3 options for Fido care when you can’t be there

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The holidays are approaching, and that means long hours of shopping, parties, holiday events and even travel — all of which take you away from home for longer periods of time than usual.  Some pet parents are lucky enough to be able to have a pup who participates in all kinds of activities; others, like us, don’t have that luxury.  What’s a pet parent to do?

Here are some options that won’t break your heart, or your wallet:

  1. A family member stays home.  In our household, this is generally the best option.  But that’s only because the two humans in our family work and live together!  To be honest it’s nice to have the house to oneself and get a break from the other guy.  Bonus:  he or she who stays home gets to hog all the cuddle time with the pets.   
  2. Ask a friend, neighbor or family member who already knows your dogs to check in on them if you’re gone more than, say, 4 or 5 hours.  The basic rule here would be if we’re going to be gone longer than we are on a normal day, then we usually have somebody come by, let the hounds out into the yard to relieve themselves, toss a ball or take them for a leashed walk (if you trust the person to do so — remember this involves opening and closing doors and gates, attaching a leash, and going out into the world, usually in the dark — only accept such an offer from someone you are confident can handle the task).  The visiting caregiver would also be sure to give them a little bit of food, fill up the water bowl, and hang out with the pup(s) for a few more minutes.  Once they are calm, he or she can be on their way knowing you’ll be home a few hours later.  Bonus:  activity on the property is always a good thing.
  3. Pay a token fee to someone you are not comfortable asking to do the task for free: i.e., someone who already works for you, or a younger relative who could use the money and has extra energy to spare.  As above, make sure it’s someone your dogs know already. We are fortunate to have an employee who doubles as our pet sitter.  She loves our pets as much as we do, and that, my friends, equals peace of mind.  Bonus: She gets a little extra dough for the holidays and the animals get lotsa lovin’ in our absence.  Can’t afford a meaningful-enough amount of money? Offer to barter your own talents in return, return the favor, or give a gift card instead!

We all hate leaving Fluffy at home alone, even during a normal work day, but sometimes we humans either have too much to do, or have obligatory commitments that make it impossible to always include the beloved pooch.  These are just a few ideas to make the separation anxiety (ours, not the pets’!) a little easier to handle.  Be creative, come up with some of your own and enjoy the holiday rush with less stress.

K.S. Mueller is a travel executive living in Massachusetts who writes essays about dogs, cats and other topics in her spare time. Check out her web sites: ksmueller.comk2k9.com; and fibroworks.com. Follow K.S.Mueller on Facebook and Twitter.

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