As you read this post, I'm currently in Europe, doing the "epic Europe trip" with my sisters and husband that we've envisioned for years. However, as any basenji owner knows, planning a trip also means lots of stress over figuring out who will watch the pups while you're gone. Some of us are lucky enough to have family nearby who can watch their fur-kids, but some of us must resort to either using a sitter, boarding the dogs, or asking family from afar to come and house-sit.
For me, finding a sitter is always a difficult process, because my basenjis (like many basenjis) don't always play well with others, so boarding them or bringing them to a dog-sitter's house are not options. That means that I am left with finding someone to come to my house and watch the dogs, which can be VERY expensive if I need to pay someone, or bringing them to my parents' house six hours away in Pittsburgh. Tough options!
Thankfully, I am occasionally able to convince some family members to drive in from afar and stay at my house with my pups. This week, my beloved Aunt Eve has graciously driven from 2 hours away to spend the week at my house with my mischievous little ones. I can't even begin to say how grateful I am for her help this week, as I'm sure other basenji owners understand that there are only a few people who really "have what it takes" to dog-sit a basenji. With basenjis, much more than with other dogs, there is always a constant risk of escape and/or couch-eating, so it's essential that I find someone who is detail-oriented enough to ALWAYS be mindful of the doors and to ALWAYS know where the dogs are (because if you don't know where they are, they're probably getting into trouble!). Of course, I also leave a set of very detailed instructions that explain exactly how to set up the gates when you leave the house, exactly how to allow the dogs to hop up in bed at night so there's not a fight (see Mandy Hazen's post on "The Great Wall of Me" for an explanation of why this is important), etc. Sometimes I think that with the amount of instructions it takes to keep a basenji safe, caring for a small child might be easier!
But, in the end, it's worth the effort to find a trustworthy sitter, for the peace of mind I have while I'm away. I know that right now, my aunt is probably sitting outside in my backyard with my two pups, while they laze in the sun like they do every day, and they happily snuggle up to her at night, comfortable in their own home with a human who loves them. Knowing that my pups are safe helps me to be able to not worry about them and have a better time while I'm on vacation, as I can only hope that I'm having right now. Prost!