Ready, Jet-set, GO!


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.

Pet-sitter

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. 

Vet

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.

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10 Comments

  1. We went to New Orleans for about 4 days. My friend was supposedly checking on my dog. She waited all day to take him for a potty. I won’t ever ask her to take care of him again. He was so upset over the lack of attention, he licked himself raw until it became a sore and then he nipped and licked to keep it clean and essentially it got worse.

    We had to go put his cone back on until it healed. After talking to her, I realized she barely had time to get over here and then would only spend a few minutes with poor Ozo!

    HAVE FUN in New York! So, you’re on that side of Canada where you can easily drive and cross the border into New York? I’ve never been to Canada!

    Sandi
    http://www.ahhsome.wordpress.com

    • Aw, that’s terrible! It’s unfortunately difficult to be entirely sure of your pet-care, and once you’re gone, it is really hard to check up on your dog and the person caring for him. I always feel bad when pet owners are stressed at the idea of leaving me with their pet and their keys, because until they’ve come back and found everything safe and sound, how can they really KNOW for sure that I’m reliable, no matter what references I might have. Gwynn was at the vet for two nights and it had me wired for sound – SO stressed out, and so upset – and it was the vet’s office, with lots of contact between me and the vets. I’m not looking forward to the first time I have to get a pet-sitter (the family won’t always be free to take care of him)
      I’m pretty close to the border (only an hour or two), and it is sooo much less expensive flying to NYC from Buffalo than it is flying out from Toronto. And I highly recommend visiting Canada – there are a lot of very cool places to visit, whether you’re interested in a city trip, or a camping trip, or something in between.

  2. When I was growing up, my family had one kennel we always took our dogs to. They took good care of the dogs, so much so that they would come back, having gained a couple pounds while they were there.

    • That sounds like the ideal situation – finding a place that works really well and that you can be entirely comfortable leaving your dogs with. The kennel my aunt’s dog goes to is enough fun for him that he hardly pays attention to her once they arrive there.

  3. Have a great time in NYC! You are very lucky to have family to watch over Gwynn while you are away. We’ve always been lucky enough to have my sister around to watch Gus when we travel. Worrying about Gus is always the most stressful part about being away.

    Glad to know you’re in the Toronto area…we’ll be there this fall during our travels and would love to pick your brain for some dog-friendly areas!

    • Once I know a bit more specifically about where you’ll be, I can definitely recommend some good places to go. There are lots of good running trails as well.

  4. We are lucky that my mom lives with us and if we have to go away, she is there to feed Sampson and Delilah and let them out as much as they need to.

    We also have a wonderful dog trainer who is also our friend, so if mom needs help we can rely on Sara. I know that Sampson will lie at the top of the stairs waiting for us to come home. I myself have a difficult time leaving them, I can’t stand to be away from them.

    When we go on our “normal” family vacations I always look for a house that allows pets, it is far more relaxing for me to have them with me.

    Here is CT we have a boarding facility (that I have heard of) that has cameras on the dogs and you can check in via the internet and see how your baby is doing. If for some reason I didn’t have someone to watch them, that would be the place I would want.

    Nice article!

    • I’ve heard about people setting up webcams to watch their dogs while at home, but this is the first I’ve heard of the boarding facility doing it – what a great idea! Plus, if they’re willing to film themselves, you know they’re not hiding anything from you – not easily anyways.
      I definitely plan to take Gwynn on a lot of my trips – he comes with us to visit family, and will be up camping this summer as well. Plane rides, however, I think I’ll hold off on.

  5. I always use pet sitters for my dogs on the rare occasion I leave home. I don’t like taking them out of their home while they are also dealing with the shock of me being gone. Yes, we did set up webcams the last time in the places my dogs seem to congregate. We attached them to my Iphone somehow. Don’t ask me how, my husband is the tech in the family. It made me feel better to see them comfortably watching TV rather than freaking out while I was away. And yes, I also watched the pet sitter’s interactions with them. I was pleased. She did more than I expected and really gave them a good playtime and affection time while we were away. It gave me more confidence that I could leave them in the future.

    • I agree – I think a dog is less upset (not entirely fine, but less upset) about his owners leaving if he at least stays in his own home while they’re gone.
      I kind of want to set up a webcam to monitor my dog while I’m gone – just to see what he does when I’m not around, with or without other people there. My family all tell me that he mopes around the house when I’m not there, and cheers up immensely when I get back. Since I only see the bubbly SO-HAPPY-TO-SEE-YOU side of my absence/return, I can’t really judge about that. Gratifying as it is to be reassured that I am the favourite, I hate to think he’s miserable when I’m gone.
      I also think that a webcam might be useful to see if he’s ready/non-destructive enough that I can leave him loose in the house without coming back to find a disaster zone. Being able to monitor what he gets up to if left to himself and loose in the house would be useful. Though I have a feeling that sleeping (in the front hall, on his pillow, in his crate, near the back door, etc) might play a major part in his home-alone time.

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