One of the hardest transitions I found myself making when transitioning from my life as a graduate student to a young professional was how to best care for my dog when working long hours or traveling. In my current position as a medical scientist, I am responsible for a sizable territory, which means I am frequently making day trips to other cities within my state. Some of these trips require flights, but often I am driving 2+ hours each way for multiple meetings during the day, leaving my precious pup at home, or the local doggy daycare, for most of the day. And when looking at a face like this…
I’m sure you can understand why I find it so hard to leave him for that long. On these days, with the long commutes to other cities, more often than not, the workday extended beyond the 12 hour days that our local doggy daycare offered. And after numerous requests from friends and neighbors to let him out or pick him up, I knew that I had to find a better solution to this problem. This was when I came up with the crazy idea to start bringing Jordy with on my workday trips.
After our first few adventures to new cities, I had it down to a science of how to make this type of day trip work. My husband and I have also found that this works great when we are making day trips to other cities for weekend fun. There are 5 essential tips that I have found to make day trips – whether for work or pleasure – with your pup as seamless as possible.
Have multiple copies of up to date vet records stored in your car at all times.
This is probably the most important thing I have learned when traveling with Jordy, regardless of if its for a day trip or a week-long trip. Any place that will watch your dog will require an up to date record of the vaccinations. Typically a lot of facilities will have you upload the record to their website to make a reservation; however, I’ve found that a few places also appreciate when you bring in a paper copy. When I’m making these day trips, it frequently means that I am leaving early. And when I say early, I mean like before 5 am kind of early… And while I typically do a good job of preparing myself for these trips the night before, the last thing I want to have to remember is to make a copy of my dog’s vet records to bring with me that day. So any time Jordy and I make a trip to the vet, and I receive a new record for him, I make a few copies of it and store it in a file folder in my car. Easy to remember and easy to grab whenever they are needed.
Research facilities that are in a convenient location where you will be throughout the day.
Another key to having a smooth travel day with your dog is to find a doggy daycare facility that is in a convenient location to where you plan on spending your day. Especially in a city where you are not familiar with where you are going, you do not want to spend all of your extra time navigating additional travel to drop off your dog at the daycare facility. Luckily for us, Google Maps allows for convenient and quick searching. I found that the best way to find nearby doggy daycare facilities is to enter the address of where I will have my meeting that day, and then perform a search of nearby doggy daycare facilities. Which brings me to my next tip.
Read the reviews for the facilities that you are considering.
I never used to be big on reading, or for that matter, writing reviews about my different experiences, but now that I frequently travel, I’ve come to rely on reviews from others. The same is true for doggy daycare facilities. There first two things I look at for reviews are the overall ranking out of 5 stars and how many reviews the facility has. Now if a facility doesn’t have a large number of reviews, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is not a great place; however, it does suggest to me that I need to look a little closer as to why not as many people have used the facility in the past. The most comforting reviews for me is when I see multiple posts about how others will continue to bring their dogs there every time they need to use a daycare facility.
When you go to make a reservation, call the facility to explain your situation.
This is the part where online research ends. Even though many facilities will post their policies online, such as drop-off hours, pricing, or behavioral trials, I find it unbelievably helpful to call the facility to explain my situation. The facility needs to know that you are traveling in and that because of this, your arrival time may vary from the hours that you book a daycare reservation for. A facility that is flexible with drop off and pick-up time is key for keeping your schedule on track for the day. The other question to check when calling the facility is to see about scheduling a behavior trial, and what requirements are necessary for a behavior trial.
Add 20 minutes to your travel time for every 3 hours of driving.
Dogs, just like us, need to get out of the car every couple of hours or so and stretch their legs and have a chance to go to the bathroom. Because there is nothing worse than getting in your car and a few minutes later your dog starts whining because they have to go potty, and this always seems to happen when there is not a place to stop anywhere nearby. I found that the extra 20 minutes gives a safe bubble of time on top of what you already plan for your trip when you are bringing your dog. I have to say this tends to make the drive significantly more enjoyable for me. I stay out of the car for a little while longer and walk around a little more just since I have my best boy with me.
Once you’ve checked all of these items, you can have a great relationship with doggy daycare facilities in multiple areas that you travel to. I now have multiple facilities in the state of Texas, where I am a repeat customer with my Jordy. And now that I’ve gotten more comfortable with how to find facilities that take great care of him, and still be able to get all of my work done during the day, we’ve added additional activities into our day trips that make it one of my favorite activities. Whether it’s a coffee shop or a restaurant with a dog-friendly patio or a local park where we can take a long stroll, these days become a lot more like fun than work.