In an ideal world our pets would go where we go. For many of us they are just as much a part of the family as Aunt Mabel, more so
But the fact is that because they have fur, walk on four legs or even just communicate differently they either can’t or shouldn’t come everywhere with us. The first category, “can’t come” is fairly obvious. International travel, type of vacation, business or pleasure, cruises, style of accommodation etc. can actually prohibit, actually disallow your pet from coming.
The second category of “shouldn’t come” with, does require a little selflessness. We need to remember it’s not that we are leaving them behind but rather ” not subjecting them to”.
We at the Royal Pet Hotel are firm believers that pets will be perfectly fine flying in commercial airliners. But that quite frankly is when they are doing so to join and remain with their family in their new home. If your pet cannot travel in the main cabin with you then we don’t recommend subjecting them to air travel for anything less than a long term job posting or permanent move.. You can’t explain why they are feeling the way they are. Once arriving at your destination, what will your dog do. If your vacation / time away, entails anything other than nature walks and field, yard or beach play with your dog – what will they be doing while you golf, shop, site see, dine or take that adventure tour ?
So now you’ve made the selfless decision to not bring Fido with you while you go away. In theory the ideal situation is for someone to step into your shoes while you go away. Someone moves in and becomes you. Sounds great doesn’t it ? Let’s first look at how it can feel to your dog, and then the reality of the business of pet sitting.
First, dogs are pack animals who are also territorial. You and your family are their pack, and your house and property, even car, are their territory. When you leave for work, shopping etc. they are being left in charge. Some dogs are quite relaxed about this, others are a bit more nervous of the responsibility. Some are so worried about being alone they will try and create a scent barrier to remind anyone who might come while you are gone – that they belong to a pack and aren’t actually alone. They’ll take items that smell like the other members of the pack and scatter them around so anyone else who approaches will smell all the different members. If necessary they divide the items they find into pieces so they can spread it around even more. Is your dog so relaxed they don’t even bark when someone comes to the door ? Bet they do when you aren’t home. Someone living there while you’re away stands a greater chance of bonding with your dog. They come home every night and spend their evenings with your dog. Of course it may be risky for them to get in and out of your house, what if your dog gets out to look for you ? What if they don’t come back to the “new” person calling them ? What if every night is spent trying to get past your dogs newly developed “guard dog persona” ? What if they are confused about their new family and why it isn’t you coming through the door? Will they accept the food from a stranger ?
Most pet sitting businesses are not providing a live-in caretaker. They provide visits. Imagine once again your dogs reaction to one 1/2 hr or two 10-15 minute visits a day ? Someone arrives at their territory while their pack is away. Allows them outside for a toilet break, or quickly leashes them to visit the toilet, then changes their water and food. Most people need at least a minimum wage to live and if they can survive with less, second job or Primary care giving parent earning a little extra money, then they expect the reduced hours to be at least minimum wage. A full work day at minimum wage is approximately $100 a day. But wait, car, car insurance and gas to get there averaged out over the work year @$35/day. How did they attract your business ? Advertising, web site, agency ? The two largest insured referral pet sitting agencies take 25-30% minimum. Suddenly the $35/day you are paying them is actually $25. Realistically to make at least minimum wage they need 6 clients a day plus how many do they need to visit or be interviewed by to set up future business ? 6 houses a day, travel time back and forth and the only way to improve ones financial position is to squeeze more clients in each day. Realistically it’s not more than minutes of time with each pet !
Professional pet care facilities offer the same benefits of people hotels that specialize in SERVICE. Safe and comfortable Bedrooms and many with en suite outdoor porches. Play parks and walking trails all safely maintained and right there for your pets enjoyment.
All the travel time is now time spent with your pet. Your pet isn’t looking for you all the time because the different surroundings don’t lend them to thoughts of where did you go or watching for when you will come back. Therefore no lost time getting past the defenses. There are activities to participate in and/or watch all day long. The routine is the same and predictable every day providing comfort and stability to your dog. Teams of caregivers with expertise and resources at hand to handle any situation. As a team and a business there are provisions in place for coverage due to staff absence, car troubles……
Pet Sitting is often the same daily price if not more expensive than even your most luxury pet care facility. Do your research, ask other pet parents who have similar sensibilities towards their pets as you and talk to your Vet, whether it’s an in house pet sitter or a full fledged pet resort make sure the choice “fits” your family.
….Jenn Dahinten is part of the pet care team at The Royal Pets Hotel and Spa