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Beating the pet-boarding blues.

Boarding a dog, a cat, or even an ocelot doesn't have to be bad news if you take steps to ensure proper care while you're a way.

Tyrone, an affectionate, long-haired Persian cat, became very nervous when his owner had to be away from home. When she picked him up recently after a week at the local veterinary-hospital kennel, she found him thinner and apprehensive acting. Leaving him in the care of a neighbor during her next absence proved no better. Tyrone developed diarrhea (cats are prone to intestinal upsets from stress), and he was uncomfortable as well as messy when his owner returned.

Tyrone's owner called me. I directed her to Sam Bush, who recently opened a pet-care service called Pampered Pet. Everyone was happy with the arrangement. Sam loved Tyrone, Tyrone loved Sam, and his owner loved knowing that her cat was purr-fectly content in his temporary home away from home.

If you prefer leaving your pet to taking it along, you have several options: leaving the pet with relatives or friends; hiring a neighbor's child to take care of the pet in your own home; engaging a house- or pet-sitting service; or boarding your pet at a kennel.

If you use a pet-sitting service, introduce your pet to the person who will be caring for it. Ask this person for references and check them thoroughly. Be sure to leave information about exercise routines, feeding schedules and amounts, and names and commands your pet responds to. (Medication instructions should be explicit. The neighbor of an elderly pet owner once called me in tears because she had tried in vain to get CoCo, an aged cocker spaniel, to take prescribed heart pills while the owner was in the hospital. The situation was easily resolved when I told the woman that CoCo always took her digitalis hidden in a gumdrop.)

A boarding kennel may be the best answer to your needs, but Robert Leeds, the founder of American Pet Motels, says to be careful when choosing a kennel. There are many good kennels in this country, but half or more, he believes, distort the truth as far as the public is concerned. Leeds started his own pet-motel chain after his pet ocelot died through neglect while boarded in a Detroit kennel. In his recent book, All the Comforts of Home: The Story of the First Pet Motel Leeds lists the "Ten Commandments of Pet Boarding" established by the Society for the Advancement of Pet Boarding care:

1. Thou Shalt Not board your pet in any facility that will not let you see where your pet will be kept.

2. Thou Shalt Not board your pet in any facility that boards sick animals in the same general area boarded pets are kept in.

3 . Thou Shalt Not board your pet in any facility that is not clean and well-kept inside and outside.

4. Thou Shalt Not board your pet in any facility that does not require proof of vaccinations.

5 . Thou Shalt Not board your pet in an facility that employs immature or incompetent employees to clean or care for the animals.

6. Thou Shalt Not board your dog in a cage or pen unless you know it will receive three 20-minute exercise periods daily, regardless of weather.

7. Thou Shalt Not board your pet in a facility that lacks properly designed ventilation to maintain the ambient temperature between 55 and 85 [degrees]F. for all warm-blooded animals.

8. Thou Shalt Not board your pet in a facility that will not contact your own veterinarian in the event of a serious illness or injury.

9. Thou Shalt Not board your pet in a facility that does not feed the animals and clean and disinfect their accommodations as required and never less than once in every 24-hour period.

10. Thou Shalt Not board your pet in a facility that permits the boarding of different owners' pets in the same space.

I would like to add my own list of owner responsibilities when boarding a pet:

* Refrain from boarding a young dog or cat before its vaccinations are completed, for it may be inadequately protected against infectious diseases.

* Keep your pet's vaccinations current.

* Do not board an animal suffering from contagious diseases or such parasites as fleas, ticks, or ear mites.

* Inform the kennel of medications or prescription diets that should be administered to your pet; leave an adequate supply of these necessities.

* Leave the telephone number, including the after-hours number, and the address of your pet's veterinarian.

* Leave telephone numbers where you can be reached in case of an emergency.

* Make sure your pet is wearing an identification tag with your name, address, and telephone number.

* If you are boarding an exotic pet, such as a bird or a reptile, make sure the kennel has adequate facilities to accommodate the pet comfortably and that it understands the pet's requirements.

* Leave a familiar toy or blanket for the pet.

* Let the kennel personnel know when you will return and notify them if your plans change.

* Be cheerful and positive when leaving your pet; you don't want the pet to feel as if it is going to prison, while you are going to the Bahamas.

Of course, one final solution-if you can't bear to leave your pet behind-is to take it along. Many hotels and motels will allow well-behaved pets if notified in advance. Ask your travel agent or consult travel guides for the area of the country you plan to visit.

Make sure your dog or cat is a good traveler, however. It may be better off left at home.

Questions for the Vet

Dear Dr. Whiteley,

I have just read your article in the Jan./Feb. 1988 issue of the SatEvePost. I am reminded of a trick our little dog did several years ago.

