You're about to take a vacation just before the kids head back to school, but there is one member of your family who will not be going on the trip - your pet.
"I don't feel good unless I know that he is OK," said Joe Kovacich of Niles about his dog, Sammy, a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees. "I call every day to check on him."
Deciding where to have your pet stay while you are away from home involves a lot of planning. Many factors must be considered so that your pet is well-taken care of and is comfortable and stress-free.
Katie Costello, a licensed dog trainer and owner of the Learning Dog in Hubbard, believes that the best place for your pet to stay is at home while you are on vacation, but she understands that it is not always a feasible option.
"At home with someone to check on them will cause the least stress," Costello said. "It is their environment. Being at someone else's home is choice number two since it is calmer than a kennel / boarding facility.
''A kennel or boarding place is three because from a behavioral aspect it is an unnatural circumstance, but none of these choices are horrible."
To make sure that their dog was in a comfortable boarding situation, the Kovacich family did their research.
"Joe looked up places online," said Mary Ann Kovacich. "He knew someone who had brought their dog to the boarding place and we met with the owner. She had a Great Pyrenees, so she knew the breed."
When choosing a boarding site, one thing to consider is your pet's age.
"We accept puppies as young as six weeks old as long as they have the required shots for their age and they are parasite-free," said Carrie DeCesare, owner of boarding site Broadview Acres.
Costello recommends bringing your pet for a trial run visit to the boarding site to see how they react to being there.
"A pretty common issue is that the first 12 to 24 hours (in the boarding site), most dogs or cats will not want to eat because they are just upset because they are away from the family," said Hubbard veterinarian, Dr. Charles Sung.
"Some good kennels and good people boarding animals will make sure they eat on their own or they will be feeding them. By the second day on they should be eating on their own. If the site does not feed them, then maybe you should avoid such a place," Sung said.
Meeting the people who will be interacting with your pet during their stay at the boarding site is very important.
"Find out who the caretakers may be," Sung said. "It is not a casual thing when they take their pets to a place. They want to make sure they are properly taken care of. It would be a good thing to talk to the people who take care of them."
Another important thing to factor into your decision is the physical aspect of the site including the sleeping rooms, exercise area and security.
"Make sure they are clean," Sung said. "Make sure they use proper disinfectant. That it is routinely disinfected. Also, that the play area is free of parasites and heartworm."
Most sites typically require that your pet's immunizations and screenings are current.
"All pets must be up to date on their routine vaccinations and have a kennel cough shot," DeCesare said. "We also require a yearly negative stool sample. All guests must have a copy of their records when they come into the building and yearly updates are required."
Mary Ann Kovacich said that her dog let her family know which boarding site he preferred.
"The first site we brought Sammy to he didn't want to get out of the car, but the place he has been going to for several years now, when we get there, he pulls me or my husband to the entrance door," she said. "He is excited to be there, play with the other dogs and see the owner."
Because of the play time, DeCesare believes it is good to bring your puppy to a boarding site as soon as you can.
"It helps in the socialization process, and it also helps the puppy like and look forward to being boarded so it can play with friends and run around."
There are many things to consider when boarding your pet, but Sung believes one item trumps all other factors.
"The most important thing to me seems to be personnel," he said. "Are they well-trained? Are they really understanding to the dilemma of pets that are boarding there? It is not just a mechanical thing they do. They interact with the pets. I would look at that. That is important to me."
Pet families should make a well-informed decision when choosing a boarding site for this most important member of their family, a decision which will benefit their pet and everyone's peace of mind.