and evening to feed them, and she would spend time there in the evening giving them attention, cleaning the litter boxes, watering plants and bringing the mail in. There were two of them, so they could keep each other company, and my neighbour spent a lot of time cuddling them and giving them affection. They were still very unhappy about being left behind, and very very happy to see us when we came back.
The dogs I house-sit (staying overnight) are ecstatic to see their owners return. There is a huge difference between the greeting I get and the greeting the dog’s owner receives after being away for a week. What I’m trying to say here is that there is no substitute – your pet wants you. Even if you‘re gone for a month, or two months, when you come back, your pet will be SO HAPPY. He also might have peed on your chair, chewed your favourite shoes, or yakked in your slippers while you were gone, as retribution.
A lot of vets offices board pets, and it means that the person who is most knowledgeable about your pet‘s health is the person taking care of him. Gwynn has stayed two nights at the vet, but not because I was going away. When he was getting fixed, they required that the dog stay the night before, in order to get accustomed to the veterinary office and give them a chance to do blood work prior to the day of. They require that the dog stay the night after, because it means that he has all of the drugs from surgery out of his system, and it gives them a chance to make sure he‘s not suffering from any complications. He is just as excited to go to the vet‘s office now as he was before we ‘abandoned‘ him there- very excited. I don‘t know if this is common, but he loooooves the vet. He was excited to see us, but according to the vet-tech, he was a sweetheart, and not terribly concerned about being surrounded by strangers and in a strange place. Your vet will make sure to exercise the dogs properly, though only in very secure areas (no park-time for fido) – my vet has a dog-run out back where they walk the dogs on-leash. Your cat will likely be given a chance to stretch his legs a bit, and get some affection.
Kennel or boarding or doggy daycare
Having never used this type of service, I can‘t say much about it. Make sure the place you‘re signing up for pays attention to the health of the dogs they allow to stay. I got hired last-minute by a couple whose dog was going to spend a week at a kennel, but came down with a cough. Nothing serious, but it was enough for the Kennel owners to say that he couldn‘t stay there. This kennel also had him over for a day a few weeks prior to his owners departure, to determine what his temperament is, and establish whether he was a dog that would play well with other dogs. You‘ll find that at doggy daycares as well – they don‘t just let any dog in, they want dogs that socialize well with other dogs. The doggy daycares will take your dog for a day, or overnight. The advantage I could see with a doggy daycare is that, if your dog already stays there a few times a week, he will already have lots of friends to play with (and be fully distracted by) during the day.
Regardless of what method you choose for your pet, the most important thing is that you feel confident in the people who will be caring for your pet. You want to make sure you trust the pet-sitter, because they not only have your pet, they have your house-keys, and know when you‘ll be back. You want to make sure that the kennel is respectable, safe, clean and responsible.
A lot of writing, and I’m sorry about that, but I hope it‘s gotten you to thinking about how you‘ll care for your pet when you‘re off somewhere fun without him.
I will feel guilty about leaving Gwynn for my trip, but I know he‘s in good hands and will recover from his mope-iness when he hears the beep of my car door locking in the driveway.