July 22, 2006

dog sitters should never graduate

the good thing about "getting away from it all" is that, well, you get away from it all. the bad thing is that "all" includes your dog. so, what are my options for boarding il snofo when i'll be gone for my first more-than-a-week vacation in five years next month?

the most basic kennel offers this: "Your dog will stay safely in his own 4x4 sleeping quarters with a attached 4x10 exercise run...At the end of each section of runs there are large garage doors that allow fresh air to flow freely amongst the kennels". the dog will not be taken outside (unless booked and paid for separately, $5 for "up to 30 minutes playtime". up to? what is that supposed to mean?). costs are $16/day. affordable -- but not very tempting. plus, they don't take in dogs on sundays (my flight is on monday morning).

friends of mine recently boarded their dog at a kennel that charges $16 for a "kennel" and $25/day for a "condo" (10x10, with separation walls between them -- kennels are separated by chainlink fences only). kennels don't have an outside area, but the dogs get "4-6 bathroom breaks" and extra playtime in a 2 acre outdoor area every day. the pictures on the website don't look very inviting (it seems a very noisy place and not superclean), but perhaps i should go and see for myself.

the next establishment, one at which i boarded brandy a couple of times in the past (but never for longer than 3 or 4 days), has just raised its fees. accomodation in the "pampered pooch suite", which is much more basic than it sounds (it's just a small kennel with access to a small private outside area, separated from other kennels by a chain-link fence), is $25/day. dogs are let out in small groups into a larger playyard twice or three times a day (what's up with the "or"?). okay, that's better. and i actually know the place. and it's only a 20 min drive (these things matter if the dog in question becomes a whiny passenger after 5 miles) and yes, they take in dogs on sundays. let me send a reservation inquiry right away.

the next step up is a "pet spa" that has worked very well in the past. once one has cut through all the anthropomorphizing verbiage on the website ("Once they arrive in this country elegance, they will be escorted to their heated, tiled room plush with lamb's wool bedding"), it all comes down to this: accomodation is $34.50/day, and dogs are taken into a playyard in small groups about six to eight times a day. the general idea is to have them spend as little time as possible in their sleeping quarters during the day. they also offer romps in the park (see picture), but they are $7.00 extra. there is no check-in on sundays (although they are open and dogs can be picked up. i don't get it.). hmpf.

finally, also on the high end, there's a new luxury kennel, billing itself as a "hotel" (dogs are actually referred to as "hotel guests"!). the language used on their website is even more preposterous ("Imagine yourself curled up in a soft bed next to a crackling fire, being scratched behind the ears… you find a biscuit on your pillow and begin to drift off to the soft sounds of Mozart"), but what matters more is that dogs seem to get a lot of interaction (about 2 hours of play time per day), plus do they take dogs in on sundays. miraculously, they also charge $34.50/day (for a "bungalow", i.e. an ordinary kennel). perhaps i should have a look at this place? or would i be overwhelmed with all the mozart, chandeliers, and fireplaces?

decisions, decisions -- sometimes i wish our dog sitter would never have graduated!
(dear n., if you are reading this, i'm only kidding of course, i wish you the very best for your career.)

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