Reminder: The selected responses presented below are a reflection of the collaborative effort of Hybrid Wolf Mailing List aka. Wolfdoglist members to share opinions / information about wolf x dogs, responsible "ownership" and breeding practices. This FAQ is not a scientific or veterinary resource. Some responses have been edited for brevity.
Wolfdog FAQ - Question # 20
How do wolfdog 'owners' manage to go on vacation?
We had a couple of people who we TRUSTED come over a lot and develop a relationship with her as well as the rest of the zoo and when we went anywhere they would house sit for us. Once we got our unsocialized, scardy cat rescue the situation became more limited.
But in the beginning we had someone who first wasn't intimidated by a rather large "dog". They knew what she was and had to spend time with us and her so that there was a bond and an acceptance by her so that in cases of emergency or if she got out that she would respond to them.
We always left detailed instructions, like feeding time who could eat in the same room with who, what to feed, when etc. Always emergency numbers to call and numbers where we could be reached, although I was calling all the time. Instructions also included perimeter checking, making sure it was done daily more than once to insure no potential dig out location or dig in, gates secured etc. A credit card left available just in case. Can't think much of anything else - it's been awhile.
Vacation? What's that?! ...
We manage to go on vacation every now and then, maybe once a year if we are lucky. Although, the past three years we have been unable to go.
We have "trained" two people that we trust very well on how to care for our animals, what to do if one needs a vet, they know how to repair fences, run hot wire, what to do in the event that (spirits forbid) one or more of the animals gets out of their enclosure, and most importantly how to handle our animals. We chose to train two people just incase one is not going to be available during the time we plan to be gone. Our caretakers are also willing to spend 3 to 4 hours A DAY with our animals, not just feed, water, clean poop and leave.
From the time we bring our puppies home, these two people are involved heavily with them. They come over many times during each week to bond with them and get to know each indiviual animals personality. And they hold their own place in our pack. It's difficult for us to be able to leave for more than a few days at a time. To be gone a full week is stressful, not only for us, but for the animals too.
We don't go on vacation when we have puppies, however. This is
the reason for not going on vacation the past three years. This
time is such an important time in the puppies life of bonding,
socialization, establishing pack order, etc... While our caretakers
are very competent in taking care of our animals when they are
older, I think that in the event of a puppy temper tantrum, they
might be in over their heads. Who knows how they would react to
the vicious looking and sounding, snarling, and growling 10 lbs. of
puppy snapping their teeth millimeters in front of their noses.
We are also fortunate to live in a neighborhood that love our babies, so they keep watch of the house during the day and night and are given numbers to contact our caretakers should something happen.
So, while vacation is possible, it doesn't happen very often. This does not bother us, since that was a sacrifice we were willing to take when we brought these animals home with us.
Well being the Nakai pack are not mine but I'm very involved in their life, what has been done here is either me or another lady stays over at the house and takes care of the pack while our friends are on vacation.
None of the animals can go with them, except for the 2 dogs. One female wolfdog rides ok, one does not, gets sick out of both ends, and the boys are just too big and wolfie to go, they would attract all sorts of attention... if your going to do this, you need back up help, people the animals love and trust.
We left home back in '92 for almost 48 hrs to attend a wolf meet up in TN. Had a heck of a phone bill checking with our older son to see how the woofers were doing.
Do it once a year now for about 36 hrs to go on the world's longest yard sale in August and again, we tear the phone bill up.
36 hrs is all we can pull off. We just don't see anyway to be gone any longer than that.
The boys can enter most of the pens here without any fear of problems what so ever but there are 2 that they can't. They can water both from the outside and can throw fresh meat over to the animals in these pens but the absolutely *cannot* enter these pens. The males won't let them.
Beyond that, there is always the fear of "What if?": "What if" they decide to get out? "What if" one of the alpha's manages to get into the next pen? "What if" one of the guys gets sick? "What if" one of the boys has to be gone for too long? "What if?"
Ya'll get the idea.
At W.O.L.F., when Pat and Frank have to leave town, we have a core of very trusted and seasoned volunteers who simply move in to the house and take over. Works like a charm but requires LOTS of planning in advance.
The advance planning entails getting trusted and experienced volunteers scheduled to move in and operate the facility during the absence, and so a commitment must be obtained from the volunteer(s) months in advance so that the calendar can be set. Ideally, one volunteer can stay throughout the absence, but occasionally an alternating schedule must be set up.
