Traveling with (Or without) Your Boston
- Packing necessary supplies for the journey
- Keeping your dog safe while traveling
- Choosing a long- or short-term boarding facility
- Knowing what to look for in a pet sitter
With his relatively small size and gentlemanly demeanor, your Boston Terrier makes an ideal travel companion. He’ll happily sit shotgun (safely restrained by a seat belt, of course!) as you motor to the store. He’ll be your companion during spontaneous weekend getaways. He’ll even fly the skies with you, too, content in his travel carrier.
Preparing for the Journey
If you’re traveling far from home and staying in a hotel or at a relative’s house, purchase some inexpensive disposable tags and list the hotel or relative’s phone number, as well as your cellphone number. It’s good insurance, just in case.
Keep in mind that it can take some time for the person who recovered your dog to find a veterinarian or shelter with a microchip scanner, contact the registry to get your phone number, and call you. And those hours and days when your Boston is missing can seem like a lifetime!
The right carrier for the trip
– Crates: Like the hard-sided plastic kennel that you used to housetrain your Boston, a crate keeps your dog safe and confined in case of an accident. With its solid sides, the crate prevents your dog from flying out a window or being crushed. Soft-sided crates often feature steel or aluminum frames that offer some protection, but their greatest asset is that you can fold them down for easy storage.
– Travel carriers: Made rigid with plastic frames, soft-sided carriers make traveling with your Boston relatively easy. They resemble gym bags with ventilated sides, but they are designed to carry your 20-pound pup safely on short journeys to the pet store, veterinarian, or Grandma’s house. Some include built-in removable casters for easy wheeling and pockets for storing pickup bags and treats.
– Car seats: Framed with rigid plastic or metal and lined with fleece, faux sheepskin, or canvas, canine car seats keep your pup secure while allowing him to look out the window. Most resemble a miniature dog bed with upright sides that keep your pup both contained and comfortable on the road. If you’re thinking about buying one of these, make sure that it has a seatbelt slot and a place to connect a harness or other restraint.
You may have seen dog beds and booster seats designed for use in cars. They look stylish and comfy for your Boston, but avoid them. Many don’t restrain your dog in any way, and if you have to stop or turn your car quickly, your pup can be sent flying and possibly get hurt. Instead, invest in a quality travel carrier with a cushy liner or a dog car seat with harness attachment, and buckle him in.
– Seatbelt harness: Your Boston wears a harness around his torso (see Figure 13-1; check out Chapter Preparing for Your Boston’s Homecoming for more details about harnesses). You can restrain your Boston in the car by connecting the harness to a seat belt. Some harnesses come with a seatbelt latch built in.
Pack your Boston’s bags
Any responsible parent keeps a bag of her child’s belongings ready to go. Likewise, as a pet parent, you should keep a bag of dog necessities handy when you travel with your Boston. You never know when you’ll need a bowl for some water, the first-aid kit in case of a bee sting, or a treat for a well-behaved pup!
- Extra leash and collar with ID tags already attached
- Enough food to last for the journey
- Bottled water
- Two portable bowls (one for water, one for food)
- Grooming supplies, including toothbrush and toothpaste, brush, shampoo, and nail clippers
- Extra crate pads
- Pickup bags
- Portable first-aid kit
- Some favorite chew toys
- His favorite bedding
- A jacket or sweater if it will be cold
- Important veterinary files, including health and vaccination records
Hitting the Road
Introducing the car
Before you even think about taking your Boston on the road, you need to introduce him to the idea of riding in a car. That big metallic beast with the growling motor may intimidate your Boston puppy, and if he’s not slowly familiarized with it, he can develop a fear that’s hard to shake.
Your Boston is an intelligent dog. If you just drive him to the veterinarian for checkups and shots, he’ll connect the car with a negative experience. Take your Boston on pleasant trips as often as possible so he associates driving with fun. Excursions to dog parks, lakes, shopping centers, and friends’ houses not only give your dog reasons to love to travel, but they also help to socialize him (read more about socializing your pup in Chapter Socializing for Life).
