As summer draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about the number of conversations I had over the last few months with clients about options for their dog(s) when they go out of town.
And I’ve been frustrated by the number of judgmental comments that have come with those discussions (either with clients or seen online from others). There are folks who cannot believe owners would choose to leave their dogs in a boarding facility and typically refer to it as “doggie jail.” There are others who cannot believe an owner would trust a stranger to come into their home while they are away to care for their dog. And there are others still who cannot believe anyone pays for either service and believe instead that dogs should be left with close friends/family.
So what’s best? Boarding facility, pet sitter, family friend?
In my opinion, CARED FOR IS BEST.
What does that mean? It means that what’s best for me and my dog might not be what’s best for you and your dog. Here are some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of each option:
> Boarding Facility: In North Carolina, boarding facilities must be inspected/licensed by the state to legally provide overnight boarding or daycare. This should give owners confidence in the cleanliness and proper/sturdy construction of their animals’ living quarters. Boarding facilities also very often provide supervised social/play time for your dog, which can be a great enrichment while you are away.
> Pet Sitter: Hiring a pet sitter allows your dog to stay at home in its own environment, which may be much preferred by some dogs (especially those who may be shy or older). It would also be assumed that a good pet sitter would be able to give your dog good one-on-one attention.
> Family/Friends: Asking someone close to you to watch your dog can be a lot of fun and usually much cheaper. This allows your dog to stay with someone it is hopefully comfortable with and who may know its habits well. As a bonus, they usually don’t charge as much (if anything) compared to a pet sitter or boarding facility.
> Boarding Facility: Depending on the facility, boarding kennels can be somewhat loud and chaotic places with a lot of dogs and limited staff.
> Pet Sitter: Allowing a stranger into your home may make you feel uncomfortable and it may be hard to be sure that your pet is receiving the type of care and attention you desired.
> Family/Friends: Let’s be honest, sometimes family and friends who are doing you a favor for free don’t put in the same time and care you might appreciate.
I’ve used all three of these options at some point, depending on my circumstances at the time. And thankfully, I’ve had almost all wonderful experiences.
At the moment, I choose to leave my dogs at a boarding facility – and my dogs LOVE IT. The facility is inspected/licensed, the people are great, and my dogs get to play four times a day with other dogs while I’m away. While Tucker could likely be adequately cared for by a small child, Ellie the Warrior Princess requires a little bit more expertise and focus. A well run boarding facility, with secure housing, supervised play time, and an employee who will play ball with her, is exactly what she needs to be well cared for and happy.
So please, unless you see a situation that is going to be unsafe for the animal, hold the judgment. Making sure your dog is well cared for while you’re away is the goal. How you choose to do that is up to you.
***A word on boarding facilities or pet sitters who keep animals at their own homes.***
Both must be inspected/licensed by the state to be legal! (Pet Sitters keeping animals in their own homes are actually considered kennels/boarding facilities.) There are A LOT of folks who are knowingly, or unknowingly, breaking the law in Watauga and the surrounding counties. Spoiler alert – there are only 5 stand alone kennels in Watauga County who are legally licensed to board (vet clinics with attached boarding are licensed differently). As of a search on 8/9/19, in alphabetical order, the licensed facilities are: Fetching Ridge Pet Hotel and Spa, Happy Paws Dog Den, Mountain Mamma’s Bed and Biscuit, Pet Prairie Dog Retreat, and Woof Pack Pet Services.
Here’s a link where you can check your own NC county for licensed facilities and view their inspection reports. Click here.