My girls are pretty spoiled. I work from home, so they don't really know the word schedule. Their crate time is non-existent. Nothing is off limits, except the cats' room. They have dog beds, but prefer to use our king-sized place of rest. They eat raw food. Enjoy a marshmallow before bed and the occasional gourmet dog biscuit from our favorite pet bakery. Basically, their lives are the doggie equivalent of an episode of MTV Cribs.
So when we go on vacation, and I cannot figure out a way to bring the girls with us, I have a handful of resources I turn to to care for them. I'm picky. Very picky. So picky that the closest kennel I use is two and half hours away from my home. I typically tour the space. I interview the care taker(s) - this includes the kids who feed them, let them out and clean up after them if necessary. If I see or sense an angry teenage boy might have access to my girls - the facility is immediately off my list. I want to see where they sleep. I want to see where their food is kept. I want to know they are comfortable feeding raw. I must see that the outside play space is clean (no poop). I look for care takers playing with and loving on the other dogs. I look to make sure my girls will have little, preferably no, contact with other breeds. I check to make sure the facility has the ability not put my girls near a constant barker. If possible, I ask for references - and I call them.
Basically, I approach this like I would if I were picking a day care for a six week old baby.
We vacation in Florida at least once a year and I have a fabulous twitter/blog friend, Stefanie, that keeps the girls when we are near the Tampa area. Unfortunately, she lost her oldest greyhound, Macy (godspeed sweet girl), just two days before we were to drop our girls off. It didn't feel right to interfere with this household in their time of grief. Stefanie recommended Just Like Home Pet Hotel (JLH).
David Island Dog Beach and taking over the local LaQuinta. After a call with Joanie at JLH, I felt good, but this control freak was a bit out of her comfort zone. I had to throw caution to the wind and remind myself that if I wasn't comfortable when we dropped them off, we would just take them with us and figure it out when we got to Fort Myers.
But the best part was Joanie herself. She was warm, welcoming, and genuinely loved the dogs. She has a great fabulous pre-arrival paperwork. It asks questions like, what the dogs like to play with, their potty schedule, food schedule and their preferred sleeping location. It stormed almost every day there, but Jonie was comfortable with catering to a thunder phobic dog and even called me a couple of times to let me know that everything was ok. She would text me photos during their stay so I could see them. Joanie teared up when we came to pick them up. Seriously - this was exceptional care.
So if you are driving to the Tampa area and want to bring your pup along for part of the ride, call Joanie. And if Animal Planet wants to do a doggie cribs t.v. show - I know who I will nominate first.
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