Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Boarding My Dog -- Interviewing Kennelmeisters

There's big business in boarding dogs. You wouldn't think it was so. You'd think nearly everyone would have relatives to leave them with, cutting out the middleman so often that the middleman couldn't make it. That's the way it's been for me all these years.

Frankly, I'm not sure my relatives are as "busy" as they say they are or if they're just sick of my dog. Underbrush, being 14 years old, is a lot more to handle than she used to be. All the coughing -- congestive heart failure or maybe just something wrong with her throat -- can be a lot to handle. I have some pills for her but she hates to take them. You need about a pound of hamburger, then if you embed it just right, with a leaf of parsley camouflage, she'll get it down without eating all the meat and spitting it out.

Whatever the case with the relatives, I was left with no option but to take her to one of these boarding places. Which means, you know, a slight trouble with trust on my part. I want my old baby to have the best. And if one of these guys turned out to be a Nazi, I'd never forgive myself.

One of the worst ones I saw was in the country. Two big buildings, lined with cages for the dogs. What immediately jumped out at me was the terrible noise. When I went in the dogs went ballistic barking, literally raising the roof and perhaps moving the place slightly off its foundation. Like I've said before, Underbrush is virtually deaf in her old age, but this was ridiculous. It's Death Row waiting to happen!

Most of the others looked much more humane, being part of veterinarian clinics. Of course there's was no sign of hominess. Stainless steel grates on the cages, mass-produced chew toys, not a table scrap in sight.

I really took my time, interviewing the kennelmeisters who happened to be on site. (And several weren't, some of these being corporate veterinarian clinics, where the Big Man is in a metropolitan office somewhere and the Underlings are the boys in charge. Those I eliminated.)

I found one kennelmeister who looked sort of like me, with the same nervous looking demeanor. We shook hands tentatively, which made me feel comfortable. Both of us sat in chairs, a nice touch. I could tell this might be the place. Then we got down to brass tacks, me broaching some of my concerns. He was easily able to smooth my ruffled feathers, giving me various assurances -- and in a soothing voice -- that the various dogs who come through their door are treated well.

One of my biggest concerns was whether the dogs were provided with fresh water on a daily basis. Had he not been a kennelmeister, he probably could've been a psychologist. We clicked just like that. He saw my concern, and instead of replying with mere words, he took me back to the kennel area and showed me several clean bowls by the sink, just waiting to be filled and put in the cages as needed.

Given the opportunity, I glanced in a few cages and saw the water looking fresh, like the flowing water I see in commercials for the Rocky Mountains. This was the place! We shook on it! And that's where Underbrush will be going when I go out of town tomorrow. (She actually has to go tonight, because I need to leave early in the morning before the vet's office opens.)

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