Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Selecting a Kennel

We recently had occasion where we had to go out of town and no family members were available to sit with our boys, so we had no option but to put them in a kennel.
Now I thought I did my research - I looked up kennels in our area on the internet and thought I had found a good one. I checked the website of the kennel to see their facilities, I searched for good and bad reviews, and I talked to people in my vets office. We also had friends who left their Daschund and Jack Terrier there and were very happy with the treatment they received.
The bonus with this kennel is that it was close to home. I found their site on the internet and was impressed by the tiled cubicles for small dogs. When I talked to the staff at the vets office who said they heard that this kennel was now under new management (and I too had seen the sign when I passed by it) and that people were starting to bring their dogs back (apparently they had a bad reputation before but no one would commit to saying why). I was told people were now commenting on how well this kennel was run and their business was growing. Sounds good, right?
So, armed with bedding, treats, toys and food, I took my boys to the kennel. I was greeted by the staff and they took the stuff for the boys and, lastly, our lovable little dogs were taken as well. I stressed over and over, on the phone and in person, that I didn't want them in contact with big dogs. Little dogs were fine, but not big ones. I was assured over and over that they would not be around the large dogs.
We had given the kennel the approximate time we would return and were about an hour late. I walked into the office and the staff member immediately went into the kennel area to let the dogs out of their chain link enclosure. Right there my mind started working - why were they in a chain link area where the large dogs were kept when on the web site the small dogs were shown in a tiled area with little white walled cubicles?
The staff member processing my debit card seemed quite friendly so I decided to probe a bit. I asked how the dogs were? Were they well behaved around other dogs? Oh yes, he said...they had no problem in the common area. Then he started yapping and I could feel the blood rushing to my head. I could see the enclosure they came from was chain link on all sides but the far wall. He told us that he put two German Shepherd dogs in the space next to our dogs. According to him, German Shepherds are very competitive when it comes to food and he said he had to separate these two when it was feeding time because they would fight with each other over any food item. He then told me they were going crazy one night because our dogs were chewing on little pig ears and the Shepherds wanted them. He said our dogs were really good: they stayed in one spot, stared straight ahead and chewed their treats while the Shepherd was pawing at the chain link. All I could think of was "of course they were chewing like robots - they were scared out of their wits!" I know my little guys - they chew, they look around, they chew some more. Now when they are nervous, they chew like robots. And that is what he described. I said "why were German Shepherds next to my dogs?" He kind of brushed it off like it was nothing and never really answered the question. There was something not right going on. He told me that he actually ended up putting a blanket over the chain link so the Shepherds couldn't see my dogs. What kind of kennel is this?
We ended up having to go on another trip and I had already pre-booked my boys with this kennel when we first brought them, but I couldn't even sleep at night thinking we had to take them back. So I started looking up other kennels and calling to see what kind of facilities they had. I found one that had solid walls between the kennels so I told the owner of that kennel what my dogs had gone through with the chain link fencing. He was quite sympathetic but also worried that my dogs got peed on. You know, I wondered why they were freshly bathed when I picked them up because I didn't order nor did I pay for a bathing. I started feeling even worse about where I had left them before, but I now have found a new kennel where the dogs are fed, provided with beds, given toys, bathed after a week, in a secure enclosure with three solid walls, and their only neighbors were a Chihuahua and another Shih-Tzu.
So the moral of this story is please check out the kennel yourself. Insist on seeing the area they will be in. Do not rely solely on other people's not rely on pictures from their website. As I discovered, there was no tiled area with cubicles for small dogs in the one kennel. The small dogs were placed with the big ones.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Boys Visit the Veterinarian

It's that time of year when the boys need their shots so we make a quick trip to the vet.

Bruiser had been having some trouble with his ear - scratching it, repeatedly licking his paw and shaking his head - so I asked the vet to look at it. It turns out he has another ear infection. I can't figure out how or why he keeps getting them and Rocki never does, but now we have antibiotics and drops for him and it appears to be clearing up.

Rocki has been skittering around on his bum, so the vet had his anal sac squeezed and he seems to be okay now.

All in all, aside from the $380 bill, it was a good trip. They're both healthy and are at a proper weight. We have a follow up visit to ensure that Bruiser's ear infection clears up, but he seems to be doing much better than he was.

The vet has been asking if I will be neutering them. I said I would shortly but I'm the one who is squeamish about it. But apparently neutering them avoids many health related issues such as testicular cancer so I should do more than think about it and actually get an appointment for them. Apparently, if they are not neutered, the vet told me they can go from best friends to rivals that snarl and fight with each other so that's another issue to consider.