It’s that time of year again. The time when millions of dogs take to the highways.
American Thanksgiving is coming up fast. It’s the biggest travel day of the year. If you’re visiting distant friends or family and have a dog, he’s probably traveling too. And you have a big decision to make.
Should you board your dog? Take her along with you? Or let her stay home with a petsitter?
I have never boarded my dogs. My first dogs, Agatha and Christie had severe separation anxiety. And Agatha didn’t like other dogs. Heck, she didn’t even like her sister.
But boarding kennels have been around for years and many dogs tolerate them well.
Boarding facilities in my town feature radiant heat floors, piped in music, and home-type rooms with soft beds. Heck, sign me up. It sounds nicer than my house.
Personally, I would not leave Honey in a boarding facility for an extended stay while I traveled without doing a test first. An overnight visit while you’re still in town is one way to see if your dog likes a boarding situation before you travel miles away.
Pros of boarding your dog
Cons of boarding your dog
If boarding is not a good fit for your dog, it’s getting easier to take him with you.
This is always my first choice. But sometimes it’s impossible—especially if you’re flying.
If you take your dog with you, you’ll have lots of decisions to make. Where will you stay? In a hotel or with family? Will your dog tolerate the noise and excitement of a family gathering? Does your family like dogs?
Once you decide to take your dog with you, use a website like Go Pet Friendly to plan your doggie road trip. The last thing you need is to try to smuggle a mastiff into a hotel room because you can’t find one that allows dogs.
Pros of taking your dog with you
Cons of taking your dog with you
Once you’ve committed, check out my tips for making traveling with your dogs for the holidays as stress-free as possible. And if you decide not to take your dog with you, you could leave him at home with a petsitter.
It was hard to go to Panama for a month and leave Honey behind. Luckily, Honey’s best (human) friend is also a terrific petsitter. Our absence was no big deal since our petsitter stayed in the house and was with Honey in the mornings and evenings. Honey’s schedule changed very little from what it would be if I was home.
And that’s the ideal.
I believe that most dogs, if they can’t be with you, would at least like to be surrounded by your smells. At home.
Pros of having a petsitter stay with your dog
Cons of having a petsitter stay with your dog
I’ve given a lot of thought to making sure my dogs have a good experience with a petsitter. I spelled it out in today’s guest post at Keep the Tail Wagging. I hope you’ll check it out.
Of course, who says you have to travel for the holidays at all? If the purpose of a celebration is to enjoy it with those you love, maybe the best place for you to be for the holidays is at home. With your dog.
Your Turn: What do you and your dog do for big family holidays? Do you hit the road? Or do you stay home?
I’ve fine tuned my planning to make sure Honey has a good experience with a petsitter.
I prepare a vet permission letter authorizing my petsitter to seek treatment for Honey in case of an emergency. I leave a thorough list of important numbers, including the microchip company’s. And I make a petsitter check list for myself so I don’t forget anything.
Sign up below to get your copies of these helpful petsitter printables.
Don’t forget to click the email that confirms that you signed up to get the printables. If you lose the email in your spam folder or forget to reply, you won’t get the petsitter printables.
I like sharks.
Probably because I’ve carefully avoided seeing Jaws, Sharknado, and anything on the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.
But is it smart to swim with them?
When we take Honey to the dog park, I’m a very hands-on person. We don’t enter if we see dogs belonging to out-of-control people. I call Honey to me to keep up a physical connection even when she’s excited by the other dogs. And I don’t let Honey rush up to every dog without my checking out the situation first.
One day I saw a man and his Doberman enter the dog park from a rear entrance.
The Doberman ran to the highest point in the park and surveyed her surrounding. The dog’s energy was so intense that I grabbed Honey by the collar to keep her from rushing up to the Doberman until I could observe the situation.
In moments I decided the Doberman was no threat to Honey. She took a strong, watchful posture. But she was not tense or worried. She was just surveying her environment, like a shark observing the sea life all around her.
