Leaving Dogs to Go on Vacation
Ah, the joys of vacation. Long walks on the beach with family, splurging on a meal out, returning to the hotel with sand glued to our butt cheeks. We rescue-dog moms love our summer vacations, don’t we?
(Insert sound of crickets chirping).
Ok dog lover. Be honest. Any time spent away from our dogs is neither relaxing nor recreational. The guilt, the worry, the heaviness in our hearts can make vacations … well, not fun, and oftentimes not worth it.
“We never go anywhere.” I’ve heard my fellow rescuers say.
And I get it. I really do.
But if you insist on staying home, you run the risk of alienating your family, disappointing your children and depriving your spouse of much-needed connection time, a spouse who has already (and loudly) declared himself a rescue-volunteer widower. Vacations are the one time we can put aside our dogs, and our rescue responsibilities (yeah, right) and give our loved ones some much-deserved undivided attention.
So why do vacations feel like such a burden?
Dogs understand an awful lot, but when their Buddha-like mindset keeps them fully engaged in the present moment, how can they understand our attempts to tell them we will be back? Do they instantly feel abandoned as they watch us pull out of the kennel driveway, or does it take a couple hours to sink in? Does it take 3 days? A week? This, by far, is the worst part of going on vacation.
No. Wait. Know what’s worse? Those of us who care for senior dogs know all too well the heart-wrenching pain associated with saying goodbye to a grey muzzle and innocent, cloudy eyes. Especially when the elderly dog happens to be in declining health. (Never mind that you have found a foster whose experience is light years beyond your own).
When my fearless terrier trembles the entire drive to the kennel, then puts his little paws on my leg when we arrive, and gives me that “pick-me-up-mommy” look, I’m ready to chuck the ludicrous idea of leaving half of my loved ones behind to spend time with an entirely different set of loved ones. Yeah, that’s definitely the worst part of going on vacation.
But know what’s really the worst? On arriving to the North Carolina shores, you see that everyone else has procured a beach house that allows dogs. In Duck, at least, there are vacationing dogs everywhere. And so I spend my vacation both missing my own sweet loves, while terrorizing those who have not left their dogs behind by squealing and begging to be introduced.
No. Wait. This is THE worst. Not letting your kennel owner have a moment of peace as you plague him with questions about how the babies are doing. Are they playing? Are they pooping? Are they being nice? Eating their vegetables?
Tom (our kennel owner) tries, God love him, to placate my worries by sending photos every day. And this is his downfall, this going above and beyond to show me they are fine.
“The Augster dodging rain drops!” Tom, the kennel owner texts.
Along with the caption is a photo of my beloved looking slightly startled. Under the photo it says, “He’s been very good.”
But, I wonder why my Augie’s eyes are so round? And why is he out in the rain?
I come up with a chirpy response, but worry for the rest of the evening. Augie is afraid of rain.
At night, I zoom in on Augie’s wuzzy face to tell my little boy sweet dreams. Then I notice something that makes me feel like I’ve swallowed a golf ball.
I text anyway.
“Tom, did something happen with the top of Augie’s head?”
It looks like he’s got a huge hank of hair missing. Did another dog scalp him? Did Liebchen, his best friend and kennel mate, get angry at him? Did he stick his head through the chain links and get it stuck?
A wretched hour passes before I get a response, and another photograph.
“I didn’t see anything on his head. Maybe the different colored fur?” Tom texts.
Tom has illuminated the top of Augie’s head with a flashlight. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with my doggie’s head.
And so it goes for two long weeks of worry and punishing our kennel owner for sending me photos meant to make me feel better.
We tried to get someone, a stranger recommended by a friend, to dog sit in our house while we would be away. Two days before departure, the sitter begs off claiming a family emergency in the next state. I am relieved not to be leaving my dogs in the care of a stranger, but angry for the short notice, and anxious that my dogs will not have the comfort of home while we are gone.
So we rely on Tom, a personal friend who has a great facility, and an excellent reputation. He is also two hours away. But I mean, if you can’t leave your dogs with a retired police detective, who can you leave them with?
And what is the alternative to not going on vacation? There is your spouse, your kids, and your extended family expecting your full participation in a vacation that took them a year to plan.
So brace yourselves family; next year I’m pulling for a dog-friendly beach house. After all, everyone else gets to bring their kids on vacation.
Next year, I will be the one fending off dogless vacationers trying to get their furry fix by chasing Augie down the boardwalk.
And I won’t be the one asking, “Honey, why don’t we ever bring our dogs on vacation?”
7/4/2018 05:29:01 am
You have nailed it on this post. Every year our three week vacation rolls in, but luckily I take my dogs. I'm pretty sure my family doesn't really like it much. They think I can't relax when they are there. But with the joy of seeing them daily also comes the burden of worry about keeping the kids away from the kennel,( one not kid friendly) and keeping them quiet, not barking at everything that moves, and keeping them happy. I wouldn't change it for the world though. Every time my husband talks about going overseas or anywhere I can't take them I start getting panicked. My daughter is good at keeping them when able so that helps but she is five hours away so our solution is to drive to her house and fly out of the airport close to her. I thought by going to Ireland last year for thirteen days would get my husbands desire to go overseas out of his system for awhile. Wrong. Not just overseas but anywhere. He has now bought a camper, which we planned for other reasons, but this is a bit bigger than we were supposed to get. His theory, we can go camping and take the dogs and blah blah blah. All I can do is think, beeson doesn't like other dogs. Neighboring camper dogs running loose and coming to greet ours and bad things happening. Though he doesn't worry about that stuff, I do. It's always the women that worry. Again, I love taking them. We had some problems for awhile about dogs being at our place in Michigan when everyone is there. As you mentioned the other family brings their kids, we bring our dogs. My sister said to me once that this is their vacation and the dogs being a problem. I said to her, when I was young coming here, I always watched the neighbors with their dogs swimming in the lake, taking boat rides, and alway invisioned this in my life when I got older. She then said, I never thought about it this way. So what one person veiws as their perfect vacation. Another views theirs differently. I spend multiple hours upon arrival setting up shop, kennels and everything needed to lessen the problem to others but then I have three weeks to enjoy knowing they are with me. They are kept in a kennel under a tree viewing the lake and all activity going on through the day and spend the nights in the camper with my husband. In between well, depends on the day. When no one home or kids are asleep, they get out to swim and sniff and enjoy what they watch the rest of us doing. It all works out but just know, with joy comes burden also. But I'm with you, I love having them with me.
SO nice to know I'm not the only one who really can't relax on vacation. It's great you have a camper and a husband who is willing to take the dogs on vacations. It is very stressful when one of the dogs does not like others, but I feel they need and deserve to get out and see new things too. I think our dogs get bored of the same old thing. They are always so excited in new surroundings! Hugs to you sister dog lover! Thank you for making my day!
7/8/2018 05:33:24 pm
We have found two different vacation homes, one at the beach, one in the mountains that allow unlimited dogs so each of the families going can take their family pets. . My dogs are getting older and boarding them is something I’m no longer comfortable doing. A vacation without my dogs seems like punishment and the anguish I feel without them, yea.......not worth it.
7/9/2018 07:26:31 pm
Lori, that is wonderful! What a great thing to know there are some property owners not afraid to let folks bring their dogs!
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