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.