I had the feeling the Doberman would not be very interested in my bouncy golden retriever. But I left Honey to find out on her own if the Doberman wanted to be her friend.
Honey ran up but slowed down to approach respectfully from the side. The two sniffed each other briefly. Then the Doberman ran off to play ball with her person.
I never saw the Doberman play with anyone but her person. But she had a strong presence in the dog park.
And I was glad Honey peacefully coexisted with the beautiful, calm, and self-assured dog that couldn’t care less about the other dogs in the park.
Through my first two years in high school, I was extremely shy and awkward. (Yes, I can hear the snorts now from blogville friends who have met me live. I’m the last person anyone would call shy today.)
I felt terrified of drawing attention to myself.
In high school, I felt like a lonely shrimp surrounded by swimming sharks.
One day, with my hood over my head and sinking as low as I could into my bus seat, I had an amazing thought. “None of these people cares if I live or die.” I suddenly felt light coming in through the cracks. No one cared about me one way or the other. Woo hoo!
To a healthy and happy person that must sound awfully dark. But in my gloomy self-consciousness, it was earth-shattering good news.
Because if no one cared if I was there or not, I could just get on with my life and stop worrying that the sharks swimming around me would notice me and turn me into dinner.
After that, my whole life changed. It’s not that I never feel self-conscious or awkward. Or that no one picked on me in school.
But it felt so temporary and unimportant. Because everyone else was dealing with their own stuff. And I didn’t rise to anyone’s notice most of the time.
That revelation led me to do all kinds of weird things in public without worrying what people thought of me. In my life, I have:
When I go snorkeling for the first time next month, I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of a shark.
Many people consider the 365 islands of the Kuna Yala, where we’ll be sailing, a paradise—except for the sharks. And crocodiles.
But I’m not afraid. I suspect that sharks are like self-assured Dobermans and high school cheerleaders. Just taking care of business and not terribly interested in me.
You can find anything using Google, right?
There are at least 5 things I want to know about my dog. But when I do a Google search I come up with nothing.
C’mon Google. Why can’t you answer these questions?
Just try doing a search. Google has no answers.
Maybe there is no answer. If you wear contacts and live with a golden retriever, prepare for pain.
She comes running when she hears the opening beats. But ignores barking and howling on any other video. Google has no idea why.
It grows. It needs trimming. But Google can’t tell me why.
If you ask Google, you’ll only find admonitions to always scoop that poop. But no explanation of how dogs can create poop on an empty stomach.
If I keep typing questions about my dog into Google and don’t get answers, where can I turn?
I guess I’ll just have to ask my dog. Unfortunately, she’s not talking.
Congratulations, Julie and Gizmo! Julie, don’t forget to send me your mailing address so I can send you your prize.
To everyone who was curious about the flushable dog bags, Flush Doggy will send you two free samples for just the cost of shipping. Just try them out and see if you like them.
And, if you do, support Something Wagging This Way Comes by ordering your Flush Doggy bags through our affiliate link. You won’t pay any more for your bags but our small commission will help us pay our hosting costs.
Your Turn: What what you most like to know about your dog that Google doesn’t know?
People are more important than things (I include animals with people in this statement).
This is my mantra.
I repeat it over and over as I look over my wrecked garden. The garden that was once a vision of loveliness to my neighbors and me. The garden that recently became a playground to Honey and her canine friends.
But instead of feeling heartsick, I’m going to look at the positive side of having dog gardening services.
1. I’ll learn which perennials are truly hardy.
If they can survive to come up again in the spring, I’ll know I’ve chosen a winner.
2. Claws break up soil regularly so it doesn’t become compacted.
No worries about compressing the soil too much while weeding. One game of bitey face will turn that soil loose in minutes.
3. The strong doggy scent in the garden means that for once, neighborhood cats won’t use it as their litter box.
Now I just have to worry about stepping in little puppy surprises.
