Keeping the family pet happy while on vacation
Stephanie Graham, Courtny Gerrish
For Marcus, his dog Macy is part of the family. When he goes on vacation, he wants her to have a good time too.
"I just don't want her to be locked up in the house or in a kennel. I want her to be able to be free and running around," he says.
So Marcus logged onto dogvacay.com, a service that connects owners with hosts who are willing to open up their homes to furry friends.
Aaron Hirschhorn is the website's founder. He says, "Our site is really at its core a matchmaking service. We have thousands of hosts, all over the U.S. and Canada. You can schedule and book online, just like a travel site."
Dog vacay is one of many new sites, offering an alternative to a kennel or hiring a dog walker. They say hosts treat the dogs like family, and can provide more individual attention in a home environment that may be more comforting for the canines. Also, it typically costs about half the price of a kennel stay.
"If you have a really large greyhound that needs a lot of exercise, we can find you a host with a giant yard or a ranch. Let's say you have a special needs dog that requires twice injectable medications, we have a retired vet tech who can handle that situation for you," Hirschhorn explains.
Roxanne Moran is one such host--inviting an average of 6 to 10 pooches into her house every month. She says, "I really develop a strong relationship with the dogs. I treat them just like I would my own dogs. I love the dogs that come here."
Dog Behaviorist Terri Bright says pet hosting can be a great option for certain dogs. "Some dogs might feel more comfortable in a home setting. They might enjoy the smell of cooking or being around people or lying on the couch."
But, she says, others might find it more difficult to adapt to a strange new environment.
"That might make them nervous, it might effect their ability to eat their normal food, they might become very fearful and hide, they might even show some aggression," Bright warns.
She suggests you ask plenty of questions and set up an initial meet and greet before dropping off your dog.
"You want to see a certificate of insurance, you want to speak to other people who have left their pet there, you want to meet everyone in the home, every pet in the home and see them interact with your pet," Bright suggests.
As for Macy, Marcus says she's had no trouble adjusting, and loves her new home away from home. "My dog loves it here. I've never had as much peace of mind."
Another tip: Before you book your dog, make sure the hosting site offers insurance coverage for any vet emergencies that might arise while you're gone.