Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Preparing to panic

I publish this post with a heavy heart. My plans for a long and glorious road trip to Florida this October have died. I ask you all to take a moment of silence for them. Thank you.

My dreams of a road trip for this year have ended due to my inability to pay for such an extensive (and expensive) car trip. The idea initially sprang from my inclusion in a friends wedding; she had changed her plans from getting married locally here in New England to getting married on a cruise ship (before it departs for a week long cruise in the Caribbean) in Miami. Upon hearing the news about the change of plans (and venue) I immediately became worried: what was I going to do with my dogs while I needed to be away? They have never been kenneled, and I broke into heavy perspiration at the thought of trying to either find a reliable kennel that I trusted (and also agreed to feed their specialized raw diet, and did not require a kennel cough vaccine) or a REALLY reliable bonded and insured pet sitter. But then I started to have wild and crazy thoughts fed by my increasing wander-lust (no doubt borne from my house arrest and inability to go anywhere for 7 weeks!) I thought how fun it would be to make the DRIVE from Massachusetts to Florida; all those amazing things along the eastern seaboard. I started getting REALLY into the idea, and even put in for my 2 weeks vacation the week before (of) and the week after the wedding, so I could visit with family and actually experience some of the amazing things offered along the way.

I got even MORE into it when one day I spent the entire day on the computer researching dog friendly places in all of the states that we would cross. I made a list of everything that we wanted to see and do, and even of some places to stay. I pretty much had the whole trip planned and figured out. It not only served as something to keep my mind busy when I was still idling, but also something REALLY positive to focus on in the not too distant future. But now, alas, the plans have somewhat died. I cannot say they have completely gone because I still have all of the information that I collected saved on my computer and I DO plan on someday taking this really wonderful trip, just doesn't look like it is going to be this year. For a trip like this, you need to plan far ahead; like, I should be planning NOW. And I just do not have the funds to support those plans. Nor do I think I WILL have the funds when October rolls around. (I still have medical bills, credit card debt and a kayak debt from my mom to pay off!) So I'm trying to convince myself that I am taking the mature and responsible route, and looking into alternative options now before it gets too close to the dates and it is then too late.

So, I've decided that we'll (my mom and I) probably fly down to Florida on Thursday, stay and visit with family on Friday, do the wedding on Saturday, and fly home on Sunday. I know, it seems like I should be taking more time, but the truth is, I don't want to leave my dogs for that long. It's been hard enough leaving them at home when I went back to work, which of course, is involuntary. I can't imagine how difficult it will be to drive away from them knowing that I'm supposed to be off to have a "good time".

So, with the cancellation of my big trip and the drastic change in plans, I find myself doing research not into dog friendly places to visit and enjoy, but a raw-friendly, vaccine free kennel (read: PRISON) to leave my girls. That little sense of maturity, responsibility and preparedness has not faded away since I made the big decision. I know that I need to find somewhere that not only has the afore mentioned qualities (that ALLOW my dogs to be there), but a place that is clean, professional, staffed 24 hours and equipped to handle any situation. In short, a place that I am comfortable leaving my furry children whilst I am away; thus (hopefully) ensuring a little bit more peace of mind which will (again, hopefully) then lead to a more pleasant and fun (albeit SHORT) trip.

So, my search starts now. I have already found 2 well known, well established kennels with great reputations in my area. Yes, they are in the neighboring state of New Hampshire, but both are only about a 45 min drive from my home in Mass. I have been to both facilities before for shows, training classes and other events, but never looked hard at their boarding program. Lets face it, before now, Ive never had to! I have to say that even this early into my research, I am leaning more heavily to one facility over another. One just seems more...I dunno, is prepared a good word? Their facilities seem to be more up to date and state of the art, and I have always really liked their message and the work that the owner (a very well known clicker trainer) has done both in her facility and in the dog community as a whole. The other kennel option is also very well known, but for slightly different reasons. They have some of THE top handlers in THE WORLD when it comes to competition obedience and agility. But I know from experience (from being there for various things) that it is fairly loud; I'd want to make sure that where the girls would be staying would be a bit quieter and calmer.

This is a big issue for me, as I believe that Shelby's case of HGE (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis) was a DIRECT result of being stressed out from being in a "kennel" situation. I was house sitting for a friend of mine, who also operates a small kennel/doggie daycare out of her home. My girls were not allowed up in the main house, so I kept them down stairs with the other boarders. I wasn't able to leave them at home because the kennel was very close to work at the time, but work (and therefore the kennel) was about a 45 min. drive each way to my house. I just wasn't able to work, take care of the kennel dogs and my own in a days time. So I brought my girls along. We were there for probably 3 or 4 days(?) When I got home Shelby started with diarrhea. On the second day home it turned bloody. By the end of that day, she was producing a large mass of what looked like blood-clots (a jam-like consistency.) I took her to our regular vet (at the time) and the doctor we saw said "she must have gotten into something. Try a bland diet". I try explaining to this guy (who looked like it was his 2nd day out of vet school) that there was NO WAY that she just ate something; she is with me at work AND at home, and we have a trash compactor. Something was wrong. I ended up taking her for a "second opinion" the next morning after it had gotten worse. I took her to where I work now. This vet diagnosed her with HGE right away; she had an arrhythmia because she was so anemic and weak. She could have DIED. Needless to say, this new clinic became our new vet, and we have continued to see that same doctor since. (Although for emergencies when she is unavailable, we see who ever is here...they're all WONDERFUL).

So, needless to say I'm a little apprehensive about leaving them. Although HGE is said to have a very strong tendency to reoccur, Shelby has never had another problem. Maybe it is because she is on a better diet, maybe because I've limited her stress, but what ever the reason, I'm glad that particular scare has not come back to haunt us. So having a kennel be quiet and stress free is very high on our importance list. Just having a good reputation is not going to do it. I have to actually see and experience the kennel for myself; with my own eyes. I mean, I of course would have done regardless of whether or not either of my girls had any issues; but Shelby's potential bowel troubles have made it all the more important.

So, this is where I head on my Friday off this week; to see and inspect the two kennels for myself. I hope to have a review and our impressions (and hopefully reservations!) to let you all know about this weekend. Wish me luck, and if any one has any tranquilizers, could you pass them along? Not for the girls...for their over-bonded, nervous-nellie Sheltie Mom! Thank you!


  1. Traveling is always stressful for me as well. I just worry constantly about my babies, even when I know they are in good hands, its not the same as me being there.

    I'm actually glad to hear I'm not the only person who becomes a nervous wreck! Everyone else always says, "They're just dogs. They'll be fine." I wish it were that easy.....

  2. Your are not the only person ;o)


  3. It's never easy. I call the kennel often while I'm away, and I expect them to be able to tell me little traits about Katie so that I know they know which dog they are talking about. Lately when we've been gone I've left her at the kennel of our dog trainer. And I pay extra for him to work with her every day. That way I know he takes a good look at her every day. She seemed to like the attention as well. But I'd still rather she was with familoy!