As much as we like vacationing, we do miss our four-legged kids when we’re gone. We’re just back from a 10-day trip to Washington state, and the scenery and weather were both amazing. With the highs rarely above 70 degrees, we didn’t miss the Georgia heat, but we did miss the kids. It was especially hard to leave them this time, not only because Tinker, the 13-year-old dog, has been a bit under the weather, but also because we have a new kitten named Puddin.
Through the years, we’ve made varying arrangements for critter care. At times, the neighbors have looked after them, or we’ve hired the “Personal Butler,” whose ads you can often find in The Crier. Sometimes, my mom likes to stay with her “grandpets” but only if it’s for no more than three or four nights.
A few years ago when we got our dog Banjo, we started sending both dogs to EmPhil, a kennel where they can stay together in their own run. On top of that, you can schedule baths for them and arrange for their pick up and return in the EmPhil van. I always get a kick out of seeing all of the animals in their crates in the van. It somehow seems like sending the kids to summer camp. You can’t beat their service, especially when you plan to be gone a week or more. Back then, we still had our 22-year-old cat, who spent her days under the wood burning stove in the winter or in a sunny spot in the summer. She was much more interested in heat and food than she was in us, so we never felt guilty about leaving her home alone, with the neighbors coming in every few days to tend to her.
This time, though, with a new kitten and an aging dog, we wanted the animals to stay at home. Puddin enjoys playing with the dogs’ tails and ears and has taken over their big beds as her nap spots, so I couldn’t see sending her to the kennel to stay in a cage by herself. As for Tinker, she doesn’t seem to know she’s aging, but recently she’s been seeing Dr. Winter at the Village Clinic for a variety of issues. In April, she had a bout with vestibular disease (vertigo), and was at the clinic for three days because she couldn’t stand up. She hasn’t been quite the same since and is still a bit unsteady on her feet. I can’t believe the number of people I’ve met who’ve had older dogs with the same thing. I guess that’s why it’s also known as old dog disease. Given all of this, it seemed time to find a critter sitter to come to the house.
I found Sherry in The Crier. She was willing to visit three times a day and, believe it or not, had also had a dog with vestibular disease. She said she’d put Tinker in the car and take her to the Village Clinic if necessary. That was exactly what I needed to hear. “Ganma,” as we sometimes call my mom, stayed with the kids the first few days, and then Sherry took over. She even took our dogs to her home and bathed them. With that kind of care lined up, I was able to enjoy a worry-free vacation, knowing that Tinker, Banjo and Puddin were in good hands at home in Dunwoody.
Kathy Manos Penn is a Sandy Springs resident who has worked in corporate America for almost 30 years, primarily in communications and leadership development; firstname.lastname@example.org.