I recently touched on how stressful it can be to prepare for a family vacation. While visiting my local Coinstar machine to cash in for a Starbucks Gift Card is certainly a fun item to check off my to-do list, there’s definitely one thing that has always caused a knot in my stomach. That one thing is the uneasiness I feel (and probably a bit of guilt) at having to leave our dog Socks. In the past he’s had our sweet girl Jenna to keep him company as they were both usually cared for here in our home when we traveled as a family, but Jenna died last year so Socks is our only pet right now. Unfortunately we don’t have someone to take care of him here in our home this year, so a few months ago I started to research boarding options in our area. Not only has he hardly ever been boarded, but he’ll also be alone so I wanted to do a quality search and hopefully ease my mind while also finding someone who would take really great care of our 4-legged family member.
Hopefully some of the steps I took will help someone else who wants or needs to board their pet, but is feeling just as anxious about it as I am. Here are my best tips when searching for a boarding kennel for your beloved pet.
- Search, search, search! I’ve always loved the internet and this has been one of those times it came in really handy. I was quickly able to find a kennel not too far from our home that has a professional website and not only includes several photos of the property, but also a few helpful reviews from others who have boarded a pet at the facility.
- Contact the kennel directly either by phone or email. I did both so that I could explain our situation and share a little bit about Socks while also getting a feeling about the people who might be caring for my pet. Fortunately, I got the response I was hoping for, which was an owner who was not only sensitive to his needs but also willing to offer me advice to make it as easy on all of us as possible.
- Visit the boarding kennel. By this I mean drive to the location and ask to see where your dog will actually be kenneled. A reputable place should not turn down this request because if they do it’s a big red flag in my book.
- Do a trial run. We are going on vacation for over a week, which means Socks’s stay at the kennel will be just as long, so rather than just drop him off at a new place the day before we leave, I decided to take him for a couple of shorter stays a couple weeks apart before we leave. I can’t tell you how much this decision has eased some of my anxiety. The first visit was for one night and the second was for two nights. Both times the staff and kennel owner said he did a great job and even though he was definitely happy to see me when I picked him up after each stay, I could also tell he didn’t seem too stressed. Huge relief.
- Find a kennel that offers opportunities for your dog to exercise. Imagining my dog in a small cage for over a week is heartbreaking, so knowing he can get outside regularly offers me definite peace of mind. The first thing that drew me to this particular kennel was a photo on the website of the HUGE fenced in play yard on the property. Even better was that I learned they also have a walking trail and I was assured Socks would be getting plenty of exercise each day, which would include either playtime in the yard (with or without other dogs – my choice) or a leashed walk in the woods. I’m pretty sure that’s more than he gets with me at home and I’m also sure he’ll love every minute of it.
Knowing that I’ve found a clean kennel where Socks will be treated with a lot of love and attention while we’re gone relieves a great deal of my stress as I cross things of my travel preparation to-do list. That doesn’t mean it will be easy to drop him off at the kennel before we leave, but at least I know he’ll be in good hands.
*Edited to add these photos sent to us from the kennel while we were on vacation. Socks was definitely very well taken care of, but he was also really happy when we picked him up and brought him home.