A couple of weeks ago, we flew to Memphis for my brother's wedding. Memphis in July is hot with a capital "H," but every place we went was air conditioned, so we survived. It was wonderful to see Greg and Ellen get married, and fun to meet her large family. Of course, I always have to find out who has dogs, and, besides having many new human in-laws, we now have three "dogs-in-law."
First is Ripley, Ellen's aging Airedale terrier. I got to meet Ripley in person, and she's just a sweetie. Greg's lucky to have both Ellen and Ripley.
I don't own a cellphone that takes pictures, but I'm glad so many other people do. That's how I got to "meet" the other dogs-in-law. One was a lovely Weimaraner named Lucy. The other dog was Stella, a six-month old labradoodle. I'm not a fan of the trend toward designer breeds, but the dogs themselves can be wonderful, and Stella is just so darn cute. How could I not fall in love with that face? Seeing dog pictures and meeting Ripley gave me my "dog fix" while I was away from Rhiannon and Gael.
Pictured is Stella, a six-month old labradoodle.
I communicate fairly well with my dogs, and they with me. They let me know when the want to go out, when they want to come in, when (in Gael's case) she wants me to play with her, when it's time for food and when it's time to go to bed. If I want them temporarily out of the way, they respond to my request that they go upstairs or into their crates. They know when I'm happy and when I'm not so pleased.
All of this works well, but there are some things we can't communicate to them, and I can't decide if that's good or bad. While we were in Memphis, the dogs were at the boarding kennel. I'd taken Gael to the kennel for a visit, since she'd never been there before. She was shy with the owner, but the barking dogs didn't bother her a bit.
Anyway, as we got closer to our departure date, I started getting nervous and excited about our trip, and also, I started to already miss the dogs. I'd throw the ball for Gael and think, only two more days before she's at the kennel. Rhiannon slept on the bed those nights before we left, and, although I really didn't need 25 pounds of furry hot water bottle pressed against me, I couldn't bring myself to move her. I just kept thinking that in a few nights, she'd be in a kennel run.
So, in some ways, it was good that I couldn't explain to the dogs that they were to be boarded. They experienced no pre-kennel jitters. They didn't cling to me, or whine or mope, or start worrying about what the kennel would be like. They just enjoyed every day the way they always did, chasing squirrels and chipmunks, begging for treats, chasing balls (Gael) and sleeping snugly (Rhiannon).
On the other hand, I couldn't prepare them for their trip to the boarding kennel. I couldn't say, "Hey, you'll like it. You'll like Larry; he'll give you treats. You'll be happy to be there on the Fourth of July because it's quieter there than here at home and we'll be back in five days. No time at all."
I'm happy to spare them the anticipation, but I really do wish I could explain some things, like the fact that we will return. They always have that pathetic "don't leave me" look, even though I'm pretty sure that five minutes later they are sniffing new smells and begging Larry for a dog biscuit. While I am always greeted enthusiastically when I return to pick them up, I've seen them contentedly roaming the enclosure, so I know they don't sulk in their crates. In reality, I think it's harder on me than it is on them. I know it's not practical to take the dogs with us everywhere, and, in the case of air travel, it's just not always possible. This trip, for instance, the weather would have been too hot, and the airlines wouldn't have permitted them to fly.
So, they spent five days safe and well cared for, even if they missed the comforts of home, and I spent five days missing them. They're home now, none the worse for wear, and Rhiannon is once again curled up on our bed at night.