Driving in style
When you arrive at your destination, don’t leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle, no matter what the weather is. In as little as 15 minutes, the temperature in an automobile can rise to scorching levels, and your dog can suffer a heat stroke that can lead to brain damage or death. If you must leave your pup in the car, designate a responsible family member to stay with your Boston.
If you use a seatbelt harness and your dog has access to an open window, do not let him stick his head out. His large prominent eyes can be easily scratched or otherwise damaged by dust, rocks, sand, or salt pieces whizzing by.
If possible, don’t let your dog ride in a seat with an airbag. The force with which the airbag deploys can injure your dog, just as it would injure a child.
– Vet check: Before you leave, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to be sure that your dog is healthy and ready for travel. Tell your vet where you’re going, and ask him if your pooch will need additional vaccinations or preventive medication before you leave. If you live in a colder climate and you’re driving to Florida during the winter, for example, you may need to apply some flea-and-tick repellant to your Boston.
– Find dog-friendly lodging: As you’re planning your itinerary, you need to find hotels that accept dogs. Because of the rise in pet popularity, more hotels than ever welcome dogs, but they typically require an additional deposit to cover the cost of cleaning.
When you’re at the hotel, treat it as if it were your home: Pick up messes your dog leaves behind, clean up any accidents, and don’t let him bark. Keep him off the bed or bring a sheet to put down before he lays on the bed. Many dog-friendly hotels don’t allow you to leave the dog unattended in the room, but you can put him in his crate if you go out to dinner or take a shower. Respect the rules so other dog-owning patrons can enjoy bunking with their pets, too.
At campgrounds, follow the same manners with your dog. Just because you’re out in the wilderness doesn’t mean your dog can run loose! Keep him on his leash at all times and don’t let him bark.
– Identify appropriate rest areas: Map out your journey to make sure you can stop at places where your Boston can get out and stretch his legs. As you travel, stop every few hours to let your dog exercise and relieve himself. Though many rest stops have designated pet areas, these patches may be flea infested and frequented by unvaccinated dogs. Old, spoiled food may be laying around, and stagnant water may be diseaseridden. Instead, choose clean areas and pick up your Boston’s messes. Offer your Boston water from a portable dish whenever you stop.
If your Boston tends to get motion sickness, avoid feeding him just before and during the car ride. Long trips may require that you feed him, but plan the meals so he has adequate time to digest the food before you hit the road again.
Flying the Skies
– Government agency and vet check: First, check with the necessary government agency (usually the Department of Agriculture) for specifics about what documentation your Boston will need at your destination location. Fill out any paperwork and turn it in well before the deadline.
A veterinarian will need to examine your Boston and give you a signed health certificate no more than 10 days before your departure. That appointment gives you the opportunity to tell your veterinarian where you’re going and ask about any special vaccinations your Boston may require.
– Talk to an airline representative: When you make your flight reservation, notify the airline representative that you’ll be bringing a live animal onboard. She will ask the dog’s size and weight, and tell you what size carrier your Boston will need. If you already have a carrier, have the brand and dimensions available so you can check them with the representative. She will also tell you what documentation you’ll need to present to the ticketing agent at the airport. Be prepared and gather these papers well in advance. Ask her, too, where you can pick up your pup at your destination.
Airlines typically charge for transporting pets; the price varies between companies. When you make your reservations, ask the representative how much they charge and when you will be required to pay. Many times, they collect the fee when you check in your pup at the ticket counter.
– Prepare your dog’s travel crate: Federal law requires absorbent bedding on the bottom of the crate. You must also provide food and water dishes that are attached to the inside of the crate’s wire door.
Fill one of the dishes with water and pop it in the freezer the night before you leave. Just before you head out, place the frozen dish inside the crate. The ice will melt slowly, providing water for your pup and preventing spillage during flight. Tape a small bag of food to the top of the crate with feeding instructions in case of delays.
