Summer is a great time for family vacations, trips with friends, and other outdoor activities! We look forward to this time all year. The one thing that is stressful, however, is figuring out what to do with our animal companions, if they cannot come with us. Every animal parent that I know stresses about where to leave them, the cost, and if their companion will feel abandoned. All of these concerns, and others, are very valid.
A family friend was in this exact position, a week or so ago. She asked me if I would watch her boy, Nitro. Of course I said yes! After I committed to the days, I realized that I had never met Nitro before, and he has never been to my apartment! Of course, this had me spiraling on how he would feel, how would it work out, etc. Then I realized "Daniela! Just communicate with him!". Oh yeah! I forgot! (Can we blame the excessive heat on my momentary mental lapse?)
I asked Nitro's human for a photo and spent some time connecting with him while I was working. In my communications, I sent him images of the apartment. I started with the entrance, moved up the stairs, went into the living room, then back to the kitchen and then the other rooms. I did this several times in the same order, and explained what we would do together in each room. I knew Nitro was listening, but he did not send me back any messages. That didn't bother me. I knoew he was dealing with watching his humans pack and all that.
When it was time for Nitro to arrive, I was very excited. I had not had a dog in my home since Little Bear. Well, that's not true. My landlord's dog Coqui comes to visit sometimes. This was, however, the first time I would have a dog with me for an extended period of time. Anyway, when Nitro came, he greeted me with excitement. He pulled on the leash to go up the stairs. When they took him off the leash, Nitro raced around the entire apartment in the exact order that I explained to him during the communication! Not only that, but he was not anxious at all. Nitro seemed to know where everything was and made himself at home right away.
Nitro stayed with me for about 4 days. He didn't like to be left alone at first, but by the end of the stay, he was fine. We walked alot. He explored the neighborhood and seemed to know exactly where to go. I suspect that Little Bear had a hand in that. We also went on a little hike and car ride. Nitro expecially loved his nightly massages and snuggles. All in all, I treated this time with Nitro as HIS vacation. I did as much as I could for his enjoyment and relaxation and communicated with him exactly how long he would be with me and when he was getting picked up. All transitions were super easy and Nitro had a great time (me too!)
This time together reminded me of how important communication is with our companions. Because I was so clear with Nitro before he was dropped off to me, there was no anxiety. None for him, and none for his human parents. Everyone was able to enjoy their vacations without any stress. That is a wonderful thing!