I’m really looking forward to a summer getaway, but am worried about Hanover, our mixed breed “guilt hound,” who can’t come with us. She was a shelter dog, so I worry about boarding her in case she suffers flashbacks. But what if I hire a pet sitter who, it turns out, is a Satanist looking for a sacrifice? Whatever I do, Hanover’s going to give me “the look” – Where do dogs learn that? – which says that somehow I’ve let her down? Again! Maybe instead of traveling we should just stick with another stay-cation, and movie marathon-cation, and tub-of- Ben-&-Jerry’s…cation. Any advice would be appreciated?
Hoping to get the Hell out of Dodge, Janelle, Chicago
Separation from their dogs can be a very emotional issue for Giants. The best approach is first to ask yourself, “Just how many Satanists live in the neighborhood?”
For me, I suspect two, those Giants who own the black dog with the pointy ears who pees – and I’ve witnessed this! – on my hydrangea shrubs. Tell me that isn’t the act of Lucifer’s hellhound.
Next, spare yourself anxiety over boarding or sitting Hanover. Dogs rarely pine away when their Giants leave. Five minutes after you walk out the door, we usually forget who you are. Tests conducted by scientists at a prestigious Giant university proved this. Seventy percent of dogs surveyed immediately forgot their owners. The other 30 percent forgot to show up for the test.
The point is we’ll be fine without you, and eager to greet you as friendly strangers when you return. Meanwhile, here are a few tips to smooth the transition:
We’re not stupid! We know what suitcases mean.
Look, Giants, cunning isn’t your long suit. So don’t waste time hiding suitcases in The Ever-closed Spare Room, then sneaking in piles of clothes. Dogs know when something’s going on. Just like we know that ʻWhoʼ wants to go for a ʻRideʼ in the ʻCar?ʼ means a visit to the Giant Vet to get something stuck in us.
Instead, be frank with your dog. Explain that you’re going on a trip, probably won’t return, so the pantry is his. He won’t be upset because he’ll forget in minutes.
What exactly do you mean by “kennel”?
Like most dogs, I’ve no problem being boarded at a kennel provided it’s on my Giants’ bed.
However, due to zoning restrictions kennels are rarely so conveniently located. Some are quite far away, out in the country. Possibly near that farm where a heavily sedated Roxy the Boxer was taken after the unfortunate “playground incident.” He must have enjoyed it there since he never returned.
Kennels vary widely in the amenities they offer. Giants should carefully research the facilities for the following before booking a cell:
• No bullwhips
• Convenient shopping, nightlife, a tree
• Onsite dining; can opener
• Smelly stuff; spa
Leave detailed care instructions on how to work my food bowl.
Preferable to a kennel is to hire an in-house dog sitter well known to your canine and, ideally, bacon-flavored.
Yet despite your best efforts to put in place a person so familiar that they know how to work your TV remote, the key to success is trust between sitter and dog:
GIANT SITTER: “Hey, girl! Who wants to go walkies? Do you want walkies? Who wants walkies?”
CANINE: “I assume you’re licensed and professionally bonded?”
GIANT SITTER: “Oh, you’re a shy girl!”
CANINE: “Let’s just take it slow, OK? Now, you’ve credentials?”
GIANT SITTER: “We’ll go play in the park! Where’s your ball? Go get your ball!”
CANINE: “Ex-CUSE me! The ball does not go to the park. That’s a rule put in place by…by…you know, that nice couple who left here a few minutes ago. I forget their names….”
GIANT SITTER: “C’mon, sweetie! I know you’ve gotta go.”
CANINE: “I can hold it. Or pee in your slippers.”
GIANT SITTER: “You can have treats—ˮ
CANINE: “Not hungry.”
GIANT SITTER: “And scratchies—”
CANINE: “Not itchy.”
GIANT SITTER: “And Netflix!”
CANINE: “Hurry up! Westworld starts in an hour!”