May 25, 2018

Nomadic Pets: Preparing for Long Term Pet Care


Photo Credit: My Boy Dodger

Whether you’re traveling with your pets, or arranging for them to receive care while you are away, there are numerous issues to be addressed.

Accommodations, medicine, veterinary authorization, alternative contact information, special powers of attorney and routine expenses are just a few.

While our two dogs are traveling with us by car from Arizona to Maine, they will be spending the winter with a friend of ours who has agreed to care for them in exchange for a nominal monthly fee plus expenses. We chose this option partly because the lake house is not yet winterized. Otherwise, we may have considered the house sitting / pet sitting option to provide the dogs with greater consistency in their routines and environment.

We also went this route for medical, scheduling and lifestyle reasons. Our oldest dog is not only on arthritis medication, she also has a chronic eye disease which requires her to receive a double round of medicine (drops, followed fifteen minutes later by a special ointment) four times a day. For someone who is not able to telecommute, this would be too much of a hardship. But our friend is a computer programmer and custom tatter who works from home. She’s also very much a “dog person” with a large yard and a home in the country. Her personality and lifestyle are very conducive to having the dogs stay with her.

Since they’ll be there for several months, multiple details need to be addressed. Here’s some of what we’ve done so far:

  • Notarized special power of attorney authorizing our friend to make any necessary medical or other decisions concerning our pets.
  • New set of engraved dog tags for the pups with their names, as well as the home and cell phone numbers of our friend. If by chance they wander off while exploring nature in the Maine woods, someone will be able to call and get them back to the right house easily.
  • A bulk supply of our oldest dog’s medicines, plus Xeroxed and scanned copies of the written prescription from their current vet.
  • Doggie medical records.
  • Pet paraphernalia such as leashes, harnesses, kongs, brushes, toys and traction booties.
  • Food, treats and dishes to start off with.
  • Extra credit card with our friend’s name on it authorized for a small amount to handle emergency medical, any necessary online prescription reordering and food replacement. We’ll pay the bill online from the road.
  • Setting aside on T-shirt each to wear each night on the road. We’ll leave these with the dogs as comfort items. The scent should help them feel more secure once we leave. Another friend has also suggested having an extra set of cheap shoes or slippers to leave behind. Apparently, dogs view the shoes as a signal that you’re coming back, and this helps them deal with your absence.
  • We bought several old towels from the Salvation Army to put under doggie dishes, bathe them with, etc. Not only are we using them one the drive across the continent, we’ll also leave them with our friend, so she doesn’t need to put extra wear and tear on her own household linens.
  • Registering dogs in the town they will be visiting for the winter. It happens to be required in this particular town. This may not be an issue for you. It is for us.

In our next pet care posting, we’ll address the issues we’ve been dealing with while doing the hotel scene with the pups, including new behavioral routines, affordable pet-friendly accommodations, etc. Those of you who have been through the long term per care process before, please feel free to post away. If there’s an easier way to do what we’re doing . . . we’d love to hear about it!