Friday, January 4, 2008

a home away from home

Everytime we go away on vacation, we are faced with the dreaded task of finding a dogsitter for Nikita. We dread it because we feel guilty that we are abandoning our dog and, in finding the best possible accommodations for our dog, we feel that we are putting people out. We are truly indebted to all our friends and family who have opened their homes to Nikita.

Over the holidays, we had arranged for friends to dogsit for us while we were gone to Toronto. Unfortunately, the plans fell through and we had find alternate arrangements in less than a week. A couple of co-workers recommended Richmond Animal Hospital. Brian and I were reluctant because we've never left Nikita at a kennel before. Alas, we had no other choice and I felt very comfortable that the referrals were good. We were lucky because RAH had a recent cancellation and were able to accommodate Nikita.

A couple of days before we boarded her, we took Nikita to RAH for what they called a mandatory "stress" test. It was a 4-hour trial period to see how she would do there. She passed with flying colours. They had no concerns at all with keeping Nikita there.

After the stress test, we were taken on a tour of the facility. It was much different from what I imagined. It was very clean and the dogs stayed in luxuriously large pens. They recommend not bringing blankets or toys (as they couldn't guarantee that it would go home with Nikita) but they were OK with us bringing Nikita's big ass dog bed from Costco. There was a large, fenced outdoor area, so we were comfortable that Nikita would get her fair share of exercise. The staff were friendly and seemed very kind to the animals. We felt relieved that we found a good place for Nikita to stay.

Of course, tears were shed the day we had to drop her off. It was heart-wrenching for me to leave her in a strange place, with unfamiliar people, even though I knew everyone would be good to her. She is such a people dog and she would be spending the majority of the next 9 days with dogs. Ugh. Please don't pick up any bad habits from other dogs. And please be the exact same dog when we pick you up.

The day we picked her up, we were suppose to wait until after 4pm because we asked them to bathe her and clip her nails. At 8:30am, we called RAH and told them to forget the bath. We were coming to pick her up now!

The reunion was a typical Nikita push-you-down-over-excited reunion. We loved it. She looked great, smelled great (despite not having a bath) and was in very good spirits. RAH had treated her well.

So, this blog posting is mostly to recommend Richmond Animal Hospital the next time you are looking for a kennel for your dog. In Nikita's 2 1/2 years, she has never stayed at a kennel before, and we would not hesitate to bring her back there again. Thanks RAH, for taking care of our girl.

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