Kelly's Dog Blog — Pet Hotels vs. Dog Sitters

Why I choose to board my dogs when on vacation

February 10, 2019

“Have you ever considered a dog sitter?,” is the knee-jerk question I get from well-meaning folks when I tell them that my husband Chuck and I always need to incorporate dog-boarding fees into our vacation budgets.

Of course we have considered it, but Chuck has always surmised that more can go wrong when someone is dog sitting for you than not. 

A good example is the day Chuck was out in the yard and an unattended small dog walked right up to him. Chuck picked him up and immediately searched the dog’s collar for identification. There were two phone numbers, so he called both and left messages. Within minutes a young woman came running down the street, her head swiveling frantically in all directions, until she spotted Chuck and the dog.

“Oh, thank God,” she cried, barely able to catch her breath. Before my husband could say anything, the young woman exclaimed, “I’m housesitting for some friends and he got out the door. They’re vacationing in Europe…,” her voice trailed as she expressed tears of relief. 

Chuck then had to tell her the news that the owners of the dog had been notified, so the young woman should expect a call very soon. Relief cancelling out any fear of repercussion for her carelessness, she nodded and thanked us. I gave her an empathetic hug, and she was on her way, the dog cuddled snuggly in her arms. 

Our house is quirky — as are the dogs and people who live in it. There is a lot going on: a front door that needs jiggling before you can properly lock it, a water heater that seems to have a mind of its own, inoperable gas fireplaces, a fountain that needs to be filled or the motor may burn out. Our freezer has an ice machine that does not work, so we dump grocery-bought ice in it. The list goes on from there.

We have four dogs, each with distinctive personalities. Some get more walks than others, while the rest do their business in the backyard. Oh, yeah, then there is the backyard; more like a dog run, it is enclosed with a 6-foot fence, but there is still the possibility of a homeless person or worse yet, a coyote leaping over.

We are very in tune with everything about our home and its limitations, because we live there. It would take a dog sitter three weeks to figure out all the oddities, while still making the care and well-being of our dogs her/his utmost priority. 

Something else to consider is if the dog sitter decides to have a few friends over. Can we trust that those friends will use common sense and not leave the front door and the front gate open at the same time? All kinds of scenarios can result in something terrible happening to our pets.

It’s just too much. 

So, for our own peace of mind, we spend a small fortune boarding our dogs, and have found over the years for it to be worth every penny. The place we board them has a large play yard, plenty of employees to meet their needs, a round-the-clock veterinarian on the premises and they get three meals a day. Another service our boarding facility provides is posting photos of all the dogs playing and interacting with other dog guests throughout the day. Sitting down to peruse these photos at the end of a busy day of vacationing is a great way to wrap up.

But it’s a personal choice just the same. If a dog owner has someone they can trust 100% to dog sit, they will certainly save money, and also have the benefit of having their house look lived in while they’re on vacation. All in all, it is the pet’s care and well-being that should be top priority no matter what the choice.