Whole Dog Journal's Blog May 8, 2013

It’s already time to plan for your dog’s vacation!

Posted at 03:48PM - Comments: (5)

Lots of dog owners I know are making plans for summer travel – and negotiating with friends to dog-sit.

I had agreed to care for a lovely young Border Collie for a friend’s parents while they traveled to their native Germany for a month, but they’ve decided to “award” her custody to their next-door neighbor, who owns her favorite playmate, a young Boxer. I’m hideously disappointed; I have a crush on that dog! But maybe it’s for the best. I don’t know if Otto could handle my ardor for the BC, or a month of playing patient Uncle Otto to a pushy canine “teenage” girl.

And as it turns out, I know another family who is traveling to Germany for a month the following month, and their regular dog-sitter is unavailable. So their sweet, middle-aged Papillon-mix will come stay with me for a few weeks – until a few days before I take a week to go see my son play in an international tournament in Toronto. Then she’ll go to another family, and my dogs will be looked after by Christine, the receptionist at my local shelter – my current favorite dog-sitter.

Of course, there are reciprocal understandings. Anyone who sits my pets has a standing offer for my services when they need them.

Professional pet sitters have their place, but personally, I feel a lot better swapping care with people I know well and trust – especially people who have similar styles of caring for and adoring their pets like I do. Even if I’m just out of town for a day, Christine emails me photos of my dogs (and cats) snoozing and playing and looking cute – and texts me mini reports like, “They were so glad to see me and Brandi (her dog) when we got here after work! Otto woo-woo-wooed for a whole minute!” and  “Tito has been guarding his empty bowl for about an hour. I finally had to throw his ball so that I could pick it up and he could relax.” She GETS my dogs!

The only trick to all of this is early scheduling. I can’t believe I am making plans now for late July, but thank goodness I am, because my friends are, too, and we need to coordinate these trips. Otherwise, especially after a bad experience with a marginal sitter last summer, I just wouldn’t go anywhere.

Comments (5)

After hearing good reviews from friends in the bay area, I joined DogVacay.com as a host when I started working from home last fall. My dogs and I have had a great time hosting dogs at our place. I have been cautious to accept only visiting dogs that are compatible with my two pups & two cats, trying to do a meet & greet in a neutral location first if possible and that has certainly helped ensure success. DogVacay is a small, new-ish company (2012) but they are working hard to grow and have been very supportive and responsive to my feedback. Not all hosts use positive training methods, so definitely do your homework. Every host is given a custom coupon to offer $10 off first time bookings without limits. Enter CALISTOGADOGS when booking (good with any host, in any location). Feel free to message me with questions at dogvacay.com/pro/calistogadogs

Posted by: amcnair | May 21, 2013 11:30 PM    Report this comment

We're very fortunate to have good friends with whom we trade dog sitting and our dogs love playing with each other! I've seen a lot about dogvacay.com where you can find a local dogsitter for your dog IN someone's home rather than a kennel and you can even offer your home to other dogs. You can scout the place first, bring your dog over to meet the people and their dogs, etc to see if it's a good fit. It would be an option we would consider if we ever need to go outside our "circle." Not sure if anyone out there has had any experience with them?

Posted by: sdbeachgirl | May 15, 2013 11:33 AM    Report this comment

I have the same problem as a previous poster, Carolyn. I, too, am in a rural area and most of the people in this area have a different attitude about pet care. We currently use a professional pet sitter and she loves our dogs but she's very busy and can't spend a great deal of time with them.
I'd like to travel with my dogs but size (up to 75 lbs) and number (currently 5) make that virtually impossible.

Posted by: DENISE F | May 14, 2013 5:27 PM    Report this comment

I just read a great (but short) one page article in Martha Stewart magazine (June 2013) which lists one hotel chain & about 8 vacation places you can vacation WITH your dog. Places listed were in Vergennes, VT, NY City, Carmel, CA, Aspen, St. Michaels, MD & Chicago.

Many of the dog-friendly inns/lodges/cottages included: dog beaches, dog swimming areas, dog hiking trails, etc. The Volhard's dog & owner "training camp" was not mentioned, but I think this subject (pet-friendly places to vacation WITH your dog) might make an excellent, expanded article for WDJ.

Many of us have had BAD experiences with kennels or pet sitters & do not trust anyone to take care of our dogs. I am sure that there are a lot more (wonderful) un-mentioned places. Maybe you could solicit suggestions, from subscribers.

Posted by: Betsy | May 14, 2013 2:31 PM    Report this comment

Lucky you! I've been trying to identify potential dog sitters and offered myself. I'm new to the community and am having a hard time of it ... luckily Esme can travel many places with us, but it sure would be nice to park her somewhere with someone she knew and trusted and that I know and trust! We've missed out on a couple of travel opportunities simply because there are no great kennel options (and my lightly vaccinated dog would need bordetella, for one) and I have not found anyone needing reciprocal care. I'm in a lightly populated rural area and often people have "outdoor dogs" so their concerns are not the same as mine with regard to care...

Posted by: azogal | May 14, 2013 12:55 PM    Report this comment

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