– Gather your Boston’s belongings: Just as you pack your own bag, pack your Boston’s bag, too (see the “Pack your Boston’s bags” section earlier in this chapter). Remember any medication, toys, plenty of food, treats, an extra leash, and favorite bedding. Put all your contact info on this bag, too, just as you do for your own suitcase. Make sure that your Boston is wearing a collar with an updated ID tag listing your cellphone number and destination telephone number.
– Before-flight fasting and relieving: Before you leave for the airport, exercise your Boston as much as possible so he can relieve himself completely before the flight. Do not feed him for six hours before the plane departs; most airlines give specific recommendations for fasting before the flight.
– Arrive early: Get to the airport at least two hours before your plane is scheduled to leave. At the ticket counter, present the agent with the necessary paperwork and payment for transporting your Boston. She will process the paperwork, put a “live animal” sticker on the crate, sneak a peak at your dog, and check him in. Double-check with her where you’ll pick up your Boston when you arrive. After you land at your destination, gather your bags, and then pick up your pup. Have the required documentation handy to show the airline representative.
Leaving Your Boston Behind
You won’t always be able to travel with your Boston, no matter how fun it is. Long meetings, business trips, sick relatives, or a range of other circumstances may require you to leave your dog behind for the day, a few days, or longer. In these situations, you’ll need to drop your Boston off at doggy day care, board him in a kennel, or hire a dog sitter.
Short- and long-term boarding
Besides asking your veterinarian, breeder, or dog-owning friends for boarding recommendations, you can visit the American Boarding Kennels Association’s Web site (www.abka.com) and search its database for an ABKA-accredited facility.
Doggy day care
– Focused attention by experienced staff members: Many daycare employees are skilled in handling and training dogs. Ask the facility manager if you’re curious about the employees’ credentials.
– Socialization with other humans and dogs: Meeting and playing with other dogs and humans is essential in your dog’s mental and physical development. Daycare facilities provide a fantastic opportunity to interact with a range of personalities and breeds.
– Plenty of free time to run around outside and expend pentup energy: After enjoying the playground equipment, open fields, and other canine carousers, your Boston will sleep like a baby when he comes home from doggy day care!
– Opportunities to swim and try agility or other games to keep his curious mind stimulated: You may not have room in your backyard for playground or agility equipment, so visiting a doggy day care is a great way to introduce your Boston to these fun activities. Some day cares host agility and behavior training classes; talk to the facility manger for details.
– Quiet time in a kennel for napping or playing with his favorite toy: Most dog daycare facilities have individual kennels or runs for dogs who want to have some space. They’re perfect for naptime or if your Boston needs a timeout.
– Assurance that your Boston will be cared for while you’re away: Knowing that your dog will be fed, cleaned up after, played with, and safeguarded while you’re away assures that you’ll have a pleasant trip — and a happy, healthy dog when you come home.
– Socialization with other humans and dogs: Though your pup may not interact with other people or canines as much as he would at a dog daycare facility, he’ll be exposed to other dogs during playtime and walks.
– Attention from skilled kennel staff: Because many kennels are affiliated with a veterinary clinic or hospital, your Boston will get quality care while in the facility. If he falls ill or injures himself, he’ll have fast access to veterinary care.
– Access to grooming services: Many kennels offer grooming services while the dogs are being boarded. Schedule a bath, toenail trim, tooth brushing, and flea bath while he’s there, and you’ll bring home a dog who smells and looks great — and is delighted to see you!
Screening the facilities
– What hours are you open? When can my dog be dropped off and picked up? Some daycare facilities are open during normal business hours, so you’ll have to pick up your pooch at a reasonable hour after work. Likewise, some kennels close at the end of the day and may restrict when you can drop off and pick up your dog.
– Is the kennel supervised 24 hours in case of emergency? Even if you can’t drop off and pick up your dog at just any time of day, you should choose a kennel that has supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case of fire or some other emergency.
– What vaccinations do you require the dogs to have? Most kennels and daycare facilities require you to provide up-todate vaccination records to prove that your Boston has been vaccinated against rabies, distemper, and parvo in the past 12 months. Other kennels require a bordetella vaccine within six months of boarding.
