INGENUITY: PLANNING A TRIP WITH THREE DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday – INGENUITY

We have been blessed with the opportunity to take a real vacation — relatively locally but in a rich and wonderful part of the country.

I have always loved Pennsylvania, especially this area — the foothills of the Poconos.  It would be a real joy to get to know these people personally, too. Online is lovely … but person-to-person can’t is the best.

Garry and I really need a time out. It has been more than three years since the last time we were away for more than a day or two.

The problem is dogs.

We have three. That we have three makes little difference because really, the problem is our two Scottish Terriers, both of whom are now 13 and beginning to show their years. They are small, so they don’t age as fast as bigger dogs, but Bonnie’s eyesight is diminishing and Gibbs is getting a bit deaf. He used to come running for treats as soon as he heard the lid lifted from the treat box. Now, he falls into a sleep so deep it takes several loud calls for him to first wake up and then to realize he’s being called and why.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Duke and Gibbs

Gibbs isn’t the problem. Neither is wacko Duke. Yelling a little louder is not a big deal and Duke has calmed down to a point where while he’s a bit too crazy to take visiting, he’s good around the house. And he’s clean. He has never made a mess in the house from the day we got him.

Bonnie and Gibbs are a different story. Because both of them were trained to go out whenever they wanted to via the doggy door, they don’t tell you when they need to go out. They simply go. They don’t give us any indication of what they want. They are self-trained — which is fine in this house but not so fine in other people’s houses.

Gibbs

We have been trying to find some ingenious way to get Bonnie’s eyes properly taken care of while we are away. Owen will always make sure they are fed, spend at least an hour or so with them to keep them for getting too lonesome … and manage to squeeze two visits a day into their lives (and do Bonnie’s eyes while he is there). This is quite a trick considering he works a lot of hours.

We had been thinking about just taking Bonnie with us. That way, we’d know her eyes were getting the care they need. But if we take her with us, she will have me or Garry up by dawn. She requires an early morning cookie and a trip outside. Then she’ll have me up a couple of hours later again.

She is nearly blind, we would have to keep her on a lead — which she does NOT like because unlike home, she can’t feel her way around the house. In her mind, she has never lived anywhere else. From 9 weeks to thirteen years is a complete life for a dog. She knows every inch of the house, where all the furniture is, even where the step stool she uses to get up on the sofa stands.

In another house, she would need to find everything for the first time. Since she has always felt that leashes were something for Other Dogs, she is unlikely to take kindly to being led around.

First I figured we would take her with us. Now I’m rethinking it. If we are going to get any rest and relaxation, taking her will make that impossible.

Not taking her is also worrisome.

I’ve been trying to figure out some ingenious way of making this work for her and us. I’m coming up empty.

Taking her with us will guarantee her eyes are tended to properly and frequently, but it will enormously limit our freedom. Talk about a rock and a hard place. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t

The only place we could board her — assuming we could afford to do that at all — would be the veterinarian because her eyes need care. Owen will do the best he can, but he does work a full week and there’s only so much we can expect from him.

So here’s where I ask for ideas. No “dog walking” service in Uxbridge and Kaity is finally attending college — a commuter school — so she already has her hands full.

If Bonnie’s eyes were only cleaned and lubricated twice a day instead of three times a day for a week, would that be catastrophic? I know none of the dogs like when we are away, but much as I love them. sometimes we need to be elsewhere and this is one of those times.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m not sure there is a right answer, but if anyone has a creative thought, I’m listening!

25 thoughts on “INGENUITY: PLANNING A TRIP WITH THREE DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I feel your pain- when our 2 got too old for us to go anywhere my best friend came and stayed at the house(leaving her husband home) and took care of them. Was a blessing.

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    • My son was going to do it, but he has a whole CPAP setup at home and it got a bit complicated to bring all his equipment, so he will have to settle for a few hours here. Fortunately, he only lives a few miles away and he said we’d better go because this might be our last chance. By next year, they will both be 14 … Even for a small dog, that’s getting up there.

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  2. Aaah, I so wish I could be of any help. But you state in a very convincing way all the reasons I can’t have a dog (and I’m talking about one, not several) now. Being away much of the time, not able to look properly after my pet, not having anybody nearby to take over when there is a need…. But I have given it some thought and based on my experiences with pets, I’d think that your baby is best at home. If for this week the eye drops won’t be as regularly given as usual, that is. You can’t be perfect for everybody at all times. And you need a holiday too. And it’s very good of Owen to look after your ‘kids’. Other question, which you surely already have discussed: Could he take your teary-eyed beauty with him once or twice and thus be able to give the drops?
    Cats are easier that way – that’s true. But they never make up the joys and qualities of dogs.
    I worry myself silly right now because we have temps in the 40°C+ and I’m not at home to air the place daily, and properly, I won’t be there to give plenty of water to all my hundreds of pots, plants, shrubs and trees and I’ll only return on Monday night. I have a lodger who lives with us for free (another silly story of mine), but she’s a teacher and goes to her sister after work on Friday until Sunday late night….. Why do we create for ourselves situations we cannot well handle later on? But then, did I know that 12yrs later, HH would once more work in Switzerland, a mere 7hours by car and 700km from where we bought our house? A house we can’t seem to sell at a decent price and in which ALL our funds from forever have been sunk in?!
    I do wish you find the best solution and can then enjoy a week of hols. Everybody needs them! Take care, both and all of you.

