Proper Pet Boarding Takes Advanced Preparation

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Here I am in Massachusetts while all three of my dogs are spending the time in a boarding facility. It is a new experience for all of them.

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Megan and Gibson check in to Payson's Furry Friends with their bed and a bag of toys and goodies.

I realized as I left them that I should have prepared them better.

Megan and Gibson are together, so they will adjust quite easily. Higgins is alone in a kennel in the Valley. I wish he would have spent a practice night prior to his long stay, giving him a feel for the place while reassuring him of my return.

Preparations for the care of pets need to be made right along with the family's plans, and well in advance if the pets will be left behind around a holiday. Some people book kennel space a year in advance. Being on a waiting list and not knowing what you will do if your pet cannot get in is unsettling.

A responsible kennel will insist that your pet is up-to-date on all shots. If they do not require this, find another kennel. It is just too risky to put him in danger of picking up some contagious disease. These vaccinations should be given well ahead of time in case the pet has a reaction, giving you time to seek medical attention.

Some kennels require bordetella, the vaccine to help prevent kennel cough. This vaccine is administered directly into the nose. Bordetella is not part of the regular vaccination package.

Generally, the kennel will provide a fairly decent quality of pet food. If your dog or cat is on a special diet, you will have to provide it. Make sure you bring enough for the duration. Kennels will feed your pet according to your instructions. However, most kennels feed twice a day.

Even if you only feed once a day at home, let him be fed along with the rest of dogs at the kennel. It would not be fun to hear the rattle of feed dishes and food being consumed by all your neighbors while you have nothing. And also, twice-a-day feeding gives your pet something to look forward to.

The kennel will have rules about what you can and cannot bring for your pet. You can certainly bring a couple of his favorite toys.

Ask whether they allow his bed or blanket. A chew toy or bone to occupy some idle time would be good, along with his favorite stuffed animal. Find out all the rules. Bringing an old shirt or other item that has the familiar smell of home and loved ones can be very comforting.

Bring an ample supply of any medication and complete instructions. Most kennels charge a fee for administering medication. Include the name and phone number of your veterinarian.

If you have two dogs, normally you would have the option of having two in one kennel or having them side by side. Most kennels charge a reduced rate for the second dog if they are in the same kennel.

Extra services are most often offered for an extra fee. An extra walk, play time or some other individual attention will help to pass the time for a lonely pet. The kennel in Scottsdale has a bone shaped pool available for an extra charge.

Many boarding facilities offer grooming. The kennel fee should include a couple of daily outings.

The comforting part about a kennel is that you can be quite sure your pet will be safe. He may be in a small space -- without all the comforts of home, but he cannot escape, get into poisonous substances or get lost. He might be lonely, but chances are, we will be lonelier than he is.

Picking up your pet after the separation can be very emotional for all. He may act a little reserved, letting you know that he was not pleased to have been left behind. Or he may just be delighted to see you and act like you only left him yesterday.

When you get back home, it is best not to offer food for a few hours until the excitement of being back with the family has passed. Have plenty of water available. Taking a walk or sitting quietly with some good ear rubs is a nice way to celebrate the homecoming.

There is a common belief that dogs have no concept of time, that a day or a week at a kennel would feel the same to the pet. I cannot buy this concept.

However, I do think that as the days pass, they feel more comfortable and fall into the routine. I certainly hope this is the case. I am counting the days until I will be back at home with all my dogs once again.

Christy Powers 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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