The volunteers, of course, must be experienced with all facets of the operation and fortunately there are several long term folks who are ready and willing to do this. There also has to be someone available on a moment's notice to sign checks and dispense funds in the event of an emergency. However, that necessity is not as important now as in the past since we have three veterinarians on the Board and have a charge account with the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (Colorado State University), which maintains a 24-hour emergency department.
Best wishes, Z. G. Standing Bear
W.O.L.F. (Wolves Offered Life and Friendship), a rescue and educational facility.
Vacations are often non existent for people who have wolfdogs. You must sometimes be able and willing to pay quite a large boarding bill (twice I paid $700.00 for a week away from home).
Sometimes if you are very lucky you may find some one who knows your animals and routine with them that your animals trust to stay at your house or come by every day to care for them.
Even then rest assured you are not going to sleep to well worrying about your babies. I think it is really best if you can find some one like this to check up often and give lots of treats and attention so your animals can stay in their own home while you are away.
If you have to board by all means know well the place you are leaving them and how they really feel about your animals. The wrong place can traumatize beyond repair and could even cost you to lose your animal.
About boarding at a kennel: If you can, sometime before your vacation comes around, take them to the kennel for the day. If you can swing it financially, leave them there overnight, or for two nights. Do this once or twice before you really leave. This way their stress over being left there is lessened.
Point to consider too if you board them at a kennel is what the actual pens are like there, and their daily routine. Some boarding kennels have runs which do not have tops on the pens. Not a problem for many dogs, but for most wolfdogs, can be life threatening when they escape. Floors are usually cement, so digouts are not a problem, but some kennels, especially smaller ones, may have dirt floors. Will digouts be a problem? As for routine, do they take the dogs out to be exercised during the day? How contained is the exercise area? Is there a chance your baby will decide to go over and out and keep right on going?
A nice thing to do if you can, if you must board your wolfdog at a strange place, is to leave them some favorite toys, etc., but also something with your scent on it such as a sweatshirt or t-shirt. When you leave them there say the same thing you say when you leave the house in the morning, like "okay see you later", and don't make a big deal when you leave. Try not to make a huge deal when you come back either, though this is a tough one for most of us.
Yes make double sure you look at the kennels and the turn out area!!! Also, make sure you find out ahead of time the brand of dog food the kennel is going to feed your fur kids! You will more than likely want to pack enough of your feed for them, with instructions :) instead of letting the kennel just feed your kids their brand of food... an abrupt change in diet isn't good for the fur kids. Causes diarreah and it's not good for the digestive system...
I have gone on vacation a few times. I interviewed dog sitters to come to the house and take care of my numerous critters and because this state is not regulated I was lucky to find very caring people.
They were to come and visit on three or four occasions so Chey and Orion would get used to their presence and their human scent. No one was allowed in the compound. The procedure was to give the food I had prepared through a hole in the fence. They had to unplug the hot wire first and then put the food into plastic troughs I purchased. The wd's still respected the hot wire and it is set about a foot away from the perimeter fence. I have never had a problem because there was no actual human contact.
I am hoping to open a kennel and will include wd's with appropriate secure kennels. I have many people that are very interested. I did tell the sitters what the dogs really were. I think that is only fair. The sitters all end up bringing goodies to them and sometimes come back to visit and ask if I am going away again :-) I try to get an experienced vet tech and have found someone I really trust!
Leave numbers and pagers and all pertinent info on all of my critters. I will never use a kennel again! Orion tore one up when he was a year old because against my request that they not be separated that is exactly what they did.
So far, in four years, since getting my Merlyn, I've been on one vacation and that was my honeymoon. When we are gone, we call up dear old Grandma or Auntie (Auntie just so happens to live with us). So the [fur] kids have a live in baby sitter for a while.
Most boarding kennels won't take wolfdogs and frankly, I don't think that I would trust just any old professional doggie caregiver to take care of my woofises.
It's been a dream of mine to open a wolfdog boarding kennel. With all of the talk of the wds that get dumped on rescues, or just euthanised, I can't help but wonder what a low cost temporary facility would do for all of those that "move" or have relatives staying for the duration. A place to keep your critter for a while that understands them, might keep more of these kids in their happy homes.
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