There are lots of websites filled with helpful information about easy methods to travel together with your dog. We can take our dog, Dino, on car trips, but on a month long trip to Southeast Asia that included a 40 hour air travel marathon, a 13 night cruise, and three months living in Honolulu, it just did not seem possible. As a 27 pound cockapoo, Dino is not a dog who “fits under the seat in front of you”, so even assuming everything else could possibly be arranged, I couldn’t see putting him crated in an airplane cargo hold for 16 hour trans-Pacific flights or within the holds of planes run by airlines in countries where they eat dogs.
Some of my dog loving friends just will not make a trip unless they’ll bring their dog. I totally understand how they feel. Missing Dino has had me fawning over other people’s dogs in elevators, on the street and in parks all over the world. I can pantomime “May I pet your dog?” in many languages.
Some might consider me selfish, but I need to have a dog to love and care for and that i wish to indulge my wanderlust. For individuals who find themselves in similar circumstances, this is the right way to travel without your dog:
1) Acquire a dog to love. We adopted Dino from the SPCA, but you might even be adopted by a stray dog, or buy one from a good breeder. (Some might argue there isn’t any such thing. I disagree.) Do not buy one from a pet store or a puppy mill where dogs are bred in terrible conditions.
2) Be sure your dog is socialized with other people and with other dogs. If your dog loves only you, traveling without him/her is going to be a terrible strain on both of you. In case your dog is great with people, but not so good with other dogs, it will limit your options, but they still exist.
When you have taken care of #2, then you have the following options:
You take care of our dog. We’ll take care of yours. Walking a dog is an effective way to satisfy the neighbors, especially those with dogs. Even after moving to Center City Philadelphia, we still trade dog sitting with our former neighbors in the suburbs.
Annabelle (foreground) joins the pack when she stays with us.
Have someone stay in your home with your dog while you’re away. If you recognize people with dogs (and it is hard to not if you’re taking your dog for walks in your neighborhood), chances are high they will recommend someone they hire to remain at their home and care for his or her dog once they’re away. This is the optimal arrangement in case your dog is most happy at home and doesn’t get together with other dogs. However, it is usually the most expensive option. There are also websites where you might be matched up with people looking to house sit who are animal lovers also willing to pet sit. Participants on both sides of these arrangements have usually been vetted (pun most definitely intended) and this is usually a win-win financially for everybody.
Have your dog stay with someone who boards dogs at their home. Before we knew someone with whom to trade dog sitting, that is the option we used. Through another dog owner, we found a dog loving couple with a stay at home wife who took just a few dogs at a time into their home. They’d a giant fenced in back yard and Dino was treated like a family member. This was not a reasonable option, but I would rather stay in a less fancy hotel on a visit and spend the money to know our dog was well taken care of and content.
Board your dog at a kennel or “doggie hotel”. This would not be my first choice because boarded dogs aren’t living in a really homey situation — although some higher end boarding facilities have fancy dog beds in little pet apartments that may even include a television. Usually, you pay additional fees for extra walks, play time with other dogs or extra time with a caretaker. If you board your dog at a facility where they are going to be exposed to other dogs, a rabies certificate and a bortadella vaccine for “kennel cough” are vital and doubtless required. In case your dog goes to a doggie day care, they usually also offer boarding services and this is probably the arrangement that will provide you with probably the most peace of mind because you realize the staff and your dog is accustomed to them and the surroundings.
Totally luck out like we did and have dog loving relatives who even have a dog and who’re willing to take care of and love your dog for four months while you’re away!
Dino and his dog cousin, Izzy, prefer to trade beds.
If you discover the right situation in your dog, you’ll still miss them, but you’ll know they’re happy and well cared for while you’re away.
My favorite blog about traveling along with your dog: Montecristo Travels (Montecristo is a 3.5 pound long-haired chihuahua who has travels extensively in Europe and North America along with his people.)
Housesitting websites: These websites were recommended by Boomer Travel Bloggers who’ve done housesits that also involved caring for pets: Mind My House; Trusted House Sitters
Dog Home Stays: Dog Vacay has good references and provides contacts for boarding your dog in homes in your area. I’ve never used them, but I’d consider trying them if the need arose.