We don’t travel a lot but when we do Kirby always goes with us. The same will go for Kenzie. We like sharing our time with our dogs! However, there are those times they just cannot go with us which can cause a dilemma.
Recently Doug and I planned a weekend visit with our grandchildren in Louisiana. Steel was turning three while Teagan had just turned one. Their mom, our daughter, doesn’t really care for animals in the house. We knew Kirby would behave and is very gentle with small children but Kenzie was another matter altogether. She isn’t completely house trained (strike one), she’s much too rambunctious for small children (strike two) and being a puppy, she still likes to jump and nip (strike three).
Finding A Facility
In the past Kirby has stayed at PetSmart Hotel so that was my first call. From there I called every boarding facility along the route from Mississippi to Louisiana. Each one said they would not accept our dogs. The only reason? We don’t do the Bordatella vaccine. I explained the dangers of the vaccine, I gave them data showing dogs vaccinated were the ones who caught the cough, I said I would sign a waiver, I even said they could keep my dogs separated from the others. I finally relented, scheduled the weekend with PetSmart Hotel, and planned to get both dogs vaccinated before the weekend. That was Tuesday night.
Turning To Rover and DogVacay
Wednesday morning I just didn’t feel good about my decision so I considered a sitter coming to my home. Then I turned to Rover and DogVacay. These companies provide sitters who go through a rigorous approval process including background checks and each reservation includes 24/7 customer support, daily photo updates, and premium pet insurance. The choices include your dog staying overnight in the sitter's home, the sitter staying overnight in your home or checking on your pet during the day, 30-minute walks, and/or Doggy Day Care. All you need to do is fill in the information to find a sitter in the area you need, read the detailed reviews and star ratings from customers to find the perfect match. You can even become a sitter if you feel that calling.
Both had sitters along our route so I applied on each site. Within hours I received texts from several sitters. My first contact just didn’t feel right after numerous texts so I passed. The next contact was Julie from Rover. We texted back and forth, then set a time to talk the next day. After our lengthy phone conversation, I felt this was the way to go. I cancelled PetSmart Hotel and booked a reservation with her. Everything is done through Rover so I didn’t have her last name or address until my booking was finalized.
The Weekend Visit
Saturday morning we dropped off Kirby and Kenzie with Miss Julie who already had all of my instructions and information. Julie, her husband, and two young sons were waiting for us in their front yard as we pulled up. We made the transition quick since Kirby was becoming quite agitated. Driving away I did have some sudden apprehension. I don’t know these people, I didn’t see the fenced backyard, I didn’t even see the inside of the house. I’m a worrier so really bad thoughts sprang into my head! Doug, the calmer one, just kept driving.
We had a wonderful visit with our grands even though we didn’t see Kirby or Kenzie until we picked them up Sunday evening. I knew Kirby cried quite a bit when we first left but then settled down. I knew Kirby was not very playful preferring to stay close to one of the humans. I knew Kenzie played with their lab puppy quite a bit. I knew they took several walks throughout both days. I knew they both ate all of their dinner. I knew they followed Miss Julie every step she took. I knew Kenzie chose to sleep in a kennel in Julie’s bedroom while Kirby preferred to sleep in the living room with the boys and their dad. No, I'm not a psychic. I knew all of this because Julie sent me texts and pictures throughout the weekend. I don't think I could have relaxed if she hadn't.
Kenzie is still a puppy so Kirby was the one I worried about since he has shown separation anxiety when we have left him with family for just a few hours. They’ve always told me he stays with my belongings in the bedroom we are using until I return. Seeing pictures of him Julie sent, I could tell he was not shutting down but was slowly adjusting to the situation. He holds his ears back when he is upset or uncomfortable. Slowly I was seeing him relax, he even did his meerkat trick for Julie which was a very good sign. Best of all I saw him sleeping stretched out on his side.
The Happy Reunion
When we returned we knocked on the door and one of the boys let us in. I’m not sure where Kenzie was but I immediately saw Kirby in Julie’s lap. Both dogs were very happy to see us with lots of kisses and wagging tails. As we talked and gathered their belongings I could easily tell both dogs were completely at ease in their surroundings. What pleased me the most was when we were in the front yard letting them potty before the ride home. Kirby never once tugged to get to the car. Instead he sniffed around perfectly content.
On the way home he got as close to me as possible while being strapped in his car seat not taking his eyes off me until he finally fell asleep with that deep sigh letting me know all was right. Both dogs slept the entire way home and were their normal selves once home - no whining or clinging.
Finding a place to board our dogs can be daunting to say the least. Finding a place that accepts and understands how we are raising our dogs is even more daunting but it can be done. Any time we will be travelling in that direction Miss Julie will be the one we call. If we need a sitter in another direction? Rover will be where I turn to for someone. We may even utilize her day care when we want to do a little shopping in Jackson. I highly recommend Rover sitters and applaud those who who keep pets in their homes. I have a feeling they may give boarding businesses a run for their money in the near future.
HAVE YOU TRIED A HOME SITTER? WHAT WERE YOUR EXPERIENCES?