Monday, March 19, 2012

On the Road

While M and I are soaking up the sun rain hail?!? in Arizona for a few days, Alfred and Bruce Wayne are on mini vacations of their own.  Before we found Alfred, we had all sorts of grand ideas about what it would be like to vacation with our dog, driving across the country and exploring any place our combined 8 legs could go....with Alfred in the mix this is no longer a really feasible option (at least for now), and we've explored a number of different options for doggie care while we're away.  Here's a run-down of places we've tried and what's worked (or hasn't) for us.

1) Family
While a trip to the "grandparents'" house is always a viable option for everyone's favorite grand-dog, Bruce Wayne, neither of M or my families posses the advanced dog-handling skills needed to keep Alfred for any extended amount of time.  We're constantly working toward this being a dual-dog option in the future, but for now it remains a half-solution if necessary.
Pros: comfortable environment, reliable care, FREE  Cons: not dual-dog friendly, far distance to drop-off/pick-up, feelings of guilt if they do something naughty

2) Friends
Living in Chicago over the last few years, we've discovered a pretty terrific network of dog-loving friends who are always willing to help out when they can.  In the early Alfred days, he was lucky enough to stay a few times with Auntie B (either at her place or at ours) while Bruce Wayne went to stay with family.  And last year during our wedding & honeymoon we got a VERY generous offer to watch both dogs from their Auntie H from In Black & White (you can read more about their adventures here, here, and here).  Unfortunately, Alfred and Billy don't quite get along, so that was only a one time deal.  :\ Fortunately, Bruce and Billy are buds, so he is currently snuggled up there until we return home from our trip. :)
Pros: comfortable environment, reliable care, FREE, lots of adorable pup-dates via blogland, close distance to drop-off/pick-up  Cons: possible Alfred-induced injuries, therefore not always Alfred-friendly...

3) Dog-friendly Hotels
Why I ever thought this was a good idea, the world will never know.  We had so many weekend trips planned those first couple months after we first found Sir Alfred, and we were running out of favors from friends who were able to watch him while we were away, so we decided we would just bring him with on the next trip and keep him in our hotel room.  We know better now.  Not only did he freak out almost the entire 2 hour car ride, but he spent the entire night pacing back and forth through the tiny hotel room, jumping from bed to bed and immediately barking any time we tried to put him in his crate.  By the morning M and I were so sleep deprived, we were desperate to find a place in town that could take him for the remainder of the weekend....which brings us to our next category.

4) Kennels
Our first foray into paying for doggie care (other than staying at the vet after his neuter surgery) happened the very next morning in beautiful Bloomington-Normal, IL.  Our options were limited to places that would allow us to pick-up on a Sunday afternoon, so we ended up bring him here for the remainder of the weekend. Alfred had his own private kennel with both indoor and outdoor access, and the price was reasonable.  When we picked him up a couple days later he seemed to be in good spirits and slept most of the ride home to Chicago...and we were able to get some sleep of our own. :)
Pros: no need for a temperament test, takes reservations on short notice, inexpensive boarding option  Cons: minimum interaction with people, no soft spots for snuggling, far distance from our house

5) In-home Boarding
Poor Alfred was bounced around to a bunch of different places before we found our current solution where he is happily staying this week while we are away.  Kritter Kare is a dog care service in Elmhurst that provides boarding, daycare, and dog walks.  The great thing about Kritter Kare is that all of the services are run from the owner's home, and she is really terrific with all shapes and sizes of dogs (even difficult one's like our Alfie).  Alfred is always excited to see Rosie, and she even provides pick-up and drop-off services to the city FREE of charge.  And at $45/night it's about the best deal we've been able to find in the Chicagoland area; for Alf to have a reliable place to stay while we're gone it is totally worth it.  We've even taken advantage of her daycare service for both of the boys in the past and they always come home happy and tired - success!
Pros: comfortable in-home environment, reliable care, pick-up/drop-off service, reinforcement of training commands, friendly service  Cons: can get expensive for extended stays

Bruce's "monster head" slipped it's way into my purse and onto the plane - whoops!

In conclusion...
While we'd prefer for both the pups to be able to stay with family and friends, Kritter Kare has been an excellent option for those times when we don't feel like torturing our loved ones with too many wild beasty nights.  It is a great feeling to know that wherever they stay, they will be treated with the love and care that we would give them ourselves (if not more so), and they always have a smooth transition coming back home at the end of the trip.  Can't wait to see them in a couple of days!!


  1. We've had great luck with ChiTown Dog House. Lola and Franklin have stayed there for many a vacation, and love it. The staff is wonderful and loves the pups. We've run into one of them in the neighborhood on walks, and Lola has never been more excited to see a person in her life. She obviously LOVES this lady and the fun she represents. I have a few friend who have also boarded their dogs there with great success.

    1. Good to know! It's such a good feeling to know that they are having a great time while we're out of town. That certainly wasn't the case with a couple of the first places we tried and I felt terrible coming home to an anxious dog. :( I feel so lucky to have such a great network of dog-loving friends too; Bruce Wayne and Alfred have so many fun aunties and uncles whom they love to bits :)

  2. We might try in-home care for Badger and Mushroom the next time we go out of town. We tried the friends option (no family nearby) when we had one dog and our friends had one dog, but now that we each have two dogs, I can't really justify forcing them to have 16 puppy feet running around their upstairs apartment. And the last time Badger went to the kennel, he came back with worms and a fear of his food bowl. Having to make arrangements for the dogs makes us never want to travel again, which is unfortunately not an option because our families both live far away.