Traveling Dog Lady: Vacationing with a senior dog

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vacationing with a senior dog

A few weeks ago, when I thought I was going to be spending some time on the Jersey Shore with some girl friends, I realized I had to come up with a better plan for care for Hobie while I am on vacation.  I had it all set up to board him at the 24/7 vet that saved his life (twice) last year.  I did have to bring him back to the regular vet to get a bordetella vaccine, as we had skipped that earlier in the spring when he got his rabies booster.  We figured we would not be boarding him anymore, but then it occurred to me... wait a minute!... I can't expect my pet sitter, or even a family member, to do what I do with Hobie (carry him up and down stairs, take him outside in the middle of the night a few times, sometimes hold the food and water bowls up so he can eat and drink, etc.).

The last time a sitter stayed with him, just a few weeks ago, she misunderstood his middle-of-the-night cues, and his need for (ahem) "privacy", and she went back to bed after carrying him outside where he only urinated.  Five minutes later, he pooped in the kitchen, and she spent the rest of the night washing the kitchen floor (which, by the way, she did not need to do... cleaning up just that one spot would've been sufficient -- and it's what I would have done myself!).  I positively could NOT put her through that again.  The fact is, no one other than me knows his needs.  We are so closely connected, we communicate all day long with non-verbal communications.  So, I called the 24/7 vet which is also a "pet retreat".  They have a medical boarding feature which is a great solution for folks like us.  A vet is on duty 24/7, and the senior or special needs pet is given correct meds and monitored, assisted outdoors and everything else that's required.  It would be a perfect solution, and in fact I may do it later this summer, because, alas, my girl friends cancelled the trip to NJ.

I was planning to sneak away to Cape Cod for a "beach day" last Saturday, and I got this crazy idea.  Why not take Hobie with me and leave the twins at home with their "daddy", and I get to spend a long weekend instead of just going for the day?!  Gil thought it was a great idea, too.  So, off Hobie and I went on Saturday morning, at the crack of dawn, so as to avoid traveling in the heat, AND Saturday Cape Cod traffic (i.e., nightmare!).

Walking about in the yard

On one of the hotter days... sleeping with tongue sticking out!
What a goofball!
It was not the easiest road trip ever.  First, I had to get him into the car without the twins finding out.  Not easy, but I did it.  However, Hobie kind of didn't really "do his business" fully that morning.  So, about 90 minutes into the trip, he started pacing and panting in the way-back of the Subaru where I had him safely confined.  Thankfully, I had taken a wrong turn a few weeks prior, on the same route when I was looking for a bathroom break for myself... I found this little place that was kind of icky, but would be a safe place to take him out of the car to do his thing.  We found the area with no problem, just off the highway.  I carried him out of the car, put on a leash, and we walked around until he did what he had to do.  Back in the car we went.  But not for long!  About 5 minutes later, he started huffing and puffing again.  I realized he probably wanted water.  I pulled into a rest area, and poured water in his bowl, and he refused to drink it!  Ugh!  Then, I realized, this is a modified version of his old traveling habits -- he wanted to be up front with me.  In the old days, he would just hop over the seat!  Can't do that anymore.   I kept driving.  We made it to the house just as traffic started getting bad, and temps were rising.

I have to say that this idea to bring him with me, without the twins, "Just the two of us", is one of the best ideas I've ever had.  It's the number one nicest thing I have ever done, for anybody.  He is thriving here, really enjoying himself, relaxed, cool, getting lots of sleep.  Yet still having trouble seeing, hearing, eating and drinking.  I have to carry him out the ONE step (yay!  our house back at home has nothing BUT stairs).  We walk the yard together, and have a lovely time.  If I go out on errands, or to the beach, I have to make it quick, as I have come back to find him pacing and "moaning" (he can no longer bark), looking for me.  It is sad to see him needing me so much, not being able to see me, sometimes when I am in the same room.  The other night, he wanted to sit outside and observe the Super Moon.  So, we did.  He laid in the sand in the back yard, by the old picnic table, just like he used to do with Hector on summer nights after dinner.  I was so happy to see him doing that again.  I sat beside him in the lawn chair, and we both experienced the moonrise.

That little dot is the "super" moon ha ha.
 We were supposed to go home today, but I had an opportunity to extend a few days, and, with a little help from my "It Takes A Village" crew back home, and a lot of unnecessary tears, I managed to get it done.  We will be here until Friday, so we accidentally got an entire week vacation together.  A gift I will treasure always.  Today, it is very cool outside, and Hobie is really doing well.  He does SO well in the cooler weather.  The TV weather reports always say "Cooler on the Cape", and that is why it's good for him to be here in mid-July, instead of at home where it can be up to 10 degrees warmer.

Cooler On the Cape!

When Hobie was a little puppy, he used to take showers with me!  I would be in the shower, and he would just walk in!  I would laugh my fool head off.  He has not done it in years, but he always accompanies me in the bathroom every morning.  He is My Bathroom Buddy.  This morning, I turned on the shower, and walked in, and he walked in behind me, just like he used to do all those years ago. I laughed and laughed until my stomach hurt!  Everything happens for a reason, I do believe, and the reason we didn't go home today was so we could enjoy that silly moment together!

Water dog!!  "Hey, it smells like wet dog in here!"

I will treasure the memory of this vacation for the rest of my days.  I know the end is getting nearer and nearer for Hobie on this Earth.  But he is my heart, and will always be with me.  So will the memory of this week on Cape Cod, and all the other times we spent here as well.