A Va­ca­tion Fit for a Dog

Tips on find­ing the per­fect place for your pooch, so you can have a guilt- free hol­i­day

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY PA­TRI­CIA WILL­MAN

It’s that won­der­ful time of year again, and af­ter weeks of plan­ning and dream­ing, you are so close to tak­ing a va­ca­tion. You al­ready made air­line reser­va­tions for yourself, but your ela­tion is sud­denly re­placed by panic when you re­al­ize you for­got one very im­por­tant thing: Where will “Lit­tle Mandy” stay while you are away for two weeks? Mandy is your de­voted Shih Tzu and truly part of your fam­ily. Most of us have at least one pet, and be it dog or cat, your pet’s safety and hap­pi­ness is im­por­tant to you.

If you can’t take Mandy with you on va­ca­tion, ask your lo­cal vet­eri­nar­ian about board­ing ser­vices and check the In­ter­net or Yel­low Pages for pet fa­cil­i­ties in your area. Once you have a list of ken­nels, take the time to visit each one you are con­sid­er­ing be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion.

Here are some things you’ll want to in­quire about dur­ing your tour. Ask to see where your pet will be kept and make sure the fa­cil­ity is clean. How many times a day are dogs taken out for ex­er­cise? It’s very im­por­tant to know whether your pet will be con­fined to a small cage or have a roomier suite. Also, ask if your dog will have so­cial time with other an­i­mals.

In the Fort My­ers area, All Amer­i­can Pet Re­sorts is a pet- board­ing fa­cil­ity that of­fers a safe and clean en­vi­ron­ment. “We are the new­est fa­cil­ity in the area, and we are avail­able 24 hours a day and seven

days a week for pet pick- up and drop- off to ac­com­mo­date flight sched­ules,” says ken­nel man­ager, Iris Al­varenga. “Your pet will be in a cage- free en­vi­ron­ment and will have his own suite.”

All Amer­i­can Pet Re­sorts has two types of suites: deluxe and ex­tra- large va­ca­tion suites. If you want your dog to have a tele­vi­sion, we­b­cam and tele­phone, then book the spa­cious Va­ca­tion Suite. Hope­fully, your dog won’t make calls while there and only use the phone to lis­ten to your voice when you call. In the Deluxe Suite, pets do not have a per­sonal we­b­cam, tele­vi­sion or phone, but you can view them on the we­b­cam in the com­mon ar­eas 24 hours a day. In the hot sum­mer months, cov­ered out­door play ar­eas are cooled with fans and cus­tom mis­ters for your pet’s com­fort. All an­i­mals re­ceive clean, fresh bed­ding, gourmet meals and daily play­time at no ex­tra charge. Be­sides day­care and board­ing, the re­sort of­fers groom­ing, so Mandy can have a trim or man­i­cure while you’re gone.

Bonita Board­ing Ken­nel and Pet Camp in Bonita Springs is home to a pet- board­ing fa­cil­ity with all the ameni­ties. Imag­ine 5,000 square feet of dog­gie heaven un­der roof, com­plete with air con­di­tion­ing and heat to make your pet’s stay com­fort­able. You will have your choice of 4-, 6-, 8- or 10- foot air- con­di­tioned cab­ins for your lit­tle dar­ling to lounge in. Food, wa­ter and fresh bed­ding are pro­vided reg­u­larly.

Al­though the fa­cil­ity has been in busi­ness for five years plus, Debi Braend­ley, one of the own­ers of the fa­cil­ity, says, “We re­cently moved to this lo­ca­tion [ 9240 Brook­wood Court], and all the cab­ins are newly con­structed. We have eight out­door play ar­eas at Bonita Board­ing Ken­nel, and each dog is ex­er­cised three times a day.” If your pet loves to play in wa­ter, you might want to in­clude daily pool time for a fee. With some eight small pools for the dog­gies to romp in, this is a good ad­di­tion par­tic­u­larly dur­ing hot sum­mer days. Bonita Board­ing Ken­nel also of­fers agility train­ing and groom­ing.

The Preppy Pet, a fran­chise pet- board­ing fa­cil­ity, has eight lo­ca­tions in Florida. Beverly John­son and her hus­band Doug An­der­son own the fran­chise in Lees­burg, Florida. Pets sleep on col­or­ful off- the­floor can­vas beds, and the ken­nel has an open, high ceil­ing that cre­ates a spa­cious feel­ing. The fa­cil­ity’s clean­li­ness and fresh- smelling air are im­pres­sive. Cats have their own spe­cial room, and dogs romp in out­door play ar­eas. The an­i­mals here seemed re­laxed and happy, thanks to An­der­son, who ad­mits, “I have the best job in the world. I get to play

with the dogs ev­ery day, and it doesn’t get bet­ter than that.”

Of­ten the least ex­pen­sive fa­cil­ity is the vet­eri­nar­ian of­fice, where the an­i­mals are usu­ally kept in cages in a very small room. When vis­it­ing one, all the dogs be­gan bark­ing loudly and jump­ing around to get at­ten­tion; the sound can be deaf­en­ing. The at­ten­dant could barely be heard above the noise. Al­though not the ideal sit­u­a­tion for an ex­tended stay, the vet’s of­fice is a safe al­ter­na­tive for an overnight. The dogs are let out three times a day for ex­er­cise and bod­ily func­tions, and it’s low cost. But if you need to leave your pouch

for two or three weeks, a board­ing fa­cil­ity is the best way to go.

Re­gard­less of where you choose to lodge your pet, you need to pre­pare in ad­vance. All fa­cil­i­ties re­quire dogs to have up- to- date ra­bies, Borde­tella, dis­tem­per and par­vovirus vac­ci­na­tions, as well as proof of flea and tick preven­tion. Cats are also re­quired to have their des­ig­nated vac­ci­na­tions.

Now that you know some of your op­tions, let’s get down to just how much it costs to board your pet. Daily rates at these fa­cil­i­ties range from $ 16 to $ 65, depend­ing on the size of the suite or cage. Some fa­cil­i­ties have a ba­sic charge and tack on additional fees for play­time, while oth­ers may in­clude it at no ex­tra cost. Be sure to ask if the price is all- in­clu­sive or if there are charges for cer­tain ser­vices.

If you find the per­fect place for your pet, you’ll cer­tainly en­joy a guilt- free va­ca­tion— and Mandy just might wish you stayed away a lit­tle longer.

Fresh air and open sky keep dogs happy in this out­door play area at Bonita Board­ing Ken­nel and Pet Camp.

Preppy Pet board­ing fa­cil­i­ties pro­vide am­ple space for dogs and cats to stretch and move about freely.

Big house, lit­tle dog. This Chi­huahua at Bonita Board­ing Ken­nel poses for his cute por­trait.

The air- con­di­tioned cab­ins at Bonita Board­ing Ken­nel come in var­i­ous sizes to ac­com­mo­date small, medium and large dogs.

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