Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Dog Can't Come?

My ears stung and my heart sank as I took in the simple words….”the dog can’t come”. I was devastated. I was definitely from the school LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG and I just couldn’t imagine why my dear friend of 25 years did not want my 90 pound weimeraner bouncing through his Sonoma Valley home and garden. Hmmmmm….now lets’ analyze my dog Henry’s last trip. I had just moved back to San Francisco and Gary and I decided to surprise our old friends, Bob and Fred. We had a delightful afternoon enjoying the beautiful weather, speaking of old times and trust me……I was not paying attention to my one year old bundle of joy, running amuck, digging in their garden and crapping in the vegetables.

Then night time came and before we could settle into our designer sheets, Henry proceeded to start gagging. I jumped up and ran down the stairs and got him outside just in time for him to throw up. Of course the dreaded diarrhea followed. He always reacted to new water and this was a problem we suffered through his entire life. So we were up and down the stairs no less that 4 times during the night. Not to mention….Henry had a terrible habit of swallowing rocks. So, if he wasn’t throwing up he was gagging long enough for rocks to spew across the floor in an exorcist fashion. I am sure if our friends did not hear us running up and down the stairs they certainly heard the rocks rattling across the floor.

Now is the time to note. My friends had never owned dogs and never wanted to own a dog. They lived in a gorgeous designer home which was their pride. Each and every new wall constructed, garden designed, veggies planted or fountain placed was meticulously thought out and built over 30 years. It was a beautiful retreat, their hobby and their life. They were the most generous of fellows and had shared it with all of us through the years.

Flash forward 12 years. Well, being a bit more mature and having owned a dog-friendly B & B for 5 ½ years I must say….I owe them a serious apology. After my noted experience as an Innkeeper, trust me I have a list of dogs I would like to say “the dog can’t come” but this is our business and we work around the very few troublesome cases. But as they say…it is not the dog it is the owner.

So, let’s get shakin’ and make this a very successful Holiday season. I will attempt to lay out the perfect formula to make you the best house guest ever WITH BOWSER IN TOW.

1) Make sure Bowser gets a bath. He will shed less while being a guest and he certainly will smell better.

2) Make sure you pack Bowser’s much needed supplies in an appropriate box. I own the big Rubbermaid tubs that I buy from Target. Mine are the size of my dog crates. So, when we arrive it is stored on top of the crate. A tidy guest is a happy host.

3) Make sure you have the much needed supplies. a) Blanket or sheet to cover bed if Bowser is a bed buddy. b) food c) bottled water. (It can be from your tap but it will prevent stomach problems if your dog is sensitive and used to your tap water) d) water bowl....Hosts hate being asked for kitchen bowls. It is just not sanitary... e) if you use canned food, bring the can opener f)place mat for water and food bowls g)your own paper towels and h) NATURE'S the case of emergency there is no better product. You can buy it at any pet supply store. The stain and smell are taken care of immediately!

4) Make sure you take the crate if he is crate trained. He or she will settle much better on arrival in his own bedroom versus a strange house.

5) Make sure Bowser is comfortable in the car before the journey. Give him plenty of room. Take along his favorite blanket and allow him to settle in nicely.

6) Make sure he gets plenty of pee breaks and exercise. You are taking him along on your trip. He is not taking you on his. So, be mindful of his needs. He will arrive much less stressed.

7) Make sure upon arrival you give a call to your host from the car and tell them you have arrived but you need to walk the dog first. Yes, everyone is excited to see you and you are dying to throw your arms around grandma. But what happens in the mayhem is stressful for Bowser. Don’t open up the opportunity for Bowser to sneak around the corner for a much needed pee while the hellos get to a feverish pitch. Maybe someone will join you for the walk.

8) Make sure you DO NOT GO INTO THE HOUSE UNTIL THE DOG HAS RELIEVED HIMSELF. I had a huge lab squat as soon as she got in my door recently and release a good quart. Trust me the guest was embarrassed, although they did flee back into the garden expecting me to do the cleaning. As you can see I am still holding a grudge….hmmm…if I was family what do you think I’d say the next time they called.

9) Make sure you put the dog back in the car and give yourself the luxury of receiving all the hugs and kisses you deserve and then let the excitement subside.

10) Make sure to ask the host if it is OK to bring in the dogs crate and supply tub. Set up Bowser’s new digs.

11) Make sure to ask….last but not least ….”Can Bowser come in?” The answer is going to be, “OF COURSE”.

This is nothing but good common sense but at times common sense escapes us with times being so hurried and stressful. All of the steps above are the normal procedures but doubtful you would have thought it through so meticulously if not reminded. So, pack the bags, fill up the car, grab the dog and head out for the best Holiday Season ever.

Last but not least….if you have had a not so good visit with a pooch of recent. Send this article along with an apology and tell them you are much better prepared. Because truth be told...grandma wants to see the grand dog too.

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