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Get Out of the Doghouse: by Kim Henson

Dogsitting Our Granddogs

I wasn’t sure which one pulled the pizza box off the kitchen counter,

Tanner or Savannah, but I was certain they both had full stomachs. I did figure out that Tanner chewed the red plastic cup from the kitchen sink because he threw it up later. By the time I walked by the bathroom and heard Savannah lapping water, I knew it was time to close the commode lids and get a plan. It had been a long time since my husband and I had parented, especially young, energetic dogs, and we were out of practice. We were keeping our three-year-old granddogs, both mixed labs, for the weekend and were totally unprepared. While Tanner stood by my husband’s chair and “pounded it” (put his large paw on my husband’s arm again and again), Savannah paced back and forth by my chair, whining like she was trying to tell me something. What we didn’t know was both dogs could tell time and it was time to eat. Tanner just wanted the food but Savannah had a few obvious things, and some not so obvious, to share. Grandparents and caregivers alike can follow these simple instructions and make their guest’s stay, and their own lives, more manageable and enjoyable. 1. Have everything you need: food, food dish, water bowl, bed, leash, blanket and toys. 2. Buy chew toys, they are a good alternative to furniture and shoes.

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November | December 2009

3. Have a safe place to contain dogs whether it is a dog-proof room, fenced yard, crate or a dog playpen/exercise pen. Savannah prefers to go with us everywhere we go. 4. Dog-proof cabinets and closets. You may be surprised what dogs can get into. 5. Know each dog’s routines, habits, and commands. When do they eat? Drink? Go outside? Do they have places they like to use the bathroom? Are table scraps okay or only dog food? What words do they know? For example, if up on the furniture, do they respond to “get down,” “down,” or “no.” And do they “shake,” “paw,” or “pound it” for their food? 6. Know their idiosyncrasies. You may sleep better if you get this information. Savannah gets hot at night so she wants to be near an AC vent or have a bare floor to lie on. Tanner sucks on a stuffed monkey to fall asleep. He gets cold at night so he has a Coleman brand doggy sleeping bag that keeps him from trying to get on the bed and under the covers. 7. Check out doggy day care options if keeping the dog around all day is too much responsibility or if grandparents work and don’t want to leave them unattended. 8. For dog fun, there are dog parks in most areas where dogs can run free inside a fenced area and meet friends. Just make sure he/she has socialized with other dogs before the visit. 9. Know pet hazards. (see sidebar with pet hazards) The next time around, when we stepped up to grandparent, we followed Savannah’s suggestions and we were all happier for it.

November/December 2009  

Dog Living Magazine