I know a lot of pet lovers out there that worry about their pets. Sometimes pets seem like children. We worry about them; we want them to be well taken care of. We don’t want them to be sad or to miss us while we’re gone regardless of the time-span. So traveling for long periods of time can be stressful for pet owners.
The first thing to think about is who you trust with your pets and who would want to keep your pets for the length of your traveling. For us there was only one option: parents! I mean really, what other suckers will take in a dog (Cattle Dog) and cat (Crazy Cat) for 6 months and love them as they would their own. Luckily, we have been able to stay with my parents for more than a month to help with the adjustment.
This brings me to the zoo. My parents already have a dog (Big White Dog) and a cat (Old Man Cat). Bringing our pets into the mix has resulted in quite a few changes around the house.
1. The house erupts in barking whenever anyone thinks about walking near the house, a dog hears a strange noise, or someone knocks on the door. Cattle Dog isn’t used to barking at people outside windows, but she very willingly joins in the ruckus.
2. The cat food can no longer be kept on the floor. The Big White Dog is terrified of clanking sounds that dishes make, so it was safe to keep the Old Man Cat food in a little bowl on the tile floor. Big White Dog wouldn’t go within 5 feet of it. Cattle Dog, the newcomer, doesn’t have any qualms about noise so the food had to be moved.
3. Exercise needs to be coordinated. People cannot be outnumbered by dogs, especially not these dogs. Cattle Dog is a born herding dog. She will herd other dogs, people, bicycles, horses, cats, and really anything else that moves in an effort to exhibit how good her genetics are. She needs to be watched with at least two eyes.
4. Food no longer flows from the table into the Big White Dog’s mouth (much to her disappointment). Cattle Dog doesn’t get much human food and the small scraps she does get come from the kitchen. This has been the hardest adjustment for the parents. We keep telling them that those big brown eyes are lying.
5. Big White Dog has become much more active (although part of this might be the 20+ glucosamine pills she found on the floor, care of Crazy Cat knocking them off the shelf). The two dogs have become playmates; they may even become besties while we’re gone.
6. Old Man Cat is angry. He is set in his ways and doesn’t appreciate Cattle Dog’s herding efforts. He has taken up residence under the parents’ bed and sneaks outside under the cover of darkness. Hopefully he’ll join the rest of the family soon.
Here are some pictures to sum up the dogs’ behavior. Big White Dog sits and watches while Cattle Dog wants to play (always!).