Summer Vacations -- Where Do The Pets Go?

FOCUS ON PETS

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Vacation time is here. What does one do with the dog or cat or guinea pig when the family goes away for a week or more? The first choice, for the dog at least, is to go with the family. If a car trip is in the plans, taking the dog might be possible and add a whole new dimension to the trip including more fun family activities.

Many trips simply cannot include the dog. And in multiple pet households, it is almost impossible. Not many friends and relatives, no matter how loving and kind, welcome a whole menagerie. For these times, there are a variety of options available today for pet care.

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Hopefully your dogs can share a kennel. Be sure there is shade, shelter and room to move around and that current vaccinations are required for all dogs at the facility.

Boarding kennels are always an option, but in small residential areas, there are not a great number to choose from and availability is limited especially in peak travel times. Some veterinary clinics provide boarding services. Generally in a kennel, your pet is safe. Hopefully, there are runs that allow for moving inside and outside and at least a walk or two a day and maybe a romp in a larger pen. He will enjoy visiting through the fence with other dogs. His environment is secure and as long as he and the other dogs have all their shots, he should stay healthy.

The pet sitting industry is booming across the nation and even in Pine, Strawberry and Payson. These pet sitters will come to your house as many times a day as you find necessary and are willing to pay for, but two is the norm. They will feed and water your plants as well as your pets. They will take your pets for walks or otherwise spend quality time with them. You do not need to worry about them catching ailments from other animals. But they can still be lonely as the days are long when they are alone. If using a pet sitter, be sure to have her come to your home ahead of time and see how she interacts with your pets.

Another option is to have a house-sitter. This person will be there off and on during the day and will spend the night. This is probably the most comforting for the pet if that person likes your dog and your dog likes her. This service is rather expensive, but if you have several pets or you want the added security of having someone at your home, it just might be worth it. Choosing that person requires careful screening. A college student or someone who lives in an apartment might be a good candidate and love the opportunity to spend time in a house with a yard and all the amenities.

Some people will take a dog or two into their homes though they are not really a kennel. They might have some runs set up but often, the visiting dog will get the same treatment as the homeowner's dog which hopefully would include being invited into the house. Making sure that the dogs get along is vital and also, you want to know that this person takes good care of his own dogs.

Which one to choose? Michelle Powers from Powers Animal Care says it all depends on the kind of life the dog has when you are there and his personality. You must know your dog. Is he used to you being around all the time? Are there several pets who can keep each other company? Dogs that are an only pet need more attention.

The nights and days can be very long for a pet alone. A normally meek and mild dog might do naughty things if he is bored and lonely. He cannot understand that you will be back in a few days or a week. All he knows is that you deserted him. Some dogs might prefer a boarding situation where they can get out and play with other dogs. Other dogs can get very stressed being in a kennel.

Michelle has many horse owners among her clientele and most of these have several pets besides the horses. Recently she cared for a household with 17 animals.

Laura Hammond of Strictly Pets in Strawberry does a lot of in-home pet care. She recommends a pet sitter rather than a kennel for a pet that is used to being home alone and is not destructive. For a dog that needs special attention or medical care, a kennel might be the best bet. Although she mostly does daily home visits, she will spend nights in people's home. She recently stayed in a home with two dogs, two exotic birds and several feral cats. These dogs have never been in a kennel.

Have your pet up to date on all his shots no matter where he will stay. Provide all medical information to the person who is caring for your pet along with a phone number where you can be reached and a contact person to call if you are not available. Hopefully, if your pet is away from home, you can bring his own bed and a few toys, his own food and dishes and some special treats.

Which ever option you choose, choose it carefully. Check references and talk with people who have used this service. Consider your pet first and foremost. What is best for him? Know your pet.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.

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