All pics in this post are courtesy of Paws on Peaks.
I used to be much less particular about who watched my animals while I was away. Oh, I wasn’t cavalier! I enlisted friends or boarded at places that I felt comfortable with. But I spent years in the horse world dealing with folks who were unreasonably picky and precious, micromanaging about every last detail of Lightning’s life when really Lightning would have much rather gotten to hang out in the field with all his friends, even if he was wearing a midweight blanket instead of a heavy-. I had become — just as unreasonably, though I didn’t realize it at the time — terrified of coming across as That Guy. So I spent rather a long time in the realm of accepting good-enough care.
The first wake-up call came when I, through happy accident, ended up leaving my weird and darling old Caseydog in the care of just the right person and saw the difference when I picked him up. So happy to see me, but also so happy where he was!
The next and bigger wake-up call came when I moved my then-horse, for many reasons, into a new barn and discovered how much better I felt when I could just take for granted that he was okay when I wasn’t there to keep tabs on him. A weight I hadn’t fully appreciated was just gone from my shoulders.
So I’ve gotten increasingly choosy, these last few years, about whether I leave the dog(s) behind when I travel and if so, in whose care. In practice, that’s meant that I don’t travel very far very often right now. I’m living in a new area where I don’t yet have a strong local support system established and I’m resource-limited. This past weekend’s whirlwind trip to Pennsylvania was a long time coming and was made possible by Paws on Peaks generously agreeing to take the critters for the weekend.
Lilo isn’t an especially complicated dog to care for. She’s more reactive off-trail than on-, so I wouldn’t want just anybody taking her for long walks in heavily-trafficked areas. But her house manners are pretty impeccable, as long as it’s a house where the couches belong to the dogs.
Titus is more challenging. He’s a sweet, happy charmer of a dog. He’s also a demanding little fellow who cheerfully brought me every shoe off Krista’s rack while we were chatting at drop-off time and whose compromised leg needs protecting. Give us a year or so and it’ll be a different story. Right now, though, he’d overwhelm an awful lot of lovely folks. (He overwhelms me!)
Even more than the resident humans, I was super-curious to see what Tybee and Tango would think of their houseguests. Lilo gets along with both dogs like gangbusters. Ty and Titus were smitten with each other from their first moment of meeting when we picked him up at the shelter, but Tango isn’t the cattlefrog’s biggest fan. We were all confident that they could coexist under the same roof successfully for a few days, but I wondered whether Titus would work his dog-charming magic.
The answer turned out to be only sort of. They got along better and better as the weekend went, but Titus opted to find Tango funny instead of, y’know, barking less. Work in progress! The girls apparently took turns playing with Titus, though, and Tango got lots of pets, so everyone was happy in the end.
It was reassuring to hear that my beasties handled themselves well and also that they were quirky for Krista in the same ways that they’re quirky for me at home. I not-so-secretly hoped that I would come back and hear that she had found a magic trick for getting Titus to settle, but there’s a lot to be said for reassurance that you’re not somehow breaking your dogs in a way that a better handler would just instantly fix. And the success she had in managing them gave me confidence to be a little bolder in my asks. As I type this, we’re all hanging out together with some good chews available, but not a constant stream of exciting new distractions. And yes, Titus is having moments of needing an adult — but on the whole, it’s going well!
I was really touched to hear that Lilo wanted to hang out with Titus during their stay. He adores her and she decided a while back that he’s her annoying dog, but it’s not always clear to me whether she really likes him yet. But apparently she repeatedly opted to chill near him during quiet times even though he preferred couch was in a different room.
I missed the dogs while I was away and I was delighted to see them on my return, but I never once worried about them — and when we were loading up to go home, Titus was very interested in getting into his crate when he saw it go into the car, but also very interested in running back up the stairs to Krista and company’s house. I’m glad they had such a good time at camp!