With the holidays around the corner, I have been frantically trying to find a solution for going away without Murphy - our gorgeous 6 month old Labrador/Ridgeback cross. Who is going to look after him? As he is still really a puppy, I can't bear the thought of him going to a kennel. I know that there are some fantastic boarding kennels for cats and dogs - some of which are more like staying over at a loving friends house - but I am still worried he is too young.
I started to do some online research, after realising that it was a really big ask of family and friends to take him for a week! A weekend - maybe, but 7 whole days and nights may be pushing it! Especially as a pup who is only really just house trained!
To my delight there are dozens of pet sitting and minding services available. I am pretty keen on finding someone trustworthy to come into our home and stay the night - to keep Murphy from whining all night on his own. This also gives you the added benefit of knowing someone is there while you are away (and watering the plants!!) Plus they can walk him morning and night, and leave him comfortable during the day with plenty of food, toys, warmth and shelter. Thus giving me total peace of mind.
Some websites I found on my search:
Mind A Home is a house and pet sitting service - a free website where you can register your details as someone looking for a pet sitter. They also have house swap and straight house sitting - great! You just have to register to their site but there is no cost to place an ad searching for a minder.
Happy Housesitters is another free website where you register as a home owner looking for someone to mind your house and pets.
Find a Dog Minder I quite like the look of this site - although you do have to pay a membership fee. Its easy to follow - you are either a dog minder or a dog owner. You can do a free search for carers in your area - but you can't contact them until you register and pay your fee. You can meet them before you book them, and there is no time limit on the care they can provide - based on what they have available.
I get the feeling these carers are all passionate and as they also pay a fee to be a member, there is an element of commitment to the cause.
The fees are quite reasonable I thought - 3 months is $50, 6 months is $80 and 12 months is $120. As we go away sporadically it would be hard to decide which time frame to commit to - the best value is the annual one however.
The fees for the actual sitters range from $15 per night to $30 per night.
Your Local Community
At the same time as considering online services, I also asked around my local community. The good news was there are locals who can come and mind your house and pets for about the same nightly fee as the online services (Roughly $20-$30 a night) (ask your local vet for anyone they may know of). The bad news is, where I live (near Avalon) it has the highest rate of dog ownership in Australia, so everyone else has the same idea! The trick is getting in early and booking ahead.
My other option for this winters holiday with Murphy is to take him with us. A 12 hour car drive with him and a toddler could be interesting - he will either sleep the whole way or howl! I am not sure I want to find out! Luckily where we are going we can take dogs.
One of Australia's best holiday parks is now giving it's members the option of accepting dogs. Airlie Beach is one of many parks allowing guests to bring their canine family members from July 1st. Hooray!
About the Author: Ilka Brookes lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her husband, three year old Jemima and Labrador-X-Ridgeback, Murphy. Originally a Queenslander, Ilka and her family love to take a driving holiday up north every winter.