Each winter my wife goes to Florida for a few months to paint and bask in the sun. I try to visit her on an occasional weekend, but since the early months of each year are busy for me, I don't get to Florida as often as I would like. It gets kind of lonely for me when my wife is away, but luckily I have my dog to keep me company.
Of course, there are occasions where I have to travel for sales calls or speeches and that can mean staying in some city overnight. When this happens I have a "nanny" who comes in and stays with my Alaskan malamute, Yukon Red. As a matter of fact, this same nanny baby-sits Red during the day while I'm at the office.
When I explain to some people that I have a full-time nanny for Red, they either give me an incredulous look or smile. But then, when I tell those who I call "dog people" about the nanny, they simply nod their heads approvingly. Although he is only 3 years old, I've never kenneled Red and don't intend to ever. Where I go, he goes, because I not only consider him part of our family but also a dear friend. I'm sure you know what I mean.
On the other hand, I do have friends who kennel their animals when they go on vacation. Some of them have had mixed results. Dogs can develop what they call "kennel cough" and can become quite ill if not treated properly. In a more devastating instance, a friend of mine put his Labrador retriever in a kennel for a couple of weeks, and when he and his wife returned from their vacation they were told their dog had died. To be fair, I have other friends who have kenneled their animals and have been quite pleased with the results. I guess it's a matter of how we choose to deal with our pets. We all have different ways of doing things.
Nevertheless, a recent survey released by the American Animal Hospital Association illustrates how far pets have come in terms of how their owners feel about them. The seventh annual survey of 1,225 pet owners in the U.S. and Canada turned up some surprising results. For instance, 76% of pet owners say they feel guilty about leaving their pets home alone. Furthermore, 48% admitted they stayed home more often because of their pets. That statistic doesn't surprise me because my wife and I many times will veto a Saturday night out because we enjoy being home with Red.
Other survey results show 41% of pet owners like taking their pets with them on vacation. Another 24% say they take their pets to work. Six percent have even included their pet in their wedding or honeymoon. Thirty-eight percent say when they are away from home and someone else is caring for their pet, they call home so the pet can hear their voice. Sixty-one percent include their pets in their holiday celebrations, and 18% have actually included their pets in their wills. Forty-six percent say they give their pets extra attention as the animals age, and 50% say they leave toys out for their pets when they are gone. Finally, 57% of respondents say they would choose to be a dog if they were a pet, and 33% would want to be a cat.
So, after reading these survey results, I don't feel the least bit odd about having a full-time nanny for my buddy, Yukon Red. Even though it's an expensive proposition, I feel more at ease knowing someone is looking after my dog when I'm at the office or traveling. There are few pleasures in life that equal the love and companionship of a pet, and if you're lucky enough to experience that relationship, you are blessed indeed.
Have a great year,
Charles S. Lauer