My husband and I were no experts at teaching tricks, but because she responded so well to the few we did teach her, we tried this one. It was in the summer of the Dewey-Truman-Wallace presidential race. We would ask how she was going to work for Truman and she'd lie down like a dead dog. "How for Wallace" and she'd heave a sigh and stretch out more. "How for Dewey" and she'd jump up and dance around on her hind legs. Obviously, we were Republicans and, obviously, she didn't "work" hard enough for Dewey. A Democrat friend said we were taking advantage of a dumb animal.

Anyway, we had fun with the trick, and I thought maybe you'd appreciate our experience.

Helen M. Mosbach

Columbus, Ohio

Dear Helen,

Your letter is most timely in an election year. Perhaps we can run our own poll of pets for the various candidates and come up with a prediction of the winner. Of course, Morris, the 9-Lives cat, declared his candidacy this year; his supporters predict he'll win by a whisker. In my book, a dog that knows whom he wants to vote for is no dumb animal.

H. E. W.

Dear Dr. Whiteley,

We have a five-year-old female (spayed) Rhodesian ridgeback that is as close to being a member of the family as a dog can get.

However, we have one problem. If, when we walk her (we live on a country road), she sees a stray dog, she takes off after it no matter how much (or loud) we call. We fear that sometime she'll be injured or someone will pick her up. We could, of course, keep her on a leash all the time, but since the above situation does not occur frequently, we would like to give her more freedom to get the exercise she needs.

Would a shock collar be suitable for correcting this problem? We have heard both pros and cons on this subject and would appreciate your comments.

Bruce P. Stollberg Anderson, South Carolina

Dear Bruce,

Dogs are pack animals, and the prospect of a social encounter with another dog must be too much to resist for your dog. You could leave her at home behind a fenced yard; this maneuver would eliminate her temptation to roam. You could try positive reinforcement. When you call for her to return and she does it, give her a favorite tidbit of food, praise, etc. A shock collar would be a form of negative reinforcement. I prefer one of the retractable leashes that allow the dog about 16 feet or more of free range. It can be reeled in like a fishing line. Practice letting her out on the line. When you give the command "Come" and she does, reward her. When she does not, jerk the leash and reel her in.


Dear Dr. Whiteley,

I was wondering if you could help us out. My husband and I purchased an AKC cocker spaniel in early November. He is now six months old and still goes to the bathroom on my kitchen and other carpets. My husband and I are both schoolteachers and are gone from 7:45 to 4:00. But when we get home we try to pay lots of attention to Sebastian. We also go home for lunch every day to spend a little time with him. We have him paper-trained, at least while we are there. But when we start getting ready for work he goes wherever he wants. Help! How do we solve this problem?

Mrs. Chuck Prior

Elgin, Nebraska

Dear Mr. Prior,

I suggest that you start over teaching Sebastian house manners. You should pick an appropriate spot outside on the grass for Sebastian's potty area. If you don't have lawn space available, you may have to pick an area in the utility room or bathroom as the potty area. Take the dog outside to his potty area (the same area each time) as soon as you awake in the morning; when you return home at noon; as soon as you reach home in the afternoon; and a couple of times in the evening. As soon as the dog eliminates in the proper place, give lots of petting and praise; you want him to know that you are pleased with his good manners. When you find an accident in the house, clean it up without making a fuss-preferably with the dog out of sight. Use something like club soda to take the urine scent out of the area. Don't use ammonia-it smells too much like urine. I don't think that Sebastian should have free run of the house until he has demonstrated better habits. If he always uses the same spot on the kitchen carpet, he thinks that this is his potty area. Don't let him have access to the area until he has established a potty area in the yard.


"Flea Alert "

It's flea time again, and-especially if you five in the South-flea infestation may be a serious problem for you and your pet. The important thing to remember is that fleas do not live only on your pet. Powders and sprays may be temporarily effective in ridding your pet of fleas (flea collars somewhat less so), but the problem is likely to persist until your house and yard are also treated.

You may want to try flea bombs, often effective in ridding a house of fleas. You can obtain special flea-killing insecticides for your yard at garden shops and hardware stores. Vacuum your carpet frequently and put flea powder in the bag to kill any larvae that may hatch there. Destroy your pet's bedding and replace it with clean bedding. Buy a flea comb at a pet store and comb your dog or cat daily. Many animals enjoy this immensely, and it is very effective in removing fleas. Dip the comb in alcohol or insecticide when you are done.

If infestation persists, a call to the exterminator may be necessary. It is worth the cost to relieve your pet of pain and itching.
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Title Annotation:includes related article "Flea Alert"; planning for proper care
Author:Whiteley, H. Ellen
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jul 1, 1988
Previous Article:Wine and winos: the misery market; winos are a major embarrassment to big companies producing cheap wines.
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