This Christmas we have the good fortune to be returning "home" to Maine. We will have a chance to visit my sister and her husband, my parents and, especially exciting, my 92-year-old grandmother. This leaves the dogs to fend for themselves. I'm working on teaching Pistol to scoop the right amount of dog food for meals each night, but he is having trouble reaching the tap on the kitchen sink to fill up the water bowl.
Okay, we won't really leave the dogs to fend for themselves. But it does bring up a great doggy-dilemma. How do you travel when you have pets? Previously I've always had so many wonderful connections "in the business" that I've been able to have someone look after the dogs without too much trouble. But we're new to Oregon, so that puts us in the same boat as many people: what do we do with the dogs?
There are limited options, and the right solution is different for each family. Boarding is one possibility, but that takes our dogs out of their comfortable, familiar environment, and honestly, with three dogs it costs a fortune. Of course if one were looking to get the great benefit of training while boarding, a board & train program can be a great option (okay, shameless plug admitted and done with). For us the best option is a pet sitter, a professional who stays at our house and takes care of the dogs (not to mention the fish, the house plants, the mail, etc.).
But the question I always get is "How do you find a pet sitter??!!" Referrals are a great way to find any service provider - ask your veterinarian, the groomer, or, yeah, the dog trainer. But there is another way. Pet Sitters International certifies pet sitters across the country who commit to education, bonding and insuring and more. It's nice to have a resource, a searchable site, where you can find pet sitters committed to their profession. Of course, like anything, do your due diligence. Like dog trainers, certified doesn't mean a professional is good. But it's a nice place to start.