Vacations can be sad if and when they separate pets and their owners.
The traditional procedure has been to board dogs in a kennel during vacations, but that experience can be mixed.
“Dogs with behavioral issues, separation anxiety, or who don’t like other dogs are likely to experience a lot of stress if kenneled,” says Angela Speed, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Humane Society. “Likewise, older dogs who have never experienced a kennel may not adjust well.”
Happily, new answers are appearing to the old question: “What do we do with Tippy during family trips?” The options fall into two categories: To take or not to take.
For Beth Maresh of Cedarburg, the answer is: “Take.” Her family has two well-traveled dogs.
The family is among the 29.1 million Americans who say they have traveled with a pet in the past three years, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. Canines are the most popular animal travel companions, says the association.
But pet owners can’t always take their animals along on vacation. Here are some options if you decide to leave your dog behind:
Do a pampered sleep-over
Several local dog day care centers offer extended overnight boarding with playtime perks above kenneling.
Milwaukee’s Central Bark downtown and north side locations, for instance, offer enough supervised exercise on playground equipment with other dogs to fill a six-hour day before lights out. Stays can range from overnight to three weeks.
“The main thing we’re trying to do is keep them mentally and physically exercised. We find they’re happier all around,” says Katie Wilke, Central Bark general manager.
Donnybrook Inn, located in Cedar Grove, offers themed luxury suites for dogs, including a “Harley Suite,” and a “Patriot Suite” complete with themed toddler beds and covers, and TV sets to help keep Fido relaxed and occupied. The inn is set on 80 acres of land with several dog swimming ponds. Owner Lesley-Rae Karnes is a champion dog trainer.
“There are no tears when the dog is left here,” she says. “Kids get involved in selecting which suite the dog will use, and everyone feels good.” It’s about $22 a night. Information: www.donnybrookkennel.com or (920) 668-6511.
Hire a sitter
Professional pet-sitting companies allow your dog all the comforts of home – because he is home.
“In most cases I see dogs being much calmer than when they’re kenneled. They know where their toys are, where their dish is. Their yard is just a few steps away,” says Jane Lichtenberg, founder of Critter Sitters Inc. in Glendale (www.crittersittersinc.com).
Professional pet sitters can be hired to do as many visits a day as needed (costs vary but are about $19 to $25 a visit). But be sure to plan ahead because most professionals need to meet with owners and pets ahead of time.
“Pet sitters can administer meds,” says Felicia Lembesis, executive director of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.
“They need to know what should be done in an emergency, who the vet is, what the pet’s habits are, the favorite toys. . . . Things like where there’s a circuit breaker box in case of a storm.”
Added bonus: Pet sitters can also make the house look lived in by opening and closing drapes, taking in the mail and watering the plants.
A professional pet sitter should be insured and have references. For more information on what to look for in a pet sitter, check out information from NAPPS at www.petsitters.org.