Lots of pet owners shared with me the names of their sitters after I wrote that Dog wasn’t invited on a vacation with Husband’s side of the family later this summer.
Better than the recommendations was confirmation that I’m not the only lunatic out there when it comes to worrying about the health and happiness of an animal.
A Mount Laurel reader speaks for a lot of us. She’s hired a sitter to check on her dog midday now since the commute to a new job is too far to get home at lunchtime like she used to.
“It is an added expense, but well worth the cost. Dog loves her pet sitter and vice versa. Friends and family may think we’re crazy, but so what!”
Other readers had a warning. Dogs can’t talk, they reminded me. Be sure you’re getting the care for them you’ve paid for.
“My neighbors recently hired a dog-sitting group for the two weeks or so that they are on their vacation. They asked me to come over and feed the cat and scoop the poop. No problem.
“But their canine kid was only being visited three times a day, not nearly often enough for him. Talk about a lonely pooch! So, of course, I spent extra time playing with him and/or reading while he dozed at my feet.”
Best of all was an email from a reader named Lori. She and her husband didn’t hand off a dog for vacation, but rather gained one. If her story doesn’t make you cry, check your pulse.
“For years, we have been renting the same home on Martha’s Vineyard during July in a residential neighborhood. The next-door neighbors had a black Lab that we considered our rent-a-dog.
“As we would pack for our trip each year, big boxes of dog biscuits were first on our list of items. We picture Brody coming over to the house as each new tenant arrived to see if they were friend or foe. We were definitely his friend, and he was on to us from the very first trip. Forget sleeping in. By 6 a.m., he was there with a big woof to wake us up, and we were hard-pressed to get him to go home at the end of the day. After all, he knew which side his biscuits were buttered on.
“Over the years, we watched him age, first the graying muzzle, then the difficulty climbing the deck stairs, to eventually not being able to climb them at all. Two years ago, he was very infirm and didn’t come over when we were calling him as we rounded the bend to the development.
“We walked over to his house and saw him lying under their boat; he was nearly deaf by then and hadn’t heard us calling him. A big dog biscuit barely got his attention. During the week, he would sometimes amble over, but our lively friend was a shadow of his former self.
“One day, I looked out the window and saw my husband sitting in the yard with Brody. He had his back to me and was petting our lovable friend and talking quietly to him, shoulders shaking as he cried. (I should mention here that my husband can cry at a Kmart opening if done properly, but this was indeed a Hallmark moment.) The morning we left, my husband fixed Brody one last breakfast, his favorite meal of scrambled eggs, tons of bacon, and a large biscuit on top. That was the last time we saw him; he died a few months later.
“I had a chuckle recently when I came across an old list of items for an MV trip wedged between the car seats. First on the list were dog biscuits with vodka written second. We always did have our priorities straight.”