My fiance and I are planning a two-week trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon, and we're really concerned about what to do with our beloved dog. We've never been away from him for that much time before, and our trip's too lengthy for us to just ask a friend to dog-sit -- what should we look for to find a place where we won't be worried sick about him?
One of the best things to come out of our country's total love affair with all things four-legged (and its not doggie yoga or designer puppywear) is that now, no matter where you live, there's no reason you have to submit your pooch to whimpering in a tiny crate while you're away. Dog "spas" and upscale kennels are multiplying like Starbucks, and now nearly every 'burg boasts a cageless dog and cat retreat.
What to look for in a home away from home? Cage-free boarding during the day is great, but your pet will probably want his own place to sleep. Look for a kennel that offers private pens or "rooms" -- some even have suites with amenities including televisions and piped-in classical music to lull Rover to sleep (we're not kidding). Also, you may be able to provide your own bedding, or even a well-worn piece of your clothing -- the familiar scents are sure to comfort and soothe the savage beast. Ask about the amount of playtime, outdoor time, and walking your pup will receive. Most kennels include a set amount of attention in the cost of boarding, and you can usually pay a per-diem fee for additional time -- it all depends what your pet is used to.
Before committing to any one place, ask if you can visit with your dog to see how things go and make sure you've found the right spot. You can either join in the play during the day, or send Fido for a trial night (many kennels require this kind of visit for new customers anyway). Be sure to let them know if your dog has any special needs or medication he has to be given. You may also have to provide food or treats -- send these along in baggies that each contain a single serving to make sure the grub is consistent with the way you feed him. Lastly, if your pup is especially small or is getting on in years, fear not -- most cageless kennels maintain separate play areas for the little guys, so you won't have to worry about your Pekingese getting creamed by a Lab. All in all, with a little research you should be able to provide your pet with a pleasant experience.