Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New option for a dog-gone vacation

If you and your pooch have lived in your present home for a while, you've undoubtedly met pet-owning neighbors while out for a walk.

And sooner or later, this topic always comes up: What do you do with him/her when you go on vacation?

Sometimes you can work out a dog-tending arrangement: Watch mine until next Wednesday and I'll repay the favor.

If nothing else, you could ask for a recommendation for a close-by sitter or kennel they trust.

But even in the best possible situations, dog owners get angst-y about leaving their pets with someone else.

Enter a new website called  DogVacay.

Go to their site -- http://dogvacay.com -- and type in your city if it doesn't pop up automatically.  Add your start and stop dates and see the list of available sitters.

A map lets you scroll around to those who live closer to you (if that's a concern).

Slide bars on the  search page let you select your price range (starting at  $35 per day in our area).

Check-off boxes help refine your search:

* Host's home -- or yours?

* Host home without pets -- or with pets?

* Apartment or house?

* Small, medium or large outdoor area?

There's also a "special skills" option if you have a special-needs dog:

* Certified for pet CPR or first-aid.

* Can administer oral medication?

* Can administer injected medication?

There are roughly 70 sitters ("hosts") available now in the Charlotte area; DogVacay has more than 10,000 nationwide, in roughly 2,500 cities.

Pet-owner reviews of their DogVacay experiences can be posted at each sitter's information page.

Aspiring hosts go through a vetting process with DogVacay, which says successful applicants must be passionate about dogs. There are interviews. References are required. A spokesperson for California-based DogVacay said only 15 percent of host applicants are approved.

DogVacay includes dog insurance; there's also a 24-hour customer service number either you or the sitter can call.

DogVacay takes 15 percent of  the sitting fee.

You make reservations through the DogvVcay site, which also has "Propose a meet-and-greet" and "Ask host a question" options if you want to go the extra step to make sure you've found the sitter you want.