Paul and I just got home from a 10 day trip to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Zion. The dogs stayed at The Animal Inn at Sky Run, it was the longest time for Melissa to be boarded. When I was leaving the kennel area, I watched Melissa from a distance to see how she settled in. This was her 5th visit to Sky Run. She didn't bother to look up to see where I was going.......she was relaxed and totally engrossed in sniffing her surroundings. Upon my arrival to pick the dogs up yesterday, I once again watched from a distance to see how Melissa was acting. She was calm and relaxed. So how exactly did she get to this stage in her life? Being away from home, being away from Paul and myself. Traveling nearly 200 miles one way to get to Sky Run. Being away from everything familiar...and then switching her mind set to settle into a different environment.
1) As a young pup, Melissa learned to be alone in her crate or ex-pen in familiar surroundings i.e. the house or my van. I then began leaving her with a person Melissa was familiar with for short periods of time in an unfamiliar venue while I moved out of sight. Just a few seconds at first, then for longer periods of time. Gradually I increased the time she was away from me and chose many different places to practice. I use the word practice, because from my way of thinking we are always practicing for whatever life will bring Melissa's way.
2) She has learned that traveling in the car is fun. She has her crate, a thick double sided sheepskin to lie on, something good to chew on. During her last 8 months with us, we have gradually increased the amount of time she travels. She looks forward to going into the car, it means fun times, so there is no stress driving to Sky Run.
3) Melissa is fed her usual rations at Sky Run. I package food in individual bags for each meal. Keeping her on her usual food will prevent her from having any digestive upset which, knock on wood, she has yet to have. She seems to have a cast iron stomach.
4) Having a 4 legged friend stay with her at Sky Run also helps Melissa settle into different environments and get the much needed exercise a young Borzoi needs. She has Lab Lucy, but she has found a new friend at Sky Run, Elvis, a Blue Tick Coonhound. He is only 4 months old, but Melissa and he have quickly bonded. They run the huge field together. Melissa is comfortable being without her housemate due to her earlier practice of being alone and doing activities solo. Elvis is owned by the owners of Sky Run, so Melissa will have a long time dog friend to play with during her future stays.
5) And lastly I chose a boarding facility that offers everything I wanted: big indoor areas for the dogs, large outdoor kennel runs (this visit Lucy and Melissa had an outdoor area that was about 30 ft by 20 ft), and a huge field for them to really get some hard core exercise. Chain link fencing is a minimum of 6 ft, double and triple gates/doors to get to the outside of the kennel area and a staff that is knowledgeable and caring. The last is clearly evident on how my dogs interact with all staff members, leaning against them and getting more pets. The dogs are focused and relaxed. All the dogs maintain weight, in fact, I think Melissa gained weight this visit! No missed meals due to stress for this young girl! It makes our vacation time stress free knowing our dogs are relaxed, comfortable and safe.