4. I don’t have to cut back my spiderwort after blooming.
It seems that they’ve somehow all been chopped short without me and my pruner.
5. I can see that the dogwoods I planted last year have really taken root.
If not, being crashed into by 150 pounds of combined canine mischief would certainly have knocked it loose.
6. That thistle I didn’t get to remove before it got too big has no chance of surviving now.
If only dogs did as good a job with Bermuda grass, we’d be all set.
7. The slugs that were doing a job on my marigolds have moved on.
Apparently thundering paws frighten slugs away. Or they’ve trampled all the tastiest morsels.
8. The mulch that makes its way from the flower beds into my yard add some much-needed compost to my lawn.
Maybe it will be enough to plant some grass in the spring to compete with the skunk cabbage.
9. And the best reason for having dog gardening services? Once the dogs have finished their gardening, they settle in for a nice long nap.
Your Turn: Do you try to keep the dogs from playing in your garden? Or gave you given up? Any tips you can share for combining a garden with puppy play time?
Honey has made two new friends lately. Or rather, one new friend and one invisible one.
Her second new friend is a sweet and equally well socialized Boston terrier. Honey and this dog have shown no negative reactions to each other. But when the terrier invites Honey to play, my golden looks right over her head as if she doesn’t exist.
I have a few theories:
Something I read recently in Dr. Vint Virga’s The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human (an affiliate link) makes me think it’s the last one.
Dr. Virga talks about how the pack structure of wolves and their uniform appearance helps them communicate effectively with each other.
While dogs—without a formal pack structure, constrained by leashes or fences, and with all different kinds of manners and appearance—find it more challenging to understand each other. I like the way Dr. Virga described it:
…the traits we’ve chosen for each breed add a twist to how they express themselves. A boxer’s idea of wagging with glee—his full rump wiggling side to side—is different from that of an Irish setter, broadly sweeping her feathered tail. A Shelter eager to go outdoors spins in circles and barks in fits; beside her a Newfoundland licks his lips, pants, and soaks his bib with drool, while gazing longingly out the door. No wonder they look at each other befuddled and end up misreading the other’s cues. Comparably, wolves have it easy.
Dog park misunderstandings make more sense when you think of it that way, don’t they?
Years ago I read about an American who moved to Vietnam. One day, while driving through a remote village, a child ran into the road. The man barely stopped in time.
The child’s mother, who was sitting beside the road, started giggling. The man lost it and started screaming at the woman for being so callous as to giggle when her child was nearly killed. Later, when telling the story to a Vietnamese friend, the man learned that giggling is a common reaction to strong emotion in that culture.
That mother wasn’t callous. She was horrified.
When people talk to each other, our words and body language express a lot. But our communication also relies on our culture and our experiences.
Maybe when we’re talking to someone very different from ourselves, we need to slow down and listen more carefully.
That’s a lesson Honey has learned as she has matured.
Honey was one of “those puppies.” The kind who jumped right in the face of every dog she met. As a puppy, she got away with it.
But as she grew older, she needed to learn some impulse control. Our trainer helped us teach her how to respond calmly to other dogs on leash and not rush into their faces.
She’s learned how to listen carefully to a dog who is different from her. Perhaps someday she’ll even have a conversation with a Boston terrier.
Your Turn: Does your dog communicate more easily with dogs more like them? And have you found it harder to communicate with people whose experiences and culture are very different from yours?
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Honey is nondenominational. She loves everyone no matter what their religion.
But living in a country with a strong Christian tradition, it’s hard not to think of Sunday as the Sabbath even if you’re not religious.
Here’s how Honey spends her Sunday:
She sleeps in a little later than usual.
Whether you spend one day a week worshipping, playing, or spending time with family, it’s nice to devote your day to more than just work. At least that’s what Honey thinks.
Your Turn: Do you set one day in the week aside as special, whether for religious reasons or otherwise? If so, is this day different for your dog? How?