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  • When the grand dogs come to stay

    It’s always an interesting experience when dogs come to stay if you have a dog of your own. 

    Will they get along together or will WW3 break out at any given time for no particular reason? How will feeding time go when you have three dogs to cater for, all of whom give you the idea that they have not been fed for days?

    We have our two grand dogs staying currently on a nine-day planned visit. Fortunately, they have stayed before so they know the “lie of the land”. But each visit has its own quirks. Firstly, all the dogs are older than they were on their last stay with us (thank you Captain Obvious I hear you say), but this is particularly relevant for one of our guests who is “getting up there” in age. Has age taken a toll on her tolerance? Is she able to move as freely as she could a while ago or is arthritis setting in which might make her more irritable? Will she be able to control her bladder/ bowels for the duration of the night? The age-related concerns seem endless.

    The other guest is at the younger end of the age spectrum. Not yet two years old, she is energy personified! Fortunately, we have a reasonably large back yard so, blessed with half decent weather, this has been her play area during the day. However, being a puppy still, she still needs frequent naps so we are being mindful of that.

    We have found over the years that the first couple of nights are always somewhat of a crap shoot as to what to expect. Will we be blessed with being able to sleep or can we expect interruptions to our sleep because of crying puppies or dogs howling as they are disorientated and missing their mom and dad? Even if we are able to sleep, what time in the morning are the dogs used to waking up? In case you’re wondering, it was 5am. What will we wake up to: a clean “bedroom” or will there be “accidents” to clear up? And yes, masks and disposable gloves came in handy.

    How is Finn coping with these “strange” dogs in his house, particularly as he himself is going through some medical challenges at the moment? Fortunately, Finn is very accepting of other dogs, particularly those he has met before. Cognisant of his likes and dislikes and of his assumed ownership of dad’s lap, we are keeping a close eye on the dynamics of how the three of them interact.

    The reason for all this rambling is to make the point that whenever dogs come to stay, it affects everyone, humans and dogs alike. The visiting dogs are thrust into an environment that is different than what they are used to. This itself can be stressful for the dogs. Not only do they need to adapt to their new “home” but the humans need to learn the dogs’ mannerisms and their body language to avoid miscommunication and accidents. Do your homework on your canine visitors and prepare/ protect your home from potential accidents, wherever possible. If practical, visit with the dogs prior to their stay so you are less of a stranger to them when they do arrive for their visit. Establish with their owners what they like and dislike, when are their feeding times and have the owners bring enough of their regular food for the duration of the stay. Do NOT feed your own dog’s food to your visitors as dogs’ stomachs can be sensitive to a sudden change of diet. Also, it’s always best to get agreement with the dogs’ owners, in the event of needing to pay a visit to the vet clinic, as to what is the maximum amount you are allowed to spend. 

    However, to me, the most important thing for all concerned is to be flexible, expect the unexpected, treat all the dogs fairly and enjoy getting to know your visitors.