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  3. It is a common problem and most solutions that people have offered are ones that I’ve thought of as well but you need money. Boarding costs money, a pet sitter in your home costs money plus if you are like me you are not sure you really want a stranger in your house. Taking the pet with you presents a whole different set of problems especially for an elderly pet with health issues. I think Owen doing the best he can is probably the best you can do. He knows the dogs and their issues and two eye cleans a day will probably be OK for a short time. I know I go through this every time I go anywhere now, worrying about whether Cindy and Polly will be OK. I usually leave Polly at home with someone coming daily to feed her but as she doesn’t like strangers this is pretty stressful for her. I think that Naomi and I will probably end up taking separate trips so someone is always home for the animals. Once you’ve made your arrangements just go and try to have a good time and not worry about the dogs. You hardly ever get to have a break and you need it.

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  4. I sympathise, Marilyn. We have three dogs too, one with two chronic health issues. If my grown up children had moved out we would not be able to travel at all. You could try a pet-sitter (if such a person exists in your part of the world). They live in your home and care for your animals while you are away. Cost big $$$ though, which is understandable because everyone has to make a living.

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  5. With our old, almost blind dog and a cat that throws up if he eats too much and, therefore, must be fed small portions every 20-30 minutes throughout the day, my wife and I split our time away from home these days. If she goes away for a long weekend getaway, I stay home with our “kids.” And Vice versa. I know that’s not any help. Sorry.

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    • Mostly what I’m finding out that this is a very common problem and not one easily solved. I think we’d better get away now because I think in another year, we won’t be able to go. Worse, I can’t even imagine a life without pets, but I think that’s where we are heading. The price of even adopting a dog is higher than buying from a pet shop or an ad in the newspaper. And there are no senior discounts for dogs or people!

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  6. We only have one cat but he has made vacations much more stressful. We’ve taken him to the vet/animal hotel and left him home to be tended to by Family members. We sleep better when he’s at the vet but that can be an expensive. We can’t take along cause he’s semi-feral and will take off. Good luck – I hope you find a way.

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    • I think that ultimately, we’ll have just The Duke and he will be the last of them. It’s simply getting too expensive to manage the vet visits and medications and even going away for just a couple of days is a bit nerve-wracking. But that’s years away — I hope.

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  7. Your dogs are beautiful, Marilyn! And very photogenic. I understand your dilemma completely, as we’re having similar worries about our cats, Beowulf and Grendel, when we go to North Wales for my castle wander next month. They’re going to have to be in – albeit a nice – cattery for three weeks but they’re troublesome wanderers themselves, so I worry that they’ll be alright. I’m sure they’ll be fine, and at least they’ll be looked after very well and at least they’ll be safe. I guess if Bonnie’s eyes need regular care the vet is the best bet as I’m not sure what services you have over there. I don’t suppose you have boarding kennels like we have over here, do you? The cat equivalent of which these is what ours are going into? If there is such a thing they’re usually used to dispensing medicine and routine medical care – we used to have a diabetic cat and they injected her twice a day. Just a thought. Otherwise, could you take her with you and find a local service where you’re going to afford you some more freedom? Either way, I hope you enjoy your holiday. 🙂

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    • We have one “good” boarding kennel. I think it costs more to board our dogs than it would to put us up in a motel. I suspect we will leave her home. It’s not just because she would bring our work with us, but because she is very comfortable here and being nearly blind, is uncomfortable everywhere else. Dogs grow old. One day they are at the peak of their youth and you turn around and they are old. If we had a lot of money, we could solve the problem. We don’t have the money.

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      • It does seem kinder to leave her home and have whatever help you can have to come in. It is so very disruptive to animals to be taken someplace, and she might think you are taking her away for good or something else that can precipitate a health crisis–no vet student or worker at the vet’s might be willing to come in more on the side for money…? Good luck with it.

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              • It’s all about the food for our cats–every minute is a good time to eat. If no food happens, then it’s a good time to sleep or play. I did read somewhere long ago that cats get into the habit of expecting the people to come back within a certain time frame, if they go to work or go away for a few days regularly etc., and that at a certain point, they give up and believe that you have been eaten by predators. There have been times when I have come back from a trip and the cats whom I lived with for years have stared at me bleakly, as if saying not to toy with their emotions, since they recently lost someone who looked just like me–and the fact that returning people smell like the soaps and animals etc. of far away can confuse them too maybe–

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      • I know that feeling. Bless her, they are indeed a worry. It’s a wonder anyone can afford to board their animals if it’s that expensive. It’ll be bad enough for us here for three weeks, but to be honest, both cats are such wanderers and adventurers it’ll be worth it for the peace of mind. I hope you manage to sort something out for her, and I hope you have a lovely holiday too. It’ll do you good. 🙂

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