– Are incoming dogs screened for fleas, ticks, and other parasites? Some kennels require that your dog be on a flea-and-tick preventive. If he’s not, they may be able to apply one for you.
– Is a veterinarian on call in case of emergency? Reputable facilities will have a veterinarian on call or even on site. If they don’t, ask about their protocol if a medical emergency occurs.
– What experience do you require your staff to have? Do they know dog first aid? CPR? At least one staff member who has experience administering canine first aid should be on the clock. You want to make sure your Boston is in capable hands if something happens.
– How large are the kennels? Are they cleaned several times a day? When you tour the facility, make note of the cleanliness of the kennels, the common areas, and the overall grounds. You should see little or no fecal waste and detect very little smell. The kennels should be large enough for your dog to feel comfortable.
– How often are the dogs fed? Watered? Again, take note of the water bowls in the kennels and common areas as you tour the facility. The dogs should have access to clean, fresh water at all times.
– Can I bring my own food, treats, and toys? Is bedding provided, or can I bring my own? A change in diet can cause diarrhea in some dogs, so being able to keep your pup on his regular diet is a must. Bringing your dog’s favorite toys and bedding will help him feel comfortable in the unfamiliar setting. Some dog daycare facilities, however, do not allow toys from home to avoid dominance conflicts.
– Will someone walk my dog every day? Is there a fee for this service? Getting out of the kennel will brighten your Boston’s day and burn up some extra energy.
– Do you offer any grooming services? If so, take advantage of them! There’s nothing better than picking up a clean dog who’s absolutely delighted to see you!
The daycare or kennel representative should take as much time as necessary to answer these questions and give you a thorough tour of the facility. If she is curt or hurried in any way, move on. You don’t want to leave your Boston in the care of someone whom you don’t trust 100 percent.
Hiring a pet sitter
Finding someone reliable who is willing to stay with your dog or drop in on him several times during the day while you’re away can be a better alternative than boarding your Boston in a kennel. He’ll get to stay home with familiar smells and sounds. He’ll have access to all his favorite toys and bedding. He won’t be exposed to kennel cough or fleas. Plus, he may get some extra attention — and treats — from his favorite auntie or Grandma!
Leaving information behind
Even though the daycare facility, boarding kennel, or dog sitter may have plenty of experience with dogs, the caregiver doesn’t know your dog and his idiosyncrasies.
A detailed list of instructions gives your dog sitter or care provider a guide to feeding, exercising, and caring for your Boston while you’re away. If your dog requires any special needs, jot those down, too, so the person can refer to it if necessary.
As you compose your list, use these suggestions to get started:
By writing down this information and these instructions, you provide your caregiver with everything she needs to tend to your Boston’s every want. It will help you and your dog better deal with the time that you are away.
– Do you belong to a professional pet-sitting organization, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters? Your candidate doesn’t necessarily have to belong, but members of groups like these have met basic handling standards set by the organization.
– Do you have references? Confident pet sitters will happily provide you a list of satisfied clients. Call the references and ask if they would hire the pet sitter again.
– Are you insured and bonded? Ask to see proof of commercial liability insurance and ask exactly what coverage it provides.
– How long have you been working as a pet sitter? Have you ever dog-sat a Boston? A top candidate should have some experience caring for small dogs, ideally a Boston.
– What experience do you have with medical care? Do you know canine CPR? First aid? If your dog has an emergency, this person should be able to provide or obtain emergency care and treatment.
– When will you come to my home? How long will you stay? Your candidate should come at least twice a day to feed and check on your dog. She should also spend some time with him playing fetch, taking a walk, or just hanging out and watching television.
When you find a quality pet sitter, hold on to her! Notify her well in advance of trips so she can block off the time. Invite her to your home while you’re there so she can bond with your Boston before you leave. She will be caring for your baby during your trip, so prepare everything she’ll need to make her job easy — and fun!
by Wendy Bedwell-Wilson