Coming Home to My Dogs

Traveling is great, but my dogs are better.


Like most dog owners, my dogs top the list of things I have to deal with when I come home from a trip. I was away from home for five nights and six days, having traveled to Memphis for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers‘ annual conference (which was awesome), and then one extra night in San Diego, to watch my son compete in the national championship for his sport (which was not quite as fun; his team lost in the finals and he got a minor concussion!).

I landed at the Sacramento Airport on Sunday night at around 10 p.m. By the time I got my bags, took a shuttle to my car in the long-term lot, and got onto the highway, it was about 11. By the time I got home, after 12.

Planet Dog Squeak balls

My husband was asleep on the couch, “waiting up” for me. He was awakened rudely by the loud thumping of Woody’s tail, which strongly whacked everything he walked by – the fridge, the door, the washing machine (I left my bags in the laundry area). My husband grumbled a greeting and went to bed. I stayed up for a bit, unwinding from the road and letting Woody help unpack my suitcase. I had bought a bunch of fleecy toys from a booth at the conference (at an irresistible special price!) and he found each and every one and took them out of my suitcase. He also sniffed long and hard at the sample bags of dog treats that had been in the conference registration bag. “Hey! Mom! Look! Candy!” All those got zipped back into my suitcase once my clothes were sorted out; I would take them to the office the next day.


I woke up Monday morning at 7 a.m. Central time – otherwise known at 5 a.m. Pacific time. I got up, and took a stroll with Woody around our property, throwing what’s left of his favorite $17 ball. My husband played fetch with Woody a lot while I was gone, to keep Woody’s energy in check, but he often forgets to take away the ball after the last throw. These Planet Dog Squeak balls are like crack for Woody – he loves them like no other. They last a loooong time – but only if I don’t let Woody have unsupervised time with the ball. The balls hold up well to bouncing, getting caught, and the incidental chewing that happens while Woody brings it back, but it can’t take the intense, extended chewing of an unsupervised dog with massive, strong jaws. I made a mental note to add a new one to my next online food order.

A friend was hosting six of the 10 foster puppies I had been caring for all month; on the day I left town, I had left the four largest puppies at the shelter. They had spay/neuter surgery on Wednesday and went on the adoption row on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Disappointingly, not one had been adopted. Puppies usually fly off the shelves at my shelter, but we have had several large litters up for adoption recently. Dang! Born into a puppy glut. The shelter is closed on Sunday, so my friend had picked up the four who had been altered, so they could have Saturday night, all day Sunday, and Sunday night outside and in a home environment.

So as soon as the sun came up, I drove over to her house to pick up the four pups who had been altered and bring them back to my house. Woody and I then led them all over the property and got them good and tired before delivering them back to the shelter at 10 a.m., when the kennels open for adoption hours. This way, they sleep all day at the shelter, instead of getting stressed and whiny.

woody and otto napping

I had left Otto with my sister Pam and her husband, so he could be spoiled at their house while I was gone. At my house, Otto sleeps on either a big, comfy dog bed or the couch. At my sister’s house, he has staked out the extra high, extra plush, queen-sized bed in her guest room as his very own. My sister reports with glee, “He sleeps with his head on the pillows, even!” Personally, I think he likes it because it’s the only place my sister’s little dogs can’t reach; he doesn’t like being touched while he sleeps.

Pam has Mondays off, so she brought Otto to my office shortly after I got back from dropping off the puppies at the shelter. I got to greet Otto as Woody greeted my sister, holding his face in my hands and kissing his forehead, which he likes. Then he grumbled as Woody excitedly greeted him. “Get out of my face you dithering idiot!” he roared. But his tail was wagging.

sleeping mixed breed puppies

Ah…everyone back where they are supposed to be – at least until we can get all of these foster pups adopted. Travel is fun, but getting home to my dogs is the best.