An unwanted canine visitor this summer can stress family or friend relationships. While the dogs who recently visited my residence were fabulous additions to the party, that’s not always the case.
Last weekend, 2 of my dear veterinary friends popped in for a quick overnight. They informed me they’d be bringing 4 children along.
Arriving after a grueling 7-hour traffic-ridden ride up the Northeast corridor, the minivan chugged in, luggage rack atop, and the multiple doors flung open. Never having met some of these children, I waited anxiously to see the first cherubic offspring pop out of the car.
Guests Who Appreciate Space
The first guest out of the car: a Greyhound. OK — I remember something about a rescue Greyhound in the last few years. Second guest: a cattle dog wannabe. Third guest: a golden doodle. Fourth: a bowlegged, wagging little muffin of a Cavalier King Charles. The canine brigade ran and sniffed about in my fields, happy to be alive in rural environs on a beautiful summer evening.
We enjoyed our 4 overnight canine guests immensely, and my dog loved the company. My vet friends were perfect and responsible guests with dogs.
Tips on Visiting With Your Dogs in Tow
Surprise canines are not welcome in every home. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t lose friends or antagonize relatives because Monster, the Great Pyrenees, was an unexpected addition to a summer weekend.
1. Ask Ahead
Explain what kind of dog(s) you have and whether or not they are welcome. My veterinary friends knew they were visiting my home and veterinary hospital in my backyard, so advance notice was not needed. But most people don’t live at a vet hospital.
2. Know Your Dog
Honestly assess your dog’s house manners and feel confident that Buffy will not be a host-slayer but instead a nice houseguest. Is she good with strangers, children, other dogs and cats? Does she listen? Does she bark? Is she 100% house-trained?
3. Pre-Visit Grooming
People not used to dogs really resent dog hair. If you bathe and groom your dog prior to the visit, this will cut down on the comments when the samoyed relaxes on a blue velvet couch or the black Lab stretches out on a white sofa.
4. Scoop the Poop
Don’t arrive, let your dog poop on your host’s grass and then ask them if they have a baggie. My guests had poop bags at the ready when the canine cavalry arrived. Have your own baggie in hand as Cooper the Pooper graces the garden with a package he’s been holding in the car for 5 hours.
5. Bring — Don’t Borrow — Your Dog’s Necessities
It’s equally rude to walk into the kitchen and ask for a water and food bowl so Maddie can immediately chow down upon arrival. Many people have a real problem with dogs eating out of their crockery. To some folks, even automatic dishwashing does not erase the vision of Maddie licking their blue pottery clean. Remember: The world is not crazy over canines the way you are.
Watch these dogs enjoy some wide-open spaces:
Organization Is a Must
Think of bringing a dog for an overnight like bringing a baby.
Remember when your little junior human was 2 years old? You packed the sassy seat, the playpen, the baby food, the diapers, the snuggly, the baby wipes, the toys. Just 1 baby needs a carful of stuff to survive 24 hours.
Dogs are only a bit less complicated. Bring Barney’s dog bed and his crate, if possible. Bring his bowls, his food, a towel for his dirty, wet feet, toys to keep him occupied and treats. If all else fails and Barney isn’t being the most gracious of houseguests, you can crate him — or you might find yourself looking for a hotel that takes pets at the last minute.
My friends had organized their travels with their dogs so well that it prompted me to write this as a gentle reminder to all of you bringing pooches along for the picnic. It was a joy to see our 5 rescues — adopted by us vets because they were behavioral “failures” at something or other — get along well and enjoy their canine companionship.
Happy travels in these